Grace-ful community: Fundraiser held for 12-year-old battling cancer discovered by X-ray

Published on Sunday, 10 September 2017 22:55
Written by Erica Schmitt

Staff Writer

PLYMOUTH - “Don’t cry mom,” 12-year-old Grace Vigue told her mother Kim outside the Terryville Polish Club Sunday.

Kim Vigue smiled through her tears, amazed by the strength of her daughter, who is battling Ewing’s Sarcoma Cancer. Over 200 people came to support the Vigues at a fundraiser organized by friends of the Plainville family. After being diagnosed with the rare illness on June 16 and beginning chemotherapy four days later, Grace did not start seventh grade at the Middle School of Plainville with her classmates this year.

Instead, she’s been in and out of the Connecticut Children’s Hospital, undergoing aggressive treatment and surgeries to rid a tumor from the soft tissue of her chest wall. It has shrunk 75 percent so far. A tutor works with her in between hospital visits.

“She’s having what we hope will be her last surgery at the end of this week and then she’s got four more months of chemotherapy and radiation,” Kim said. “She’s taking it with so much maturity. She’s such a trooper. She’s my hero.”

Since the diagnosis, mother and daughter have spent only nine nights at home. Relatives have been caring for Grace’s 13-year-old brother Zack. Kim left her job at 99 Restaurant in Bristol, where she’s been over 10 years, to care for Grace. The restaurant donated food for the fundraiser and employees took part.

For General Manager Matt Keal, it was essential to help.

“Kim’s one of my servers and we’re family at my restaurant,” he said. “We take care of each other.”

Her best friends Dawn Cercone and Ronnie LaFountain ran the event, collecting admission and selling raffle tickets. Cercone spent the last few weeks garnering raffle prizes from area businesses and organizations.

“The Bristol community has been amazing,” she said.

Mention of the support they’ve received brought tears to Kim.

“It’s just been so wonderful,” she said. “So many people have given so much to help us. I feel blessed.”

Although Grace has health insurance, the cost of prescriptions is high and hospital bills are piling up. Kim is a single mom, having lost her husband to a heart attack in 2012.

Mother and daughter both believe Grace’s dad had a spiritual hand in her diagnosis. If it wasn’t for a fall back in May, she would have never had the X-ray revealing the tumor beneath her rib cage.

“She tripped over a hurdle in gym class and fell, which made me take her to the hospital for an X-ray,” Kim said. “I swear it was her father who made sure she fell on that exact spot.”

Her doctors cleared Grace to attend Sunday’s event. In between hugs from friends and strangers she talked about looking forward to an expected return to school in January.

“I thought it would be cool to be homeschooled, but I’m getting kind of bored at home now,” Grace said.

The illness has brought the family closer together, according to Kim.

“It puts your life into perspective,” she pointed out. “You realize what’s important.”

Bristol mayoral candidate Ellen Zoppo-Sassu met Grace for the first time Sunday. Grace’s grandparents are active in the Bristol Historical Society, where Zoppo-Sassu is development director. That’s how she heard about the illness and the opportunity to help.

“We felt it was important to participate today,” said Zoppo-Sassu. “The good thing about Bristol is that everybody rallies around a special cause.”

Donations to help the Vigue family can be made at www.gofundme.com/amazing-grace-cancer-donation .

Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or eschmitt@centralctcommunications.com.



Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol, General News on Sunday, 10 September 2017 22:55. Updated: Sunday, 10 September 2017 22:58.