Fighting Leukemia with a Brave Heart and Beautiful Smile

. March 24, 2014.
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Like most teenage girls, Destiny Rivera has her interests. She loves show choir at school, feasting on Taco Bell food and creating anything from fancy bracelets to actual objects like a chicken and egg on her Rainbow Loom. But unlike most other girls, Destiny is fighting leukemia.
“It’s not really that bad,” Destiny said she would tell another person similarly diagnosed. “You can’t blame yourself for getting it, and it’s ok to be sad sometimes. You’ll get through it.”

Destiny, an eighth grader, and her parents, Larry and Melissa Rivera, found out she had the disease in November. It has been a difficult road, but Larry Rivera said they have learned to be positive and take each day as it comes, never looking too far ahead. It doesn’t hurt that the Riveras, of Findlay, have received touching support from both the greater community and the staff and students of Glenwood Middle School.

Students have worn orange, the support color for leukemia, to school in honor of Destiny. They have been fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and teachers with the highest amount of money in their collection jars have agreed to dye their hair orange or shave their head or beard. They also changed their Valentine’s Day dance to a benefit, sent Destiny gift cards, and are fundraising at basketball games.

Donations have also come in from the community and friends from the family’s church, Trinity Baptist, where Destiny is a member of the youth group.
“It is just really nice, the support you get,” an emotional Larry Rivera said. “You see all of the kindness out there; people are so willing to help out.”
Destiny, 13, has missed school since November, receiving chemotherapy at Toledo Children’s Hospital and recovering. She Skypes with teacher Marc Tuttle several hours a week to keep up with schoolwork. She is a cadet in Girl Scouts, math is her favorite subject and, though she’s not sure, thinks photography might make an exciting career.

In late January, the family headed to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, where Destiny will eventually undergo a bone marrow transplant.
Fun-loving Destiny has never faltered. She may be away from school, but has made  friends with hospital staff. She goes with the flow, all the while putting smiles on others’ faces and never missing a stroke of the Rainbow Loom.
“She has never changed since day one,” Larry Rivera said. “She is one of kind and just makes you laugh. She can make that face at you and you’ll do whatever she wants. She’s a special, special kid.”

Those interested can also create an online card by going to nationwidechildrens.org and clicking on the link to “Send a Greeting Card.” Destiny can also be found on Twitter at #TeamDestiny.