Jason Tomlinson, Stephany Koci

Stephany Koci, mother of the late Aimee Snapp, displays her daughter’s photo along with her brother-in-law Jason Tomlinson, left. The two are leading the second annual Aimee’s Birthday Bash, set for Saturday, Sept. 21.

When a young child is going through the trial of their life, finances would hopefully be last concern on the minds of their loved ones, but Stephany Koci knows more than most that this is often not the case.

The mother of 8-year-old Aimee Snapp, who died on May 7, 2017, of Ewing sarcoma, a form of pediatric bone cancer, said that while insurance covers most medical costs, and a variety of aid organizations are available to families with other expenses, stories of families nonetheless struggling to cover basic costs such as rent, utilities and food are hardly unheard of.

“Pediatric cancer is such a common challenge,” Koci said. “They said it is rare; it is not. I never thought I would be a cancer mom. I never thought it would change my life in the way that it did. But it did, it completely changed everything in the matter of a moment. And there are stories like mine everywhere.”

Some people must see to their child’s needs 24/7, and thus can’t hold down a normal job. Others simply find that the towering costs of caring for a chronically sick child, costs no one can fully prepare for before they are realized, present a challenge that readily gets out of hand.

For this reason, Koci, with support from her family, including brother-in-law Jason Tomlinson, want to do whatever they can to intervene.

“The outpouring of support from this community has been incredible to see,” Tomlinson said. “We’ve had people write checks for the cause even if you know business hasn’t been great. People are determined to help.”

It is after all the kind of determination to lead and do one’s best for one’s community that Aimee epitomized during her life. They will hold the second annual Aimee’s Birthday Bash from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, along the Atchison Riverfront, with events focused around the River Road playground area.

Fun, games, food, music and much more will help raise funds for families grappling with pediatric cancer, chiefly by contributing to a fund that supports the purchase of direct aid assets, such as grocery store gift cards. In so doing, Koci said she is upholding Aimee’s legacy.

“She was an old, old soul,” Koci said. “Throughout her cancer treatment, I never once saw her without a smile. Every day, I was the miserable one, and she would be happy, no matter what she went through. She showed me how to be strong, how to be brave, how to conquer all of the world’s challenges. And she showed me how to give back.”

Tomlinson remembers how Aimee was so determined to show her love for those around her, that she served as a flower girl at his wedding to Margaret, Stephany’s sister, on April 29, 2017. Aimee, with only a week to live, walked down the aisle with as broad of a smile as ever, sharing her love with everyone. It is that vision that most inspires Aimee’s Birthday Bash.

“She held on for the weeding,” Koci said. “Exactly one week and one day later, she went home. She wasn’t going to go until the Lord told her she was ready, until she had a chance to celebrate with us.”

For more information on the upcoming Aimee’s Birthday Bash, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/452273248891241/

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