9-year-old turns birthday gifts into donations for American Cancer Society

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Most 9-year-olds wait anxiously for their birthdays so they can indulge in cake, ice cream and presents. But, one Longmont girl turned her birthday into a gift for others

“I turned 9, and my birthday was at Sunset Pool,” said Riley Holcomb

Riley’s party invitation had some very specific instructions.

“No gifts, I just want money to donate to the American Cancer Society,” she said

What prompts a 9-year-old to be so giving?

“I lost two family members to cancer in 2011,” she said. “One was my aunt Tina, she was very special to many of us and many of us would say, ‘Team Tina.’ And I also lost Kathy. She died on Valentine’s Day,” she said.

“She took it really, really hard,” said Riley’s mother, Tammi Holcomb. “She asked a lot of questions and we tried to answer them as best as we could. But with cancer, there’s just not a good explanation.”

In all, Riley collected $260 for the American Cancer Society.

“To see a 9-year-old make donations and support an organization like that and turn such a sad thing and a tough thing for a family into such a positive…we could use a couple more Rileys in the world,” said Shane Ferraro of the American Cancer Society.

Riley isn’t done yet. She also participated in this year’s Relay for Life.

“I don’t want more people to die from cancer because I’ve already lost two people and I don’t think other people should die from that,” she said.

Riley said her goal next year is to raise $1,000 for cancer research.