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Climbing for Kailah

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Posted: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 8:00 am

Kailah Franco is just 7 years old, and she is undergoing her fifth round of chemotherapy treatment.

The local second-grade student will miss all of this school year as she battles a form of leukemia. Franco, a student at Kyrene de las Lomas, was diagnosed last July, shocking the staff at the Ahwatukee Foothills school.

Her first-grade teacher from last year said that although the young girl is going through a difficult time, one thing that hasn't changed is her personality.

"People are just drawn to her," Ann Trent said. "When I visited her in the hospital, she was the same resilient little girl with the effervescent laugh that was in my class last year."

Trent is asking residents to take part in "Climb to Conquer Cancer" on Saturday, Feb. 26 in Franco's name. The event will take place at South Mountain Park and will benefit the American Cancer Society. Team Kailah has already raised more than $1,000.

Lomas Vice Principal Michael Lamp said she was a normal, happy and healthy girl until signs started to appear that something was wrong.

"She was bruising and then other triggers started to come up," he said. "But she's just full of life. Your heart really goes out to her."

Lomas is in the process of setting up a video chat connection between Franco and her old teacher. Trent will give her former student lessons over the program Skype, which will start in the coming weeks.

It is apparent that Franco has taken to heart the lessons she learned last year. In her class, Trent would ask her students daily, "have you filled a bucket today?" meaning have you done something positive for someone else. She said that during a visit to Phoenix Children's Hospital, Franco told her about another girl in the hospital.

"Kailah really wanted to visit this girl and when I asked why, she said, ‘I wanted to fill her bucket,'" she said. "I just think about how much she has taught people around her. It's kind of humbled me with her positive outlook."

The "Climb to Conquer Cancer" begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26. Registration is $40 up until Feb. 24 and $50 afterward, including the day of the event. To donate online, go to, call 602-952-7553 or e-mail

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