by Tina Seymour Demoran, Esq. 

Last Saturday, my great-niece, Gracie Mae Seymour, passed away.

I’m numb. While I dealt with death for over 25 years, first as a Respiratory Therapist and then as a member of hospital management, something so close, so personal, leaves me feeling helpless.

Gracie Mae was not only a very close member of my family, she was also the inspiration for our first fundraiser…and for the last few years, she was a strong supporter and volunteer for them.

This week, I thought I’d give you the origins of the fundraiser, to honor our Gracie Mae.

Gracie Mae was eight years old when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

A few months later, the family was pulling our resources together, as her treatment required her mother to take time a significant amount of time off from her job. Travel expenses and medical expenses were building, and everyone in the family was reaching deep in their pockets to help out.

I had just moved my law firm from a one-room office to a larger suite. Funds were limited.

I told my nephew, “I can give you $300, or I can take that $300 and put it into a fundraiser and see if we can raise more.”

Thus began the First Annual Seymour Law Firm Fish Fry To End Childhood Cancer fundraiser.

We took that $300 and turn it into $3,600 in 2017.

Several years later, we are now pushing the $20,000 mark for individual children with cancer and also local groups who support children who are diagnosed with cancer.

We have donated our hair, our money, our time, and several hundred pounds of fish to the effort.

Yup. At least 20 of us donated our own hair for wigs for childhood cancer victims in 2018.

2020 put a halt to our fundraising efforts.

But not forever.

A fundraiser that started with $300 and raised money to help a family with medical and transport bills… has now grown into a fundraiser that has helped so many other children on the Gulf Coast.

Last Saturday, we received the heartbreaking news that our Gracie Mae passed away.

However, our little warrior never lost this fight.

Gracie Mae and I talked about this a few years ago.

I am a cancer survivor. She is a cancer survivor.

You see, so many people talk about how a person who dies has lost his or her battle to cancer.

Gracie Mae and I disagree.

Cancer warriors are just that…strong, determined, fearless.

Our little warrior, Gracie Mae, was all of these, and so much more.

She won this battle.

Cancer did not win.

Gracie faced her battle from the beginning with grace, style, and a faith that was so very deep.

She faced treatments that grown adults could not endure, with a smile on her face and her famous “peace sign.”

She encouraged her own family members when we were despondent and trying to figure out why this baby, this child who has not even had a chance to experience all of the many wonderful things we as adults have had the chance to experience, faced such a battle.

Throughout it all, this baby’s faith never wavered.

Yes, last Saturday, Gracie ended her time on this earth.

Way too soon.

However, I have faith that I will see her again. I believe in a faith that starts small like the mustard seed and grows into a tree with roots that endure for ages.

My friends, no matter what you believe in, know this.

There is a Higher Power out there.

A Higher Power that is enveloped in Love.

Last Saturday, our Gracie Mae went to her forever home, a home where she is free from pain, fully healed, and standing next to our Lord.

We will meet again, little one.

Until then, may we all strive to obtain just a fraction of your strength, courage, and passion for life.

Love you forever, your “Aunt Batina”.