Community Plans Fundraiser for Coral Springs Teen Battling Brain Cancer

Emma Sorensen {courtesy family}

By: Jen Russon

Not long after her 12th birthday, Emma Sorensen appeared to be in perfect health; however, a stroke-like incident and ambulance ride in 2018 proved otherwise.

Now 13 and in eighth grade at Coral Springs Middle School, Emma has since been diagnosed with a high-grade malignant Glioma brain tumor.

Her parents Kelley and Michael, have been the teen’s biggest advocates during the drawn-out cancer battle, which took nine months of hospital visits to diagnose. The couple lives in Westview village with Emma and her older brother Michael, a student at Douglas High School.

Kelley said friends in Emma’s middle school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Eagle Ridge Elementary school have been incredible throughout her daughter’s ordeal. 

She added over 400 donors had raised close to $36,000 on a GoFundMe page set up for the teen.

Shuttled from one hospital to the next for either second opinions, surgeries or treatment over the last year and a half have taken a toll on the Sorensen family, both emotionally and financially.

Told she has brain cancer in May, Emma’s is the most common type of malignant brain tumor among adults, and usually very aggressive – with a 95 percent fatality rate. Glioblastomas are rarer in children, who average a five-year survival rate of less than 20 percent.

While her prognosis is grim, Emma attends school when she feels up to it and is still active in Cheer, Florida, located in Coconut Creek. The hashtag #EmmaStrong is trending, with the Sorensens inspiring hundreds of people to attend a sponsored walk for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in September.

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza in Coral Springs stepped up to help, as well as Sicilian Oven, Ashley Sica Fitness, and Parkland Golf and Country Club. On the tails of their generosity, a poker tournament is on the calendar.

Organized by the Sorensen’s friends, Jeff and Wendy Marr, Rana and Charlie Hall, Arlene and David Fellerman, Allison and Mike Sands, and Kyha Cummings, the poker tournament is a prime example of the kind of support the embattled family is receiving.

Cummings said together they helped organize a poker tournament with professional dealers at the luxurious Boca Raton Resort & Club.

“The Sorensens are an awesome family that has been involved in many organizations, PTA, and sports programs here in Coral Springs, so the response from the community has been awesome through other fundraisers and support efforts,” said Cummings.

The family needs all the help they can get. Kelley had to retire from her job, following the diagnosis, and success at beating the disease hinges on seven weeks of chemoradiation five days a week, followed by ten months of oral chemotherapy.

Emma, a consummate cheerleader, remains brave and upbeat in the face of her terminal disease, traveling to Shands Hospital, where she is doing an individual trial that includes immunotherapy and chemo based treatments. 

“This is not a cure, but a hope to slow down the disease progression while we look for our miracle,” said Kelley.

Proceeds collected at the poker tournament will be donated entirely to Emma’s medical treatment.

The tournament will be held at the Boca Resort Saturday, October 26, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.  Advance priced tickets can be paid for through Venmo at EmmaPoker with a $100 “buy-in” for players with food and drinks included. Guests may also enjoy the event as a spectator for $50.  For additional details, questions, or donations, email emmastrong2019@gmail.com.

Boca Raton Resort and Club is located at 501 East Camino Real.    

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