Christmas comes early for local families fighting cancer

Local nonprofit helps out 5 families for Christmas
Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 9:42 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - If holiday wishes do come true, Cruz Capdeville has a big request.

“What I really want for Christmas is that I want everything to be fine,” said Cruz.

A kiss on the cheek from his mom changed the 7-year-old’s life forever. That kiss was how his mom noticed a swollen lymph node in his neck. Doctors diagnosed him with leukemia shortly after. More than a year later, he’s still undergoing treatment and the disease is in remission.

Cruz’s story was just one shared among a group of families who are all dealing with cancer this holiday season. The five families were all brought together by Kelli’s Kloset, a non-profit that supports cancer patients in a variety of ways.

Kelli’s Kloset started out as a humble idea sparked by Kelli Richmond, a young Baton Rouge woman diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer.

While undergoing treatment, Kelli experienced a lot of changes in her weight, which is common for cancer patients. During one chemotherapy treatment, Kelli told her parents she noticed a woman who had to use pins to make her clothes fit. That inspired Kelli to dream up a store where cancer patients could shop for clothes for free.

Although Kelli lost her fight with cancer in 2012, her parents carried on that dream. In 2014, they opened the original Kelli’s Kloset. Over nearly a decade, their mission has grown and expanded to include a mobile closet and monthly birthday grants for cancer patients.

This Christmas, Kelli’s father, Ron Richmond, wanted to do a little more. A few weeks ago, he came up with an idea. He brought together five local families fighting cancer and gave them each a $500 Christmas grant to use however they want.

“These families, they go through a lot. I, unfortunately, know that,” said Richmond.

Not only did the families receive the grants, which were funded by the Peyton Murphy Law Firm, but they had a chance to share their unique challenges with each other. Each cancer survivor took turns sharing stories of diagnoses, surgeries, treatments, relapses, and hope for the future. Cruz was one of the youngest patients.

While Richmond might not have the power to make everything fine like Cruz wishes, he hopes the grants help make Christmas a little brighter for all the families.

“Maybe take their mind off the cancer for a little while,” said Richmond.

It may already be working. Cruz said he’s also hoping his mom will put the grant towards a new drum kit.

More information about Kelli’s Kloset, their clothing mission, and birthday grants can be found here.

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