A 10-year-old leukemia survivor and Mar Vista resident had the unique opportunity to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Los Angeles Dodgers game Aug. 3 thanks to City Councilman Mike Bonin and a fundraising effort to fight cancer.
Vanessa Ribeiro stepped onto the pitching mound where Dodger stars such as Clayton Kershaw stand after Bonin raised $13,585 for ThinkCure! in June, earning him the honor of throwing the ceremonial first pitch as the event’s top fundraiser. Bonin, who raised the money during a “Yas-a-thon” fundraising event, invited Ribeiro, a “True Blue Dodger fan” to join him on the field at Dodger Stadium before the game.
Ribeiro was diagnosed with leukemia while in kindergarten, but her cancer is in remission following surgery and chemotherapy and after receiving support from her parents Flavio, also a cancer survivor, and Katia, as well as her sister Melissa.
Bonin, who lost his sister and several friends and family members to cancer, is an ardent supporter of ThinkCure!, a community-based non-profit that raises funds to accelerate collaborative research to cure cancer. ThinkCure! was endowed by the Los Angeles Dodgers and provides funding to projects at City of Hope and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
“Two and a half years ago, I lost my beautiful sister Maureen to cancer,” Bonin said. “A wonderful mother of three young children, she was only 41 – full of life, laughter and plenty of dreams for her family. During her illness, I learned about strength, and courage and love. But I also learned firsthand how brutal and unforgiving cancer is – and how desperately far we are from a cure.”
This was Bonin’s second year participating in the Yas-a-thon, an annual three-hour indoor cycling event at YAS Fitness Centers. This year’s event raised more than $300,000 for the charity.