Eleven-year-old cancer survivor Madison "Maddy" Marzano of Hesperia will throw out the first pitch when the Mavericks play an exhibition game against Victor Valley College on Tuesday evening.
Marzano's appearance kicks off an event-filled week that will culminate on Saturday with the annual Hesperia Relay for Life at Hesperia Civic Park. She will host a carnival-style celebration at 2 p.m., which will feature musicians from Sultana High School, a bounce house, cake and other attractions.
"She would love to have the community come out and celebrate," said her mother, Julie Marzano.
This year's relay is part of "Cars, Cures & 'Cue," which is co-sponsored by the Hesperia Recreation and Park District. Events begin at 10 a.m. The 24-hour relay concludes at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
Marzano, who has survived cancer first diagnosed when she was an infant, set a goal of raising $10,000 for cancer research. The past several months, the girl, her family and friends have knit colorful hats, and she is requesting that people create handmade cards along with a donation of $1 or more.
"She worked really, really hard to raise that $10,000," her mother said. "She's up to $4,000 now. She's been trekking away. Every day she's been plugging along. She's worked so hard along with her sisters."
Kohl's "A Team" and Apple Valley Feed Barn also have been major sponsors for Marzano's fundraising drive. And later this week teachers from Kingston Elementary School will present donations to the girl.
"They're having the fundraiser over there now. Teachers are surprising her with their donation amount."
While the underlying message is a serious one, the Marzanos believe the girl's upbeat fundraising carnival will be a fitting event to bring the community together for a single cause.
"We really want it out in the community that everybody's welcome. We really want to share with the community the hopeful side [of cancer]."