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‘Skate for Cancer’ event helps Utah family with 4-year-old battling cancer

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Posted at 9:50 PM, Mar 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-20 23:50:20-04

PROVO, Utah -- Skaters in Provo hit the ice this weekend to help a little girl in the fight of her life.

Kaleyn Downs has cancer, but she has a whole community of support at her side, and athletes from around the world came together to help the 4-year-old girl this weekend.

"We're here with Kaleyn my daughter, and the fundraiser's about her tonight, so we're excited to be here, loving the environment,” Kevin Downs said.

Kevin Downs said his daughter was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in January.

"It's a fairly common form of leukemia,” he said. “It has a pretty high cure rate, right about 94 to 95 percent cure rate.”

Even with the odds in her favor, Kaleyn's family says times have been tough.

"You never expect or want a child to go through cancer, so it can get kind of lonely at times because people try and support you and they do the best that they can, but it's hard when you don't know exactly what someone's going through," Brittany Downs, Kaleyn’s mother, said.

Battling cancer is bringing a flood of expenses for the young family, which is already working hard to keep up.

"I'm still in college, I work full-time, go to school full-time, and I’m tackling two internships on top of that," Kevin Downs said. "…It's definitely kind of a rude awakening for finances when you find out your daughter has cancer.”

That’s where Skate for Cancer and two-time U.S. Figure Skating gold-medalist Brianna Hatch comes in.

“The most amazing experiences for me was when I got to serve others through my talents and my time, so that's why I started this, because I wanted to give that experience back to my skaters as well," Hatch said.

Hatch, who is currently a skating coach at BYU, said she started Skate for Cancer four years ago to help children in need. But, she said this event is unique.

“This year is different than other years because we are representing a family, and that family will be directly affected by what we raise tonight,” Hatch said. "…All that money goes back to Kaleyn and her treatments.”

Hatch said she hopes to teach her students that helping others is a gift that lasts a lifetime.

“It's so wonderful to win a medal, but it's even more magical when you can affect others by your talents and gifts,” she said.

It’s a message Kaleyn’s family is truly grateful to receive

“It's amazing to have all these people behind us, and see the community coming out for support of our daughter,” Brittany Downs said. "...It makes us feel loved and supported, and it just means the world to us.”

The group Millie’s Princess Foundation also matched each dollar donated at the performance in order to help the Downs family.