Makayla’s fight to live

A young girl’s fight against Leukemia brings together a community

Lying in a hospital bed in a thin gown, surrounded by plain white walls, is not a little girl’s typical Friday night.

Forced to face-time friends and family, too weak to move, unable to even leave the building without a face mask to protect her immune system, was one little girl’s reality.

For some, this situation would be devastating, but fourth grader Makayla Claflin has stayed strong since her August 18 diagnosis with ALL Leukemia: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

Since then, Claflin has endured chemotherapy, blood transfusions and numerous testing at the University Hospital Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland.

Her battle is not over yet, with many more months of weekly treatment to go.

Claflin has achieved remission, meaning the doctors have the cancer stabilized for now, but she still needs to undergo aggressive chemo and bone marrow biopsies to ensure she remains healthy.

“It’s been hard on everyone
, but we’re pulling through it all the best that we can,” said Makayla’s mom, Stacy Claflin. “Mak is in good spirits. She loves her teachers, Ms. Rimmel and Mrs. Ondash, who keep her smiling and really help distract her from everything she is going through. They both tutor her while she is seeking treatment.”

Claflin has not only had the support of her family and teachers, but of her entire community. Residents rallied together this fall to raise over $6,000 for Claflin, and showed their support  by wearing orange in an effort to support “one of their own”.

Makayla Claflin with her little sister Savanna and her parents Stacy and Rod Claflin. Photo Courtesy of the Claflins.
From left to right: Stacy Claflin, Makayla Claflin, Savanna Claflin, and Rod Claflin. Photo Courtesy of the Claflins.

“We just really want to thank the entire community for all the support,” said Rod Claflin, Makayla’s father. “The thoughts, the prayers, the fundraising support, and help from our family — it’s really special, and we’re really touched by all of that. We’re definitely proud to call Streetsboro our home.”

Senior Rocket Rowdies leader Jake Wagner brought Claflin’s illness to the community’s attention at the first school meeting. Wagner had lea
rned of the little girl’s condition through Facebook, and decided to do more than “like” a post to show his support. Due to his simple actions, Wagner and junior Haley Shaw, led the school in raising money for the Claflin’s through T-shirt sales and cash donations.  

“She’s so sweet and just cherishes life, I love it,” Wagner said. “Just being around her makes you happy… I know that the cancer is officially dead [and] she’s in remission; she definitely has a long way to go.”

Support for Claflin has not been limited to Streetsboro; Woodridge even joined
in to help support her by wearing orange to the Varsity football game played here in Streetsboro.

The SHS band also played for Claflin, and the cheerleaders went out of their way to visit the little girl at her home, on their way to a Varsity game in Cloverleaf. Claflin had been unable to go to a game in person due to her weakened immune system, so they came to her.

Makayla Claflin in the hospital. Courtesy of the Claflins.
Makayla Claflin in the hospital. Photo Courtesy of the Claflins.

“I’ve nev
er seen someone step up like that to really do something, because nowadays, I feel like everyone is so concerned with themselves,” said sophomore Fidelina Rivera. “It was really selfless to take the time to dedicate something to someone else for a cha

Rivera is a part of the girls’ Varsity soccer team, who also went out of their way to support Claflin, sending her a
video filled with encouragement and a ball signed by all of the players.

“She was strong through all of her treatments,” Stacy Claflin said. “She understands what she’s going through…the whole process with the community has been very touching… I never imagined being in this position, but the amount of people that reached out to us, to show their support for someone they barely knew. I can’t express enough our sincere thanks and gratitude for all of the support.”

Her daughter was welcomed home from a month long hospital stay by her parents and little sister with balloons, posters, and a big stuffed teddy bear provided by Wagner and his friends.

“That was really nice of the them and it was
cool,” Makayla said. “I face-timed my dad [during the football game] and I got to see some of it, and I saw a bunch of pictures and stuff and it was nice…They just said ‘stay tough and be strong we’ll get through this step by step.’”

To support the Claflins and learn more about Makayla, visit: