Li'l Wranglers Roundup honors kids fighting cancer

Li'l Wranglers Roundup honors kids fighting cancer

Dozens of kids who have been diagnosed with cancer got to enjoy a special night free from hospitals and doctor's visits at the 18th annual Li'l Wranglers Roundup in Tyler.

This year's 'Li'l Wrangler,' Jubilee Wheatman, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when she was just one year old.

Neuroblastoma is a cancerous tumor that develops from nerve tissue -- typically in infants and young kids.

"It completely just changes your life," Jubilee's mother, Kaprena Wheatman, said. "It will shatter it into a million pieces and you're left to try to put those pieces back into a normal life again."

After surgery to remove the tumor, chemotherapy, radiation, and several bone marrow transplants, Jubilee went into remission, and for the last few years has been completely cancer free.

"She's been very spunky and just happy, and she knows what she wants," Kaprena Wheatman said. "She's a different child than the baby that we had."

The event gives children like Jubilee -- who have either beat the disease or are still fighting it -- a chance to enjoy a day away from hospitals and cancer treatments.

"Seeing these families and out here and seeing these children, they are just so full of life and smiling," Li'L Wranglers Co-Chair Chalease Denson said. "You would just never know what they deal with outside of this, and it's just so wonderful to be able to provide this experience for them."

"I think things like this event, it helps families to cope and to have just a time to laugh and have fun," Kaprena Wheatman said.

Denson has seen several of her own family members battle cancer.

"Cancer just touches so many of our lives, so that is why I come back year after year and continue to help raise funds to help hopefully one day find a cure for this dreaded disease," she said.

This is Jubilee's fourth year at the event, but her first time being named a 'Li'l Wrangler' -- an honor given to only one or two special kids each year.

Part of the title meant getting to pick out some sparkly new duds.

"She loves to go shopping, so the experience of being the Li'l Wrangler and going shopping and having her picture taken -- she enjoys all of that," Kaprena Wheatman said.

But if you ask Jubilee, she'll tell you her favorite part of it all was just being a normal 7-year-old.

"Jumping on the bounce house," she said.

And making some new furry friends.

"The dogs and the puppies," she said. "They're cute."

Tonight's event is all leading up to tomorrow's Cattle Baron's Gala. It kicks off at 7 p.m. at Rio Neches Ranch in Tyler.

Tickets are still available at the American Cancer Society.


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