WICHITA — A teenager battling cancer with Great Bend connections enjoyed a “Sweet 16,” birthday, thanks to the kindness of a stranger.
Park City’s Holley Zecha, the niece of Great Bend cosmetologist Kim Oberle of Head Quarters, celebrated her belated 16th birthday with the help of a mother who lost her own daughter to ovarian cancer.
Holley spent her planned 16th birthday celebration July 14 in the hospital due to treatment for stage 4 Nodular Scierosis, Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma.
But Holley enjoyed a formal wear Sweet 16 dance party Sunday, when she was welcomed by friends, family and new-found friends at 1560 Topeka.
Wichita’s Kristen Crowe-Merritt, founder of Bekah and Friends Foundation, started planning Zecha’s 16th birthday celebration when she heard her story about a missed 16th birthday party. Merritt’s daughter died she was 14 from ovarian cancer.
“This girl needs a party, and here we are,” Merritt told KAKE News. “We threw it together in nine days. When you’re in the hospital the majority of the time that you’re sick, it takes you down mentally. This is going to help build her up a bit.”
The afternoon featured dancing at Wichita’s VFW 112 Post, constant hugs, and a surprise visit from the Pink Heals fire truck, where Holley met cancer survivors and signed her name alongside other fighters.
The Wichita chapter of Pink Heals features firefighters and volunteers who donate their time traveling in a pink fire truck. The group shows support for women fighting cancer.
Holley’s mother, Kandis Zecha, appreciated the surprise party.
“Honestly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you all so much to everyone who was involved in the nine-day prep of my beautiful daughter’s 16th birthday party,” she said. “It was awesome and she hasn’t smiled that much since the cancer diagnosis. You are truly life-savers.”
The next day, Holley and her mother were greeted by more well-wishers at Wesley Medical Center.
“So, today we walk into Wesley to get chemo and the ladies instantly say ‘Holley Zecha you’re a movie star you looked so beautiful,’ ” said Kandis Zecha. “Yesterday, we saw you on the news.”
The Bikers of Central Kansas from Great Bend will sponsor a benefit Poker Run motorcycle ride for Saturday, Sept. 16 in Holley Zecha’s behalf.
The 11 a.m. run starts at 619 Main, Great Bend, and travels to Odin, Dorrance, Hoisington and returns to the Great Bend VFW, 504 Washington. For information, call Rae Ann Brack, 620-792-3934; Dawn Hoskins, 620-282-4656; or Anneda Drewel, 620-639-1149.