HED: Lee County girl to ride in Tournament of Roses

CATEGORY: Lee County

AUTHOR: EILEEN

HED: Lee County girl to ride in Tournament of Roses

By Eileen Bailey

Daily Journal

This December, Audrey Burleson has been preparing for a much rosier than normal new year.

Audrey, 6, of Lee County will be one of two children on a float for St. Jude Children’s Research Center in the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day.

“I have been practicing my wave,” Audrey said recently in a phone interview. “I have never been in a parade before. I’ll wave like I normally do.”

Audrey, who will leave Tuesday, was chosen because of the work she has done on behalf of St. Jude, where she received medical care in 1995 and 1996 during a battle with Wilms’ Tumor, which is a cancerous tumor found in the kidneys. She is now in remission and has checkups every four months.

Audrey had to undergo the removal of her right kidney and part of her left. She also had months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

The disease Audrey suffered had a 10 percent survival rate 10 years ago. Today, the survival rate is 90 percent.

A lot of research has been done at St. Jude in recent years to help children with this disease, said Kim Burleson, Audrey’s mother.

Burleson said her daughter and another girl, Crystal Turner, who was at St. Jude the same time as Audrey, were chosen by the Target Company to ride on the float.

Burleson said Audrey, even though she’s a kindergarten student at Saltillo Elementary, understands the disease she faced and has decided to talk to others about St. Jude and the work they do, especially what they do for children with cancer.

Target is sponsoring the float and has provided transportation and lodging for Audrey and her parents while she is in California.

Audrey and her family will help decorate and ride on the float. They also will attend the Rose Bowl to see Michigan take on Washington State.