Circle of Care will be honoring 5-year-old Victoria Padilla at the 5th annual Circle of Care 5K next weekend. Victoria has battled cancer twice, enduring chemo, radiation and surgery, but mom Emily says you’d never know it today. “She’s so happy all the time. She’s so strong.”

Even after just completing her last round of chemo mere weeks ago, Victoria is rebounding and getting excited for the Wilton 5K race. Victoria will be honored and celebrated at the town’s 5K on Sunday, May 5, in Wilton Town Center, beginning at 8:30 a.m..

The Padilla family of Shelton has been through a long cancer journey. Victoria was diagnosed just one month after her first birthday with Rhabdomyosarcoma. The tumor was discovered to be inoperable in her leg, and she went through 10 months of chemo followed by six weeks of radiation before being declared in remission. She enjoyed two-and-a-half years cancer free before a scan revealed that the cancer had returned. This time, it was operable, but that meant that four-year-old Victoria would have to endure a very difficult surgery and long recovery as well as another 10 months of chemo.

“I don’t know which was scarier, hearing it the first time or hearing it the second time,” says mom Emily about being told her daughter had cancer. Today, Victoria’s scans are clean, and her family is hopeful that the second surgery and chemo marked the end of their cancer story. “I pray her story brings hope for others,” says Emily.

Circle of Care’s mission is to support families like the Padillas, and Emily says the help that they have received from Circle of Care has meant so much to her and her family. “They’ve been here for us since the beginning,” says Emily. “They’ve helped us financially, emotionally…with groceries, gas, inviting us to events, having our portraits taken, and even giving Victoria a room makeover. They turned her bedroom into a rainbow wonderland. It was the best experience!”

Circle of Care’s co-founder Liz Salguero asked Emily if they could honor Victoria at the 2019 5K, which raises necessary funds for the organization. “I was honored. I love the thought of everyone coming together to celebrate Victoria.” And Victoria is excited for the attention. “She loves the paparazzi!”

Hundreds of participants, spectators and volunteers are expected at this community-wide event to celebrate Victoria and her family, with corporations, families and professional runners from all over Fairfield County supporting Circle of Care’s thoughtful programs benefiting children in treatment for cancer.

Participants can support the organization by creating a team, running or walking as an individual, volunteering at the event or becoming a sponsor. Donations can be made online. The race is timed and USATF Certified. Race T-shirts will be available on a first-come, first served basis, and modest cash prizes will be provided. Pediatric cancer patients run for free, and all survivors are welcome to take part in a small honorary ceremony before the race.

For 16 years, Circle of Care has provided practical, emotional and financial assistance to families, from day of diagnosis through treatment and beyond, with programs and services that meet the unique and challenging needs of pediatric cancer treatment. For information about Circle of Care and the annual 5K, visit the Circle of Care website.