Emma Durham was your average teenage girl with an infectious smile and a heart that knew no bounds. She had a great love for her family and friends and worried about others before herself. She was always concerned about the well-being of those around her, including people in the community she did not even know. She loved to be active in outdoor activities, singing, making funny videos with her friends, and sports, especially basketball. It was basketball that would lead to a discovery that showed just how special Emma was as a person.
In 2010 after struggling with a nagging muscle injury from playing ball, an x-ray revealed something that no one ever expected to see. A dark mass in the x-ray proved to be cancer and began a journey that would show the amazing young woman that was hiding in that young 14 year old girl’s body. She had many surgeries and chemo treatments and went through a very difficult Bone Marrow Transplant. She was in isolation for many months. She was in remission for about six months when the cancer came back and she had to start treatments all over again. For over two years, she battled a cancer that just would not go away.
Through it all that smile never faded and her concern was never about herself but still directed toward others. Even on her worst days she would give you a smile and ask how you were doing, not concerned about herself. She supported all of those around her to get them through her illness when it normally is the other way around. She never fell behind in school, still working from home and the hospital to stay with her class, all the while not realizing that this was another example to others of the special person Emma was. Emma rarely cried or was upset about her illness. She was always smiling, laughing, and goofing around. She would tell her mom “it is what it is and I’ll be ok. God has a plan for me”. Emma inspired many with her bravery and courage and will never be forgotten. Emma went to be with the Lord on June 30, 2012.
The lasting message that Emma’s story will always portray is that you never give up no matter what your obstacle is in life. Be positive, have faith, love all those around you and spread your hope and strength of will to all those with whom you are in contact with; and never lose your smile.
The Emma Durham Foundation, Inc., was formed to carry on Emma’s legacy and to remind us all to SMILE! A few of our foundation activities include:
- Providing a scholarship to one graduating female senior athletes from each our 2 local high schools
- Delivering pre-lit Christmas trees with decorations to pediatric patients on the cancer wing at Kosair Children’s Hospital who will be in the hospital over the Christmas holiday
- Fundraising events throughout the year
Our foundation is committed to carrying on Emma’s name in all that we do!
Don’t forget to smile!