JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Nine-year-old Kate Amato had already found her passion.
"She loved music. She sang all the time," her mother, Lisa Amato, said. "She was just bright and cheerful and fun and spunky."
Kate was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, in July 2014.
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Her little body endured 2 1/2 years of treatment, including weekly chemotherapy and months of radiation therapy but her smile never faded, her mother said.
"Despite all the pain and suffering, she still found ways to be joyful," Lisa Amato said. "She was always able to find the light and be the light, so her spirit was quite infectious."
When Kate died in November 2016, her parents made it their mission to help fund pediatric cancer research.
Experts say only 4% of federal government cancer research funding goes toward pediatric cancer.
"My husband and I knew that the sole mission of Kate's foundation would be to promote innovative research to find safer, smarter treatments. Children cannot endure the same toxicity as adults do. It leads to a lifetime of chronic health problems, "Lisa Amato said.
Since starting the Kate Amato Foundation in 2017, Kate's family has raised $250,000.
The foundation has partnered with a dozen local businesses this month to raise funds and awareness.
On Sunday, they're it is inviting families to a sunrise yoga session on the beach.
"To do something to help future children, improve survival outcomes, reduce toxicity," Lisa Amato said.
"To spare families the pain and suffering of watching their children suffer."
She said Kate's family also hopes that others will be inspired by Kate's story and her strength.
"I would like for them to feel her strength and warmth when they think of her name and her smile. I would like them to find courage and strength when they're facing something difficult and know they have it within them," Lisa Amato said.
You can see a full list of businesses the Kate Amato Foundation is partnering with here.
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