MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s something your mother told you never to do: eat ice cream for breakfast. But one Forest Lake family is asking everyone to eat ice cream Wednesday morning.
It’s all part of a campaign that’s gone international to remember their daughter and to support all children battling cancer.
“My daughter Malia was a spit fire,” Annette Peterson said. “She loved to laugh, she loved to party.”
If Malia were alive she would likely be preparing for a party. February 18, 2015 would have been her 14th birthday, but Malia never made it to her 10th.
“We brought her into the doctor. They did a CT [scan] and they discovered she had a kidney cancer that had metastasized to several different areas in her body. She was a pretty sick little girl,” Peterson said.
In the 14 months Malia battled the disease, her family’s eyes opened to the lonely life cancer families live.
“It was a really tough time. It’s really lonely,” Peterson said. “When you’re in the hospital with a child with cancer there’s a lot of restrictions on visitors because they are really prone to infections. So, these families, they feel isolated.”
After Malia passed, the Petersons wanted to find a way to let those families know they’re not alone.
“We had gone to Disney World on a Make A Wish trip three weeks before Malia passed away and we had ice cream for breakfast at a resort there,” Peterson said. “It was such an awesome, fun experience for us. And Malia especially was like ‘Why don’t we always do this? This is awesome.'”
Last year on Malia’s birthday, that’s what they set out to do. They asked friends and family to eat ice cream for breakfast, take a picture and post on social media.
They couldn’t believe the response.
“They showed up with these amazing pictures from drive-thrus and kitchen tables and living rooms. We just felt really encouraged and supported that day,” Peterson said.
This year, they hope more families who have children battling cancer will see the pictures and smile.
“It’s really about supporting our kids and childhood cancer families for who they are beyond cancer. They’re still kids,” Alisa Matheson, Malia’s aunt, said.
“They’re not alone. There’s a whole world of people out there who care that this is hard and just want to come alongside them and help,” Peterson said.
It may only be the second annual Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day, but already people on Facebook from 83 countries are participating.
A celebration of a global scale no one could have predicted, not even the girl who loved to party.
“When she was little she would invite literally everyone to her birthday parties, from the greeter at Walmart, to the gas station attendant to everyone. She was all about the party,” Peterson said. “So, to know that her story and her life inspired this world-wide party, she would be so crazy excited.”
If you would like to join the cause and eat some ice cream for breakfast, please take a picture, post to social media with the hashtags: #icecreamforbreakfast or #kidsgetcancertoo.