Greg Beckler simply smiled when his daughter, Raelyn, asked what colors the Baltimore Ravens wear. The 3-year-old didn't know much about the Ravens.
But Beckler said Raelyn was excited when the Ravens held on for an emotional victory against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday. It wasn't just emotional for the Ravens. It was also meaningful for Raelyn and her family.
That's because friends of the family held a special party, naming it, "Ravens for Raelyn," Sunday at Mike Mackellar's Shady Canyon home in Irvine. A year ago, Raelyn was diagnosed with leukemia.
The event raised $8,000, as roughly 700 guests attended, said Alan Freeman, who helped promote the Super Bowl party that had a deejay spinning tunes during halftime and the power outage at the Superdome in the second half. There was also plenty of food and drinks.
It was a packed party. It seemed like everything came together. Even 49ers fans could feel like winners.
Partygoers with a New Year's diet might've felt guilty with all the food they ate at Mackellar's home, but there was no remorse or regret about helping the Becklers.
The Becklers, from Dana Point, have confronted challenges that come from the highs and lows of leukemia.
The disease hits home for me. My father, Julian, died of the disease when he was 50. I have met some pro athletes and watched several sporting events throughout my life. Above all that, I refer to my dad, a Vietnam vet, as the main role model of my life.
I am grateful I was able to spend 18 years of my life with such a wonderful man who introduced me to my love for sports.
Hearing the Becklers' story obviously touched my heart. I visited their website, http://www.giveforward.com/raelynbeckler, where I saw heartwarming photos of Raelyn with her mom, Rebecca, and dad.
It's amazing to see a child smile amid the reality of so much pain. Just from the photos you can see a fighting spirit. Greg has called her, "Warrior Princess."
She is undergoing monthly chemotherapy treatments at Children's Hospital of Orange County. Raelyn also takes a chemotherapy pill each day, steroids one week out of every month and weekend medicine to fight off infections, that's from a message from Greg on the website.
The plan is for her to receive this treatment until April 2014.
Through it all, Raelyn has still provided several moments of just being a little girl, the only child to Greg and Rebecca.
Greg has seen Raelyn innocently play with her dolls, sometimes having them feed each other pretend chemo pills.
"Sometimes I feel like I'm the one hurting more than her because she's happy," Greg said. "We, as adults, just have a different perception than her. It's like when it's raining outside, she'll say, 'Daddy, it's a beautiful day.' It's amazing."
The Becklers spent Valentine's Day at CHOC last year. They plan to return to the hospital to hand out Valentine's cards for others in the cancer ward who will spend Feb. 14 at CHOC.
They want to give what they can. The medical bills they have can be stressful. The bills average $300 a week that their insurance doesn't cover. That's why they were so grateful for Mackellar and the Super Bowl party.
Greg said the event and the way people gave changed him and the way he views people.
"I'm completely humbled by it," he said. "I don't know how to express it."
The Becklers will always be grateful for the Super Bowl party, where everyone won.