RIVERDALE -- Three-year-old Alexa Hering stood waiting with a strand of pink beads around her neck. Pink flowers dotted her denim pants. And then the pink fire truck pulled up to the driveway, pulling a massive pink ribbon sculpture.
The drivers descended, handing Alexa a pink fire hat.
Good thing pink is her favorite color.
For Alexa, who was diagnosed with anaplastic ependymoma brain cancer in 2010, the Pink Heals Tour that rolled through Riverdale on Thursday became a celebration.
Local fire departments rallied around the two pink fire trucks covered with the signatures of cancer victims and their supporters, stationed for the day in the RC Willey's parking lot. Crowds consumed pink cotton candy and donned pink garb while being photographed with firefighters decked out in, of course, pink.
"The Pink Heals Tour exposes a lot of people to cancer and shows kids like Alexa they don't have to be afraid," said Ali Chaffee, Alexa's grandmother.
When Alexa's mother, Siara Hering, first saw her daughter's cancer on an MRI, it was the size of a soda can. Alexa has gone through 31 rounds of radiation, and her regular scans are coming back clean. The journey has been a tough one, complete with losing 12 inches of hair at age 2, but Alexa pushes on and recently graduated from preschool.
Officially, Alexa's cancer can't be declared in remission until after five years of clean scans. But her family is hopeful.
"She's a strong girl," said Chaffee, a Riverdale resident. "She will defy the odds."
In the meantime, Alexa's father lost his job, car and apartment. The weight of $200,000 in medical bills can be quite a burden, Siara Hering said, but events like the Pink Heals Tour help keep the family optimistic.
"This is a big support group," Chaffee said, motioning toward the crowd that had gathered around the fire truck. "There is hope for others out there."
The Pink Heals Tour is sponsored by a national nonprofit organization founded in 2008 by a breast cancer patient who wanted to help others navigate the path to treatment.