SOUTHAVEN, MS (abc24.com) - Pray for Ava. It's what thousands of Mid-Southerners are doing for a north Mississippi 5-year-old.
Ava Roten was diagnosed with a brain tumor last October. Her family is using Ava's illness to raise awareness about the type of cancer she's fighting, and they're doing it with the support of a local sports team.
The Mississippi RiverKings, who play at the Landers Center in Southaven, heard about Ava. Her story has touched them, along with thousands of others. Ava's family hopes they can help promote brain cancer awareness.
"It is an unusual tumor to have," said Brandon Roten, Ava's father. "Ava's doing well right now. She's bouncing around like a 5-year-old's supposed to… We are extremely hopeful for her future."
She's had surgery and received the best care from Le Bonheur Children's Hospital and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Now Ava's family wants to give back.
"She had the best-case scenario for where it could have been; she had best-case scenario for where we live for the doctors she was placed with."
The Rotens wants to promote awareness about pediatric brain tumors.
"We don't have a lot of medical bills because obviously St. Jude takes care of that, but what we do have and what we've known since October when Ava's surgery occurred is that we have a responsibility."
On March 2nd, they'll be helped by the Mississippi RiverKings with 'Pray for Ava Night.' The Rotens have been working with Whitley Rives, RiverKings Office Manager, to coordinate the event.
According to Rives, "We're discounting all tickets by $5 and we're giving $3 back from every ticket to local pediatric brain cancer efforts in the area."
"My wife and I feel like we have a responsibility to raise awareness for this," Brandon said.
Rives added, "We just want the family or anybody here that night who has been touched by cancer to feel how this community is supporting them in their journey."
The hockey game starts at 7:05 p.m. Ticket prices are $8 and up. The RiverKings encourage those interested to buy ahead of time and if you come, to wear pink.