Friday, April 18, 2014 9:50 PM
Published on: Thursday, June 27, 2013
By Donna Broadway
BALTIMORE – On June 5, only three days removed from her 23rd birthday, Thomas died at Loma Linda Medical Center in Murrieta, Calif., from a rare form of intraocular lymphoma cancer and melanoma.
In her honor, several Catholic High School alumnae – Thomas’ friends – under the guise of Ashlee’s Army, are having a bull roast on Aug. 18 at Rosedale Gardens in Baltimore. The bull roast will raise money to help pay for funeral and medical expenses incurred by Thomas’s family and for a scholarship to be awarded to a Catholic High School student who has been directly affected by cancer.
Since the form of cancer that killed Thomas is so rare, the scholarship will be available to those affected by all forms of cancers.
“This girl is so amazing, everybody was touched by her. So when I saw that, it was like we have got to do something here for her. We have got to put something together,” said Lisa Pasco, one of the organizers of the bull roast. “We were like ‘let’s all get tattoos,’ or ‘let’s plan a vigil, or a party.’ Let’s celebrate Ashlee and her life because she’s touched all of us. It’s so sad that she’s so young. All of us are so amazed at her and her strength. She fought for an extra week – they didn’t think she was going to make it through the night – and she did, and she kept fighting to the very end.”
Thomas was diagnosed with cancer a year and a half before she died. The cancer caused her to go blind in her left eye. Pasco said that by the time Thomas died, the cancer spread so much that her liver and one of her lungs were malignant.
On June 1, doctors predicted Thomas would not survive to see her birthday. Friends and family banded together to pray and send positive thoughts to Thomas. She held on for five days. Before Thomas took a turn for the worst, her friends planned a fundraiser for Thomas’ birthday at a Baltimore Orioles game. Thomas was excited to fly back to Baltimore to attend, although she never did.
With help from Theresa Taulbee, a planner of the bull roast and a fellow Catholic High School alumna, the girls launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $500 for the down payment for Rosedale Gardens. The campaigned raised nearly $1500.
Taulbee said she was moved to become involved with Ashlee’s Army because her son’s health problems, a fundraiser held by friends and family to help pay for her son’s medical bills and the connection through Catholic High School.
“If I can help someone else alleviate that stress that I know was taken off of me, I know I would help in a heartbeat,” Taulbee said. “On top of that, Catholic High is a very close-knitted community. When you go there, you’re sisters – whether you know them or not, when one of your sisters is hurting or passes away, the whole school, the whole alumni, comes together knowing it is someone who went to Catholic High and my grade school, you just mourn them whether you know them or don’t know them.”
Tickets to the bull roast are $40, and Ashlee’s Army members expect the 300-seat hall to be sold out. The event will feature a performance by The Great Escape, a photo booth, a money wheel, a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle, a basket of cheer and door prizes. The girls will also make temporary tattoos for guests with the class of 2008 motto: “Lux tua luceat,” Latin for “Let your light shine.”
To buy tickets for the event, contact Taulbee at Ashleesarmy@gmail.com or 410-206-6971.