A Youngstown State University student and YSU staff member have joined forces to rally for a local cancer patient.
Karyssa Cortez, a YSU junior and double major in psychology and criminal justice, and Briana Koval, an alumna and current staff member with YSU’s Upward Bound program, have come together in support of Briana Koval’s sister, Kevina.
Kevina Koval, who received news of an inoperable tumor attached to her optic nerve on July 3, is no stranger to medical battles. She suffered from seizures in her youth and at age 19, doctors discovered a tumor in her brain. Due to its location, surgery was not an option, forcing the doctors to leave the tumor.
As the tumor spread, Kevina Koval lost her ability to see peripherally due to its attachment to her optic nerve. Any surgical attempt to remove the tumor would leave her blind, making chemotherapy her only option. She will be undergoing weekly radiation treatments for at least the next 10 months.
To help offset the cost of treatment, travel and living expenses, Cortez is holding a fundraiser, “Push for Kevina,” on Aug. 23 at St. Joseph the Provider Hall, 633 Porter Ave.
Cortez, a family friend of the Kovals, remembers the emotional waves the family dealt with after receiving the news of Kevina Koval’s tumor.
“It was just really sad … I remember crying a lot with Briana,” Cortez said. “I couldn’t do anything to help medically, but I figured financially I could help, and that’s where the fundraiser came from.”
“Push for Kevina” will feature a Chinese auction, including a Cleveland Browns football signed by defensive end Desmond Bryant, a date night package including a $25 gift card to Springfield Grille and a free overnight stay at the Hampton Inn, free rounds of golf at three different courses and a beauty basket.
All of the funds raised at the event will go to Kevina Koval’s medical bills, travel and living expenses.
Alongside the fundraiser, other outlets to support Kevina Koval have sprung up, including a “GoFundMe” crowdsourced fundraising campaign, which has brought in $2,090 in the month it has been active. A Facebook support page titled Kevina Koval Support Group gives friends, family and supporters a place to write words of encouragement and prayers, while giving Kevina Koval and her family an outlet for updating those following her battle.
Kevina Koval hopes to make an appearance at the fundraiser, though medical obligations may not allow her participation.
“She really wants to be there,” Cortez said. “She’s just a big sweetheart. She doesn’t complain, she’s always upbeat and she’s incredibly thankful for all of the support she’s getting.”