Riya’s Nominator Emily Paxson writes “I am so happy and proud to nominate my sweet little friend Riya Mavar for the third annual Sabina Hartley-Burke and Ava Jane Gibson memorial princess session. I first met Riya when she joined my pre-k classroom at Timothy Road for the 2011-2012 school year. We had been in school for about two weeks when I was called up to the office to meet a new student. Riya was standing there with her parents and I could see she was not too happy about waiting in the office. As soon as we walked to the classroom she was a different child. She stopped crying, ran to the carpet and immediately joined in with the activity the students were participating in leaving her parents behind. I have never seen a child more ready and excited about being in a classroom.
As Riya joined her new friends during dance time, I was able to sit down and talk to her parents. They explained to me that the reason Riya was so excited about coming to school was that she was diagnosed with leukemia around the age of two. This was the first time she was joining kids her own age for long periods of the day. AS I talked with her parents, I could see that they were very nervous about letting Riya stay. As I showed them around the room, Riya came running up and said, “Okay Papa and Seema, it’s time for you to go. Bye!” This first day with Riya showed me how much personality she had and how independent she could be.
There are many things to know about Riya. My first favorite thing is when you ask her what her name is, she always replies “Princess Riya”. This is what she tells everyone she meets. The second important thing to know is that she loves pink! Pink crayons, pink paper, pink toys and especially pink clothes! In fact in Riya’s eyes I bet the whole world looks pink. She would tell me on many occasions that I needed more pink in my classroom. She also liked to tell people that they would be most beautiful and stylish if they would wear pink dresses. When encouraged to play with another color, Riya would immediately say that those were boy colors and that “Princesses only like pink.”
Another thing to know about Princess Riya is that she has spunk! It was apparent from the beginning that she marches to her own drum and makes her own rules in life. For her to survive with her diagnoses for three years shows just how spunky and fearless she is. Riya’s parents always kept me updated with her progress in her treatments, and by the end they would say that Riya wasn’t scared at all of what she was going through. She would have to go into Atlanta for her medication and steroids and shots about 1-2 times a month and throughout the whole thing, she would have her doctors and nurses laughing. She was never one to get discouraged about what she was going through. The only thing that was important to her was getting back to school and her friends.
It is such a big life challenge that Riya has faced at such a young age, but she never looked at herself as different or sick. I was able to witness the sickness that Riya did live with everyday. It was visible in her appearance when she would have a fever or would be getting sick and have to be rushed to the doctor. Though I could see the sickness, Riya made sure that it never showed through her actions. She would always have a big smile on her face. Riya finished up her last chemo treatment around March and has been doing so well. She continues to make her own rules and loves rocking the pink. When I first met her in August her hair was just beginning to grow back in, but now it has gotten long and of course is always adorned with a pink headband. She continues to go in for checkups, but I know through her determination that she is going to go far in this world. My sweet pink princess friend deserves so much in life. Her strength and fearlessness has helped her beat her diagnosis. I nominate her for this wonderful session so she can show the world the pink princess that she really is.”
Whew! This session, Riya made me work for it. The girl does not have an off switch. She chattered through the entire photo session. About fairies, about her dress, about birds, about her bracelets, about her school.. etc. It’s easy to see where she gets her looks from too, her mother and father are both lovely looking people, and SO nice!