LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — There was a face painter, a table full of gifts and a sheet cake with a giant number five candle. Kids and adults sang "Happy Birthday." It was a typical five-year-old's birthday party in every way except one.
"When Ayden passed away a couple years ago I decided when his birthday came again, I wasn't going to sit and cry about it," said Lindsey LiCari, Ayden's mom. "I was going to get out there and show the same love I brought to Ayden on his birthday to all his friends still fighting."
Lindsey LiCari lost her son Ayden to cancer in November of 2017. He was just three years old. The birthday party on Aug. 20 was as much to honor Ayden as it was for kids currently fighting their own battles with cancer. In addition, the party served as a benefit - supporting the organization Lindsey and Ayden started together.
"We started it just making snack bags and we did it together and that's what makes this foundation so special is that every part of it is Ayden. Everything down to our logo, he picked the logo and said, 'look mommy, it's me and you.'"
Ayden's Army of Angels was born of lessons Lindsey learned as a single mom fighting alongside her son.
"There was times when I needed something to drink and Ayden was in the crib and I couldn't possibly leave my son and the moments that I did leave him, my heart would hurt so badly to know that he's okay and that he has everything he needs."
Lindsey understood on a deep, personal level that no mother could leave their child that sick and go function in other areas of their life - at work or dealing with daily stress. So Lindsey and Ayden started the foundation to help other families.
"We fund the survival of families during treatment. So I'll pay mortgages, rents, utilities, car payments, gas, groceries - I'll even throw a birthday party for the kids if the mom can't afford it because they should never miss milestones like this because of treatment. We just try to fill the gaps."
By helping meet basic needs, Lindsey says families can get back to what matters most.
"I want to give these moms the time and the opportunity to love their kid every second that they're here because, like with Ayden, we didn't know how long he was going to be here."
Lindsey continues to be a light for others, who are in the fight or on the other side of it.
"It's a club nobody wants to be involved in but the women and men all gather around and are so open with each other and supportive. It's really amazing and Lindsey is just a star and so strong and we look up to her."
For her strength in unimaginable pain. For her determination, resilience and steadfast fight, Lindsey is our Vegas Stronger Champion.