The Friendship Paddle

Alanna Watson · Keiki Paddle 2022

Alanna Watson

Alanna was a kindergartner at Isla Vista Elementary School. She loved to run through obstacle courses and play hide and seek. Near the end of 2017, Alanna started to have trouble with her balance. A couple of months later, she started to fall out of chairs for no reason. Then her hands stopped doing what she wanted them to, and she couldn’t use scissors or utensils. Finally, a few days before St Patrick’s Day of 2018, Alanna woke up with a headache and nausea which lasted for about an hour, then went away. The next day, the symptoms lasted for 4 hours and on St Patrick’s Day itself, the symptoms never went away.

After much effort to receive quality medical support an MRI revealed a tumor the size of a tangerine in the back of Alanna’s brain, and she was immediately airlifted to UCLA Hospital for treatment. Abruptly, the Watsons were effectively homeless and jobless. After 6 weeks of radiation, a year of chemotherapy, 19 blood transfusions and many tears and prayers, Alanna was free of cancer, but this was hardly the end of her family’s struggles.

While Alanna’s father, Steve, was able to finish his PhD in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from UCSB while she was in treatment, dozens of job applications went unanswered. At the same time, Emilee, Alanna’s mother, was occupied as Alanna’s full-time caregiver, making holding a job impossible. Finally, Steve realized that he was meant to put his talents to use elsewhere; giving back to the community that had supported the Watson family through their trials. In the summer of 2019, Steve accepted a position with Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation and began supporting other families struggling with a pediatric cancer diagnosis, where he continues to work today.

Today, Alanna’s favorite things include her baby sister Lucy, her puppy Topsie and anything related to dinosaurs. She also loves the beach, surfing, and fishing.

The Keiki Paddle is scheduled for July 16th, 2022. The registration and fundraising pages are in the works! You should hear from us soon.

Previous Paddles

Children between the ages of 7 and 18 participate in an open ocean paddle
to provide financial and emotional support to both a child with a life-threatening illness
and a non-profit organization that supports children in the Santa Barbara community.
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