Raising money for cancer research at the football game are (l to r) Anastasiya, followed by classmates Tia and Chase, Rachel Graczak (teacher), and host sister Bailey.

First Time Excitement

My family and I are truly enjoying Anastasiya and the excitement that fills the air around her. This is our first year hosting, and my first year as a coordinator. Anastasiya’s daily wonder of the world—which we take for granted by now—has been a very refreshing experience for our whole family.  

We have celebrated many firsts while at her side: her first float trip, first time camping in a camper, first time visiting a cave, first time watching a baseball game (go Cardinals!), first time watching a high school football game, first time visiting Fitz Root Beer Factory, first time riding a school bus, first time watching a huge pyromania fireworks display, first time at Six Flags, first time apple picking, and first time eating a homemade caramel apple. We look forward to celebrating many more firsts in the future.

Anastasiya’s drive to help those in need by volunteering has even helped our family become volunteers. At the prompting of Anastasyia, my daughter Bailey has joined SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) at school. They both have volunteered after school to raise money for cancer awareness. Anastasyia has also given me reason to get involved with a local food pantry. I found this to be a very rewarding experience. We learned that with volunteers like us, over 150 families will be fed this week. We plan on volunteering again soon.

What a great beginning we have all had together!

—Leanna Lueder (MO), host mom of Anastasyia (FLEX, Ukraine)