'They are not alone': Marietta recognizes Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Sep. 1—MARIETTA — Councilman Johnny Walker, Mighty Millie Foundation representatives and others gathered on Marietta Square this week in recognition of those affected by childhood cancer.

Walker, who serves as mayor pro tem on the Marietta City Council, read an official city proclamation recognizing September as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

The morning was one of remembrance and hope, as attendees spent time honoring the late Millie Mracek and countless others affected by childhood cancer.

"It feels like love in action," said Millie's mother, Claire Mracek said. "I know my daughter is looking down and saying 'We did it, mom!"

Nick and Claire Mracek started the foundation following the death of their 3-year-old daughter in 2020 to rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer that forms in soft tissue. They knew they wanted to do something to honor Millie while supporting families who may be going through a similar situation, which led to them starting the foundation.

"We want to help out any way we can, doing so in Millie's name," Nick Mracek said.

Popsicles were a favorite of Millie's, yet something she did not get to have during treatment because the hospital was often out of stock. One of the things the Mraceks did to honor their daughter is visit different hospitals and treatment centers, donating popsicles to the children in the pediatric units. In the last year, the Mighty Millie Popsicle Project donated more than 20,000 popsicles to 16 different childhood cancer centers across the southeast, with hospitals as far away as Texas receiving donations.

"It's a small moment of big joy," he said.

The Mracek family was joined by relatives outside of a promotional tent by the Glover Park bandstand. Among those in attendance was Marietta Schools Superintendent Grant Rivera. Rivera's younger daughter, Reese, beat cancer at 16 months old.

"We want every one of these other families affected to know they are not alone," Rivera said.

The Mraceks approached Walker in 2021 to get something in place to honor Millie, working with Mayor Steve Tumlin to get a proclamation written, Walker said. A year later, they returned to the Square with the same purpose, hoping to be a source of relief for those going through a similar situation to Millie's.

"I just feel led to this group," said Walker. "I see what a great job they're doing in keeping her memory alive with this foundation."

The Mighty Millie Foundation will be hosting different events throughout September in observance of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Claire Mracek said.

"I just want to say thank you to Marietta," said Claire Mracek. "This city has a special culture and heartbeat to it, and I think we all saw that today."

To learn more about the Mighty Millie Foundation, visit https://mightymillie.org.