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Hundreds Celebrate Short Life of Lexi Brown, Vow to Continue Her ‘Fight Like a Girl’ Crusade

Family pledges to continue 12-year-old Orcutt girl's mission to bring awareness to childhood cancer

Jon Brown, father of Lexi Brown, speaks about the life and loss of the 12-year-old cancer patient on Saturday. Hundreds attended the memorial at the Santa Maria Elks/Unocal Event Center. “What was one little girl’s fight is now that of thousands, so here it is now up to us to follow in the path laid down by the strongest person I’ve never met,” he says. “Fight like girl.” Click to view larger
Jon Brown, father of Lexi Brown, speaks about the life and loss of the 12-year-old cancer patient on Saturday. Hundreds attended the memorial at the Santa Maria Elks/Unocal Event Center. “What was one little girl’s fight is now that of thousands, so here it is now up to us to follow in the path laid down by the strongest person I’ve never met,” he says. “Fight like girl.”                       (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Hundreds of people gathered Saturday to remember Lexi Brown, an Orcutt seventh-grader who became the face of childhood cancer as her “fight like a girl” motto captured the heart of the community and beyond.

Family, friends and strangers, many of whom donned Lexi’s favorite color, purple, and gear touting Team Lexi, attended an emotional memorial at the Santa Maria Elks/Unocal Event Center.

The inspirational 12-year-old with the brilliant smile and generous spirit — who died May 4 while returning from a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France — had captured the attention of a UCLA fraternity and eventually the entire nation as her story became known.

Even as they mourned Lexi and celebrated her life, her family vowed that the girl’s mission won’t end.

“She fought to bring awareness to something not many people knew about,” her dad, Jon Brown, said. “She could never understand why there is so little support or research for something so devastating to families and wanted that to stop.”

He said his daughter “was all about giving, even when she was miserable.”

Her family announced plans to start a nonprofit foundation in Lexi’s name.

“It will continue to raise awareness on childhood cancer but will be more focused on kids and their families fighting cancer,” Brown said. “We know firsthand how much the child fighting, their parents and siblings need to have support of many different kinds.”

Lexi Brown, an Orcutt seventh-grader who died May 4, fought tirelessly to raise awareness about child cancer. Click to view larger
Lexi Brown, an Orcutt seventh-grader who died May 4, fought tirelessly to raise awareness about child cancer. (Brown family photo)

He said a Golden Circle of Champions event inspired by Lexi will become a regular part of the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo to give childhood cancer patients a break while recognizing them as the true champions.

“This cannot stop here and cannot be in vain,” Brown said. “This fight, her fight and the fight for all the other children and the families battling cancer must be carried on.”

Lexi did not lose her fight, but passed it on to everyone else, he added.

“What was one little girl’s fight is now that of thousands, so here it is now up to us to follow in the path laid down by the strongest person I’ve never met,” he said. “Fight like girl.”

Her dad began his speech Saturday with lines of a talk his daughter gave multiple times: Hello, my name is Lexi Brown and I have cancer.

“These are words no child should ever have to say, and no child or family members should ever have to hear,” Brown said. “But because of this we are here today. Lexi was an inspiration to many.”

He and Lexi’s mother, Lisa, tried to figure out what people saw in the girl he described as “a pill” who loved to torment her older brother, Carter, and an otherwise normal kid.

The Rev. Aidan Peter Rossiter, pastor of St. Louis de Montfort Church in Orcutt, speaks during Lexi Brown’s memorial service. Click to view larger
The Rev. Aidan Peter Rossiter, pastor of St. Louis de Montfort Church in Orcutt, speaks during Lexi Brown’s memorial service. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“While talking to friends and family, nobody could explain the reason why she was able to have such an affect on people,” he said. “But there’s no denying she had something special. Maybe it wasn’t anything but being special.

“Those of you met her felt the same way about Lexi as those of you who never met her but knew her story. It was an unexplainable attraction. It was everything — her love, her passion, her innocence, her wit and sarcasm, her ability to live life to the fullest even when her fullest slowly became less and less.”

He described her ability to fight and smile at the same time as one of her strongest attributes.

“Her fight inspired an unknown amount of people and brought together a community in a way I could never even have imagined,” Brown said.

Lexi’s story and smile came to be known across the country as she dealt with cancer, with articles in People and other media outlets.

Last fall, while hospitalized at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, Lexi posted a plea for pizza on a sign in her window.

Members of UCLA’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity spotted the request from across the street and responded in a big way, bringing pizza, flowers and more to the young cancer patient even as they learned of her love for rival USC.

SAE fraternity brother Ian Collis told of playing multiple card games with Lexi, at first figuring he should go easy on her. He quickly learned he was wrong.

An honor guard from the California HIghway Patrol participates in Lexi Brown’s memorial. Her father, Jon works, for the CHP. Click to view larger
An honor guard from the California HIghway Patrol participates in Lexi Brown’s memorial. Her father, Jon works, for the CHP. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“I’m not joking either,” he said. “She is quite the competitive card player.

“One night at their house, I wanted to play ping-pong with her but she couldn’t do it. The next morning she said she had enough energy so we tried and, yeah, she beat me in that, too. She’s quite the sportsman, I tell ya.”

Collis also recalled bringing Lexi fingernail polish, knowing she enjoyed painting her own nails.

 “I quickly realized that was the wrong thing to do because can you guess what colors she painted my nails? They’re not blue and gold, I can tell you that,” he said, adding he got to go out with fingernails painted in USC colors of red and gold. “Everyone loved that.”

Other participants were KCOY-TV anchor Tony Cabrera as master of ceremonies; the Rev. Aidan Peter Rossiter from St. Louis de Montfort Catholic Church; Lexi’s uncle, Brent Jones; and Milania Jubilee Espinoza, 11, of Orcutt, who sang “Ave Maria.”

The ceremony also included the revelation of Lexi’s Lookout, a spot at the rodeo grounds with a 12-year-old oak tree newly planted there in a project that became a reality in four days.

In her spirit, the June 2 opening performance of the four-day Elks Rodeo will be dedicated to childhood cancer awareness, with plans to host families enduring a child with cancer.

“When we started talking about the program and what we wanted to do, there is nobody more deserving of a champion buckle than a child who has to battle this ugly ugly disease,” said Tina Tonascia, from the Elks Rodeo staff, adding they plan to provide a VIP experience.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Brent Jones, Lexi Brown’s uncle, speaks during her memorial. Click to view larger
Brent Jones, Lexi Brown’s uncle, speaks during her memorial. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
Hundreds of people, many dressed in purple, Lexi Brown’s favorite color, attended a memorial for her Saturday. Click to view larger
Hundreds of people, many dressed in purple, Lexi Brown’s favorite color, attended a memorial for her Saturday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

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