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A local family is taking steps to make sure that individuals afflicted with cancer of the brain never have to walk alone.

Just two days before Christmas, Adriana Torres’ mother Maria entered the emergency room and, on Christmas Eve, underwent surgery for what the family would later learn was a type of brain tumor known as a glioblastoma. Determined to see to it that her mother did not suffer alone, Torres, of Waldorf, started doing research about brain cancer to find ways to support her mom. Through Facebook, Torres heard of Race for Hope, a 5K run and walk sponsored by the National Brain Tumor Society that raises funds and awareness for victims of this form of cancer.

“Without that ... I otherwise wouldn’t have known about it,” Torres said. “[Brain tumors] don’t have that kind of publicity. They aren’t that common. It’s hard to find any support groups.”

Although Torres said she has not been able to connect with any local families affected by the disease, she hopes to use the day, May 5, to connect with those similarly affected. Torres established a team in her mother’s honor, Team Maria. According to the team’s page on the Race for Hope website, the team has 37 members and has raised $4,005 for research and funding, exceeding the team’s original $2,500 benchmark.

Torres said the support received from family and friends has been encouraging.

“I’m hyped about this. ... It happens, and you feel helpless. The least you can do is form a team to raise money,” Torres said. “It’s been amazing how many people have given money. It’s been a good response.”

Adriana’s father, Gerard Torres, said the event is “not only about the cancer, but the fragility of life itself.”

“It feels great. I feel very proud of Adriana for taking the initiative to do something positive and proactive,” Gerard Torres said. “Hopefully this will raise enough to continue with the research and find new drugs and fight this monster. We’re hopeful, and we’ve been blessed.”

Gerard Torres described his wife as a “woman of so much faith,” and said the event has only reinforced it in her.

“The little things that people do in the community ... that’s what makes anyone stronger, and people don’t realize that,” Gerard Torres said. “It’s the little things. No one does this alone. We fight the battle one day at a time ... and support one another.”

Maria Torres’s godson, Eric Vasquez of Leesburg, Va., is participating on the team and said he felt it was the least he could do to assist his relative in her time of need.

“The cause was one I’ve known about, but it didn’t hit home until she was diagnosed,” Vasquez said. “Part of the challenge for all of us walking is seeing them suffer through this. ... You really don’t fully understand, but once you do, it compels you to take action, to get involved. You can’t sit idly by once you see that happen to a loved one. I’m anticipating a beautiful day with a lot of family, love and camaraderie.”

lrenner@somdnews.com