LIBERTY LAKE, Wash. - As hundreds of students returned to school last September, one student's seat remained empty--Payton Begovich's desk.
"She had no peripheral vision in her left field of vision, and she had been complaining about that for a few weeks," recalled Payton's dad, Tony Begovich.
After getting in to see an eye doctor, she was shuffled around to other health care experts before an MRI confirmed the worst: a malignant brain tumor.
"Payton only asked the question once, and it was the day they discovered a tumor inside her head, and she asked, "Well, how did it get there?' And it was explained to her that they really don't know. She's never asked again," he said.
"She's never complained. She's never griped. She's basically said, "Guys, do whatever you can to fix it.'"
In and out of the hospital since September, her condition drastically changed in January.
"On Wednesday the 5th, we got the results of the MRI, and they were not good. The tumor has grown and within a couple-hour's time span, COVID hit her. By that night she was intubated and in the ICU unit for 3 days," he said.
Another 9 long days were spent in an isolation room.
"She had to be taken by ambulance home because she currently can't walk. She's lost all motor skills on her left side," Tony explained.
That event forced her to stop the experimental radiation trial she was on. Right now, she is halfway through the first cycle of chemo, but the bills are adding up for Payton's family.
"I couldn't tell you how much we've spent. It's a lot," he said.
After the community showed so much support at a Pita Pit fundraiser in October, they are asking once more for help, encouraging everyone to 'skate for a cause' this Saturday at Roller Valley.
"Everything is going to go towards Payton's medical costs, so whatever we can do to help Jennifer and Tony not have to stress and take care of Payton without worrying about money, is important," Breanne Stachofsky, Payton's aunt said.
Skating goes from 7-9 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 22nd. It's $20 per person, and all the proceeds go to Payton's family. It's being put together by HRC Ministries and Roller Valley. Skaters also encouraged to bring a can of food for donations if you have one to spare. There will be #PaytonPower t-shirts and wristbands for sale, too!
If you can't make it or don't skate, you can donate through Payton's GoFundMe page, or send donations to their Venmo: @Paytonpower15
"Because of where she's at mobility-wise, she has a hard time smiling right now. But she's still cracking jokes the way she was 4 months ago, and she knows we will continue the fight no matter what," said Tony.