While fighting her second bout of brain cancer, Southfield teen raises money for other sick kids

There's not much that can keep Emily Grombala down, even finding out she had a brain tumor when she was just eight years old.

She had it removed, but it returned.

"A couple years later when I was 10, my tumor came back, so now I'm still on the fight - fighting the tumor," said Emily.

Even though Emily's brain tumor returned, it didn't dim her goal in life to be a light unto to others.

"She is just an incredible young teen and she knows what it is to have an issue, a diagnosis, so she's giving back and that's just unbelievable," said Nancy Sorvan, who runs a nonprofit called Wish Upon a Teen.

After volunteering with multiple programs at Marion High School to support Lighthouse of Oakland County, Angels' place, and equine therapy, Emily and her friend Marylin Kowalewski decided it was time to take matters into their own hands.

That meant helping those in need in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, despite Emily's medical condition.

Like several other groups who've found success in collecting recyclables leftover from the stay at home order, Emily and Marilyn got to work, picking up every single empty bottle and can they could find to turn into cash for a worthy cause.

"They went around and collected 21,000 cans," Sorvan said. "Just the two of them."

"I just think that it's really cool that it's for all the teenagers and the different activities we've done together - you see kids in the same shoes as your or (on a) similar journey fighting diseases," Emily said. "It's good to come together and see that and have fun and enjoy life while we still can." 

"I think it's good to give back. especially this organization because it helps teenagers (and) kids my age," said Marylin. 

Several weeks and 80 trips to the store later, these industrious young ladies had a big check to present to a charity very near and dear to Emily's heart: Wish Upon a Teen.

The group is an organization dedicated to providing resources, time, and opportunity to teens with severe medical conditions. That's become an increasingly important role being filled amid the COVID-19 pandemic when visits to people who are immunocompromised have made hospital visits nearly impossible for families.