Tea Party supports Tori Svenson, an 8-year-old with brain cancer

Eight-year-old Tori Svenson loves fashion, putting together outfits and dressing up. She wants to design her own clothes when she grows up and one of her first projects would be a "fashionable" hospital gown, says her mother Penny.

Last year, Tori was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a malignant form of brain cancer. She had surgery in Atlanta to remove a tumor the size of a tangerine from her brain stem just days after being diagnosed and went through 30 rounds of radiation treatments. She's currently undergoing chemotherapy and is expected to complete it in July.

If she can make it five years without the tumor returning, Tori has an 88 percent chance of survival. If her tumor returns, Tori's doctors say it will be fatal, Penny said.

To raise money for Tori's treatments, family friend Ashley Osborne is organizing a Princess Tea Party, inspired by Tori's love of fashion.

"It's all about fashion and dressing up and being girly," Osborne said. "It's a really fun event for girls to come together."

The event will include kid-friendly afternoon tea -- a light meal with cakes, fruit and candy -- as well as booths along the 1000 block of Broadway for arts and crafts, games, make-up and costumes. Osborne said one of her favorite stations is the photo booth, where girls can dress up in costume jewelry and get their picture taken. There will also be horse and carriage rides for $5.

Osborne said girls of all ages are invited to dress up. She said a $25 ticket offers access for a girl and her "fairy godmother" -- one parent or chaperone. Since her rainy day plan is to host the tea party indoors at Downstairs at the Loft, only 50 tickets will be sold, she said.

Penny said the tea party was an example of the community's support since Tori's diagnosis.

Tori has also raised money for other cancer victims, she said.

Before her diagnosis, she was raising money through Relay for Life for another local girl, Madi Douglas.

The day she delivered the money to the director, Tori was also diagnosed with brain cancer, Penny said.

Penny said her daughter still does some of her favorite things, like playing with her American Girl doll, putting together outfits and hanging out with friends on her good days. Her illness has been tough on their family, including Tori's 13-year-old brother Hunter.

"It was so hard in the beginning, as Tori and literally lived in Atlanta for six weeks and Hunter was left to deal with so much on his own," Penny said. "He had a great deal of support from his teachers and counselors at school, but he struggled to keep it together."

She said they've "rallied as a family." Watching her daughter go through surgery and multiple rounds of radiation and chemotherapy has been painful, Penny said, but she's also inspired by Tori's fighting spirit and positive attitude.

"I asked Tori just today, 'If you could take your cancer away, would you?'" She didn't hesitate to say she would not," she said. "I asked her why and she said, 'Because I wouldn't be able to help other families and children going through this.'"

Sara Pauff, 706-320-4469