Corey Gilger was born July 31, 1994, as the fourth child and baby of the family, to Karen and Keith Gilger. Corey had two sisters, Casey and Kelly, and one brother, Keith. Corey was diagnosed on November 22, 2008, with a rare cancer called Peripheral T-Cell Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Corey was treated at the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Oncology Unit where she endured many rounds of chemotherapy, spinal taps and spinal chemo, PET scans, CT scans, lengthy hospital stays, dialysis, and constant body pain. Corey underwent a bone marrow transplant on April 22, 2009. A perfect match was found, the transplant took place, but the cancer in Corey's liver and kidneys proved to be too much for her weak body.
Corey lost her battle with cancer on May 16, 2009, at the young age of 14. Corey had always been a loving, caring and compassionate girl. She was always aware of others' feelings, and had a great love for all animals. During Corey's illness, she spent much time at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and with her keen sense of compassion, she became acutely aware of the mental and financial stress and burdens cancer places on families. Corey's last wish was to help families coping with cancer and to raise funds to help offset the financial obligations, especially for those families at the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Oncology Unit. The Corey Gilger Foundation (CGF) was created to continue to honor Corey's wish and to keep her giving spirit alive. The foundation plans to host fundraisers each year in an effort to assist families and the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Oncology Unit.
History of the Turtle
Ever since she was about five or six years old, Corey had a fascination with and love of turtles. It was not until she passed that we decided to find out what turtles represent. What we discovered was astounding!
Some believe the turtle is the symbol of the primal mother and connected to the lunar cycle. In Far Eastern myths, the shell symbolizes heaven, while the square underside symbolizes earth. Thus, the turtle helps you unite heaven and earth within your life. Ancient myths describe the world as resting on the turtle's back.
The turtle naturally withdraws and goes within when in turmoil. It does not need to learn the importance of this; it naturally knows. The turtle's whole life is one of steadfastness, of effort and patience: slow and steady. There is a saying "home is where the heart is." The turtle is always at home within itself.
In some cultures, the turtle represents calmness and tranquility. In other cultures, the turtle represents bravery, endurance, wisdom, perseverance, safety, or longevity. We believe that Corey was, in many ways, a "turtle," and because of her love of turtles, we felt it would be the perfect mascot for the CGF!