At the 1995 tournament held in honor of Jordan Stuart, Kyra Megan Pillsbury, nearly four years old, was dancing about, her short hair crowned with pink feathers and shiny sequins, a laughing fairy princess waving her magic wand. Radiant, dynamic, loving and articulate, Kyra was diagnosed with an aggressive malignant brain tumor just after her third birthday.
Kyra's family spent the entire summer of 1994 living at the Family House across the street from UCSF Medical Center while Kyra had surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. Her baby brother, Gannon, took his first steps at the Family House. As the tumor began to shrink, Kyra was walking again and soon was hauling herself up and down the stairs. In September Kyra's family returned to Santa Cruz and Kyra remained in remission until just after Christmas. With incredible luck and cutting-edge chemotherapy, she came back from the brink again to dance and charm her way through much of the following spring and summer.
The family spent most of the fall of 1995 again at the Family House and the hospital but we were home for Thanksgiving and for Gannon's second birthday. Kyra was determined to walk again but just after Christmas she lost all use of her left side. After a year and a half of hospitals, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, blood draws, transfusions, and magic wands, Kyra died at home on February 15, 1996.
Through it all, Kyra continued to give, to love, and to deeply touch the lives of everyone who knew her, flashing the sign language shorthand for "I Love You" even after she could no longer speak.