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Teens with cancer get a break from hospital to experience Mardi Gras

Sunshine Kids is a national non profit that brings a couple dozen kids with cancer every year to experience Mardi Gras.

NEW ORLEANS — It's Mardi Gras time so we're all getting ready for parades and celebrations, but unfortunately not everyone is able to get out and be a part of the experience. Many kids are stuck in hospitals right now, but one group is making it possible for those kids to experience the Big Easy.

A couple dozen teens, from 12-17 years old, are in from all over the country. They only recently met, but they've all faced similar battles. 

"We all connect better because we have things in common," 16-year-old Truman Steeley said. 

Steeley is visiting from California. As a teenager, he was diagnosed with Leukemia. He's been in remission for a year.

"We don't get to go out much because we're in-patient all the time and we don't get to see many things," he said. "We're just in the hospital sitting, waiting for something good."

All of the kids visiting New Orleans through the Sunshine Kids Foundation are currently fighting cancer or have beat cancer.

"What they're going through is what you're going through too," said 15-year-old Zoe Evans from Florida who had Ovarian Cancer. 

Taylor Mangus is a nurse from Baton Rouge. She's volunteering with the Sunshine Kids to help with their trip. 

"It's a rare thing, but here it's the norm and I think they need that," Mangus said. "They understand on a totally different level to have that childhood interrupted.

She understands it too.

"I was actually a Sunshine Kid myself," Mangus said. 

Mangus had Leukemia in high school. She's been off treatment for six years.

"I remember how difficult it was to be 15 and bald and you're sick all the time and all you want it some normalcy," Mangus said. 

Sunshine Kids is a national non-profit that brings a couple dozen kids with cancer every year to experience Mardi Gras.

"This is my first time," Evans said. 

It's all at no cost to the kids or their families.

"We get to see all this happiness and everyone's supporting us," Steeley said. 

It gives them all a break from the hospital to just be a kid.

The group spends about a week in New Orleans going to Mardi Gras World, taking a swamp tour, and they're evening riding in the Krewe of Freret Saturday on Float 15.