By Doug Spoon, editor
Family and friends of a Menifee woman who passed away last month at the age of 36, created a foundation in honor of her love for children and animals and her passion for helping others.
Stacia Ann-Ranee Danford died on February 15 after an eight-year battle with breast cancer, an additional rare cancer, and leukemia. She lived in Menifee for most of her life and has been commemorated by many family members and local residents with donations to her name. Donations of food and supplies to local animal organizations continue.
Additionally, those close to Danford founded Stacia’s Brite Little Something, a foundation created to help children with cancer. The foundation is in the process of applying for 501c3 non-profit status.
“Stacia refused to be defined by cancer,” said Stacey Williams, her aunt. She had the strongest will to live the best she could and get on with life. She taught us all how to love and care for others with courage and dignity, even despite all of her health challenges. A testament to strength and grace, Stacia fought through it showing us all how to be a beautiful person.
“Stacia loved all kinds of animals. She adopted her two dogs, Pebbles and Coco, and her cat Pumpkin. She also loved and interacted with all pets. This is why the first act of kindness was chosen [as] donations to local shelters. “
Each month has a theme, Williams said. April’s theme is “Acts of Kindness.” Details about the Brite Little Something Foundation and donations to animal organizations can be found on the Brite Little Something Facebook page.
Stacia was born on November 8, 1984 with twin brother, Steve Vaughn. The family moved to Menifee in 1989. She attended Chester Morrison Elementary School, Menifee Valley Middle School and Paloma Valley High School and graduated in 2002. Stacia played AYSO football and Bobby Sox softball, participated in karate, learned to play the piano and was a Daisy and Brownie in Girl Scouts, her aunt said. She also loved riding her horse Tammy in the hills around Menifee and taking part in local horse shows.
After graduating from UC Irvine with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Stacia reconnected with a high school classmate, James Danford. They were married on May 26, 2012 at Monteleone Meadows in Murrieta.
In September 2013, Stacia was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. In 2014, she went into remission for almost two years before the cancer returned to stage 4. She was also diagnosed with Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS), a predisposition to a wide variety of cancers. After years of fighting the disease, multiple surgeries and more than 100 chemotherapy treatments, Stacia was diagnosed with leukemia in January.
Four weeks after she was admitted to the City of Hope in Duarte, Stacia was told she had beaten leukemia. But the devastating toll on her immune system made her more susceptible to a rare fungal infection in the lungs that eventually took her life.
“My niece was a wonderful young woman,” said Williams. “She has inspired so many people with her strength and grace while undergoing cancer treatment since she was diagnosed in 2013. She had such a kind and pure heart, she has never met a stranger, she has made many friends on the internet and we have countless stories of her selflessness By simply being herself, she has inspired a tremendous flow of love and selflessness in everyone who knew her or in people who have heard of her.
“Stacia has always wanted to do things for children affected by cancer. She also loved animals. She also reached out to the homeless. Many people in town knew her. The outpouring was unreal. She touched so many lives.”
Husband James Danford and Stacia’s parents, Menifee residents Steve and Stephanie Vaughn, organize the Brite Little Something Foundation. In the meantime, they have requested donations of dog and cat supplies for local shelters. In response to previous social media posts and word of mouth, the family has already collected more than 500 cans of wet cat food; 518 pounds of dry cat food; 200 cans of wet dog food; 652 pounds of dry dog food; 328 pounds of cat litter; 89 cat toys; 113 dog toys; and many other supplies.
This Saturday, the donated supplies will be divided among three animal organizations in the area. Residents can donate additional supplies at any of these locations during the following times on Saturday:
Retrievers and Friends, 26510 Murrieta Road, Menifee: 2:00 PM
Passion for Paws, 28930 Ellis Ave, Menifee: 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
ARE, 101 E., Florida Ave, Hemet: 12: 30-1: 30 PM
For more information about the Brite Little Something Foundation, send an email to Staciasbls@gmail.com.