A 7-year-old Chandler girl's fundraising efforts for her friend battling acute myeloid leukemia is gaining momentum and has garnered national attention as she plans to expand her cause nationwide.
Kiana Banks, a second grader at Chandler's Hull Elementary School who turned 7 on Thursday, said all she wanted for her birthday - and for Christmas - is for her friend and classmate, Amber Fernandez, to get well and come home.
Banks' goal? To raise a $100,000 to help pay for Amber's bone marrow transplant scheduled to take place at Phoenix Children's Hospital next month.
After a large turnout at the first fundraiser Kiana held for Amber at Marley Farms in Gilbert last week, numerous vendors and organizations and Kiana's church, Brighter Day Deliverance Ministries in Tempe, made donations.
So far, $2,103.74 has been raised toward the $100,000 goal.
Amber, the daughter of Ben and Kelly Fernandez of Chandler and a second grader at Hull Elementary School, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in July.
She recently underwent her third round of chemotherapy, but will be home for Thanksgiving. Amber's 4-year-old brother, Benjamin, is a 100 percent match to be the bone marrow donor.
For her 7th birthday, Kiana said she just wanted Amber to get better so she could come home, but Kiana's mother, Keshia, said the family did take her out for dinner.
Amber and Kiana have been pals since they met in first grade last year. They both love to draw, shop and talk about hearthrob Justin Bieber.
Other fundraisers are being held for Amber. The second-grade students at Hull will present a 165-square quilt to her next month for Christmas that is being stitched by the students and sewn together by Eagle Wings Quilting Store in Casa Grande.
Kiana is pushing for other schools to get involved across the nation as well.
She is appealing to students at other schools to start a campaign across the nation called "Pennies for Amber: Help Kiana raise $100,000 for Amber Fernandez."
Schools can ask students to bring in their pennies and put them in a container. Then, the schools can mail in the money to Hull Elementary in Chandler. Kiana will buy pizza for the school that collects the most pennies.
Kiana's cause has captured attention by the national media including the Associated Press and USA Today, and more people are calling to see how they can donate to Kiana's cause, Keshia Banks said.
What does Kiana say about all this?
"I'm gonna reach my goal," she said.