Making Miracles Happen


Anjali Kok and Kylie Millican

It was going to be a simple, easy trip to the ER because of her recent blood work. At least that’s what Naomi Oakes thought. Little did she know that for the next five months, she’d be in the hospital. This was the start of her exhausting battle against cancer. 

“After we got to the emergency room, the doctors started telling me I had Leukemia and after they explained it was a type of cancer, my whole family started crying,” Oakes said. “I was only 11 years old though, so I didn’t couldn’t really understand or process anything that was actually happening. So while my whole family crying i was just very confused.”

Oakes was 11 when she was diagnosed with myeloid leukemia. While in the hospital Oakes met another girl, Ruby, who also had cancer.

“Ruby and I met through talking about Happy Hair Bands, a wig company, after that we started texting a lot and we got really close,” Oakes said “We couldn’t actually talk though because we were never let out of our rooms. She had the same cancer I had but she ended up passing away from it.”

After Ruby passed and Oakes got out of the hospital, Oakes wanted to do something in honor of her. Oakes and her mother tried to come up with many different ideas but ended up creating their own organization called the Nuke the Leuk Foundation.

 “We ended up doing Nuke the Leuk, which is our foundation that we’ve been doing for about five years now,” Oakes said. “Basically what we do is we find a family with a kid who has cancer and needs a lot of help and is going through a lot of stuff. And we do a lot of fundraisers including our big Nuke the Leuk event which is different every year.”

When Oakes started middle school she decided to start a new way of donations called “miracle minute” where she could share her story with many schools in Arizona and ask for donations as the students exit from her talk. 

When she reached high school, Oakes continued to do miracle minutes but only at the local schools. She had previously tried not going to the assemblies but according to Oakes they don’t raise as much money when she is not present. 

  “We’ve done it where I don’t speak at them and they don’t ever raise as much money as when someone is talking about it and making it sentimental,” Oakes said. “Because when students hear about something super sentimental coming from a person who’s experienced it, they are touched and more willing to help out and donate, even more than adults sometimes.”

As Nuke the Leuk events have continued, they have helped many families with cancer expenses through local events.

 Oakes explains previous events included high school dance performances, bounce houses, and movie showings. This year they held a talent showcase at Queen Creek Performing Arts Center, in total this event made precisely $19,590. All of the proceeds went to the Houlik family for their daughter. 

To donate, visit the Nuke the Luek website to help the family in need.