13-year-old Airen Craig is as tough as they come.

Known around Patchogue and Medford as the only girl to play football in the Suffolk County Police Athletic League, Airen is now fighting her toughest battle yet, this time against cancer.

She is diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, which is a rare bone and soft tissue cancer that affects around 200 Americans per year.

Airen, an eighth grader at Saxton Middle School, is recovering from a 12-hour procedure that removed a cancerous tumor from her body. She still has to undergo chemotherapy.

On Feb. 2, there will be a paint night fundraiser to help pay for Airen’s medical expenses. Local businesses, along with Saxton Middle School’s PTA, teamed up to help the family.

Patrice Garone, a PTA member who lost a child to cancer, knows the meaning of helping those during trying times.

“As Saxton moms [in the PTA], we wanted to help this family in need,” said Garone. “[Airen] is the sweetest girl you’ve ever met and her family are really sweet, nice people.”

The event will be from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Ristegio’s restaurant on Route 112 in North Patchogue.

Ristegio’s donated the facility to the cause.

Kilwins, located at 74 East Main Street in Patchogue, is selling the $35 tickets, cash only, in limited supply. Or contact Patrice at 516-381-8166 or

The tickets cost $35 each and include a wine glass, vase, or candleholder to paint along with raffle tickets to prizes given by local businesses.

The Craig family is also seeking donations at their page called, “Angels For Airen.”

More fundraisers are coming as soon as March.

courtesy photo