Wendy and Robert Stanley are preparing to throw the party of the year — a day’s worth of festivities all for their daughter, Kira Stanley.
Kira Stanley died Christmas Day, two years after doctors diagnosed her with a rare brain cancer. She always told her parents she wanted to “go out with a bang.”
“That's what Kira wanted. She was very insistent upon it,” her father Robert Stanley said.
The day’s festivities will include a paddle-out at Moonlight Beach, followed by an afternoon party at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
“Mornings are rough and then as the days go on, you get distracted and don't overthink,” her mother Wendy Stanley said.
Both parents admit the party planning has been a welcomed distraction from the loss of their daughter.
Kira Stanley, a student at La Costa Canyon High School and surf instructor in Encinitas, was diagnosed with a type of brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) in November 2017, father Robert Stanley said.
Since that diagnosis, Kira Stanley's community has rallied around her.
“She wanted people to feel good about themselves and it was genuine,” Wendy Stanley said.
Because of that, she was beloved. Her death did not go unnoticed by one of her favorite artists -- Billie Eilish, 18, shared Kira Stanley's death on her Instagram story with photos of herself hugging Kira Stanley.
“F—. I don’t understand why is this all happening. I hate this. I don’t know how I’m only finding out now you’re not here anymore,” Eilish wrote on an Instagram story photo of Kira Stanley. “I love you so much, Kira. Please fly high. Rest in peace.”
In the beginning, Kira Stanley's family thought her symptoms were just vision problems. After several failed diagnoses and trips to the emergency room, an MRI revealed the tumor inside her brain stem and doctors diagnosed it as DIPG, Robert Stanley said previously.
Kira underwent years of treatment at different facilities, including UC San Diego Health and a hospital in Mexico.
Last year, about 800 people contributed to a fundraiser including her surf hero, professional surfer Kelly Slater, who donated some items for the silent auction.
Kira received widespread support from the community throughout her treatments, including on a GoFundMe page created on her behalf.
A paddle out and celebration of life are expected to be held in January, according to the family. Please check the family-run Facebook page for more details.
“I think that Kira's legacy really is about relationships and about being kind and being accepting and authentic,” Wendy said.