OUR HEROES

Carlos Moran

Carlos Moran was an elementary school teacher, national Judo Champion, an amazing uncle, son, brother and loving husband

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Carlos Moran was an elementary school teacher, national Judo Champion, an amazing uncle, son, brother and loving husband to his wife, Charissa. If you knew Carlos or just met him on the street, you would instantly notice that he had a positive outlook on life. He was an incredibly sweet person and loved by so many. Shortly after graduating from college, getting married and starting his teaching career, Carlos was diagnosed with Stage 4 renal medullary carcinoma (RMC), an aggressive and often fatal kidney cancer found in individuals with sickle cell trait.

He was only 27.

Carlos started practicing Judo when he was 8 years old. His passion, dedication and persistence to perfect his skills paid off by winning the competition and becoming a “National Judo Champion.” He travelled around the world to compete and taught Judo for 10 years. His status as a third-degree black belt and “National Judo Champion” did not change his kind and gentle demeanor. Throughout his life, he loved children and knew one day that he would become an educator. His passion for teaching led him to pursue a career in education.

Upon completing college, Carlos began teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th grade science, and later began teaching special education. Even throughout his cancer battle and numerous treatments, he found the strength to return to his classroom at Norman S. Weir, a public school in Paterson. When the cancer became too advanced, he made the difficult decision to place his teaching career on hold. It was heartbreaking to leave his students because he loved them so much.

Within the course of four years, Carlos endured seven different types of treatments, five surgeries, and three procedures. He received his first treatment at New York Presbyterian Hospital and after seven months his scans revealed that he was in remission. We rejoiced with the news and felt like he had conquered this cancer.

Six months later the scans revealed that there were new cancer cells growing in his body. The decision was made to seek advise from Dr. Pavlos Msaouel, physician at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Not only did this young newly wed couple have to cope with the diagnosis of cancer, but for a couple of years they had to travel between New Jersey and Texas for Carlos to receive treatment.

In March of this year, Carlos was to receive his last treatment of the Phase 1 trial at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center. This happened to be during the rise of COVID-19 pandemic. While in Texas, Carlos had a stroke that affected his speech. He was taken to the emergency department by his wife and later admitted to the hospital. Carlos remained in the hospital a little over a week with his wife by his side. Due to the pandemic, Charissa was not allowed to leave the hospital and their family was not allowed to travel to Texas without being quarantined for 14 days since New Jersey was a hot spot for COVID-19. However, Ritchie Johnson, President/Founder of the Chris “CJ” Foundation, Inc. was given permission to be in the room with Carlos and Charissa during last seven hours of his life. She was able to calm Charissa down and face the fact that he had lived a beautiful life and was tired and very weak. Because of Ritchie, Charissa was able to cuddle with Carlos for the last time and watch the Avenger’s End Game. He passed away on April 28, 2020 as his wife laid in his arms.

Carlos will be missed. He is loved by all and a friend to many. He was kind and took the biggest pleasure in helping everyone he could. He loved to make everyone laugh. He enjoyed life, loved laughing, and being with family. Although he is physically not here, we can remember a strong, loving, comical man, who would do anything to make us smile. His spirit will forever live in our hearts.

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Matthew Pennington

Matthew went by many names. He was called Teo by his family and Penni by his friends. He was the second son of Marlene Costales

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Matthew went by many names. He was called Teo by his family and Penni by his friends. He was the second son of Marlene Costales Kravitz and E. Justin Pennington. He was born 24 Nov 1978 and died 19 Mar 2016. He was married to Marie Liu for a short 3 ½ years. Besides his wife and parents, he is survived by his step-father, brother, 3 sisters, spouses of his siblings, a grandmother, grandfather, many aunts, uncles, cousins and a large family of friends.

Matthew made an impression on everyone he met. During Matthew’s fight with cancer many of his friends told his family how he had changed their lives. He was absolutely passionate about music and pushed people to expand their boundaries and comfort levels in music. He was also a gifted writer. He saw a story in everything. His favorite book in the Bible was the Book of Job. He said it was such a great story. He would rearrange the figures in his grandmother’s Christmas crèche to tell a different story every time he saw it.

In August 2015, Matthew started having back pain and blood in his urine, but didn’t see a doctor for a month. Because RMC is rare and unknown to most of the medical community, he was not diagnosed until 29 Jan 2016 when he had his left kidney removed. He was referred to an oncologist who referred Matthew to Dr. Tannir at MD Anderson. Unfortunately, the cancer was too aggressive. He died 7 weeks 5 days after his diagnosis.

Matthew had the ability to see the marginalized and teach them to embrace, that which made them unique. Thence more than 350 people attended his funeral. He touched so many lives. He loved his wife with all of his being and she filled all his empty spaces. What I, his mother, loved most about him and miss the most is he ability to see the positive in things most people miss. He taught us all to look at things in a different way.

We, as his family, would want the medical community to know that RMC has many colored faces. It is a danger to anyone who is a sickle cell trait carrier. Be tested, be aware, don’t wait. We also pray that not another life is lost to this devastating cancer.

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Sandra Marie Prevost

Sandra Marie Prevost was born on February 29, 1968 to Joseph Earl Prevost and Della Marie Prevost, whom preceded her in death.

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Sandra Marie Prevost was born on February 29, 1968 to Joseph Earl Prevost and Della Marie Prevost, whom preceded her in death. Sandra was diagnosed with Renal Medullary Carcinoma in April of 2015 and was called to be with her heavenly father 11 months after diagnosis. She fought a courageous fight, always holding on to her faith in God. She exuded energy and thirst for life and a kind heart that reflected in both her words and actions.

Born and raised in Port Arthur, Texas, Sandra graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1986 and went on to obtain a Bachelors and Masters of Nursing Degree from Lamar University. Her dedication to service and sisterhood were evident in her love for and continued activeness with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Though her time here felt much too short, Sandra spent it by focusing on meeting the needs of those around her. At an early age, she knew helping others through their difficult times of illness and healing was her calling, so Sandra threw her talents into nursing others back to health. She gave of herself for many years, working with patients at St. Mary’s Hospital in Port Arthur, before continuing her work in Houston at Memorial Hermann Healthcare System. She furthered her cause by shifting her focus to patient safety while at Houston Methodist Hospital. She received her CPPS certification in Patient Safety and traveled internationally sharing her knowledge of statistical metrics to advance patient and workforce safety to prevent harm. Sandra gave her all to her family; often sacrificing her needs to be there for her parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. She was the glue that connected her family as a village unit. Sandra’s loving reach knew no bounds, and her absence will leave a void that none can fill.

She has left to honor her memory her two brothers, one sister-in-law, nieces, nephews, two great nieces, one great nephew, her fiancé and two great-aunts, along with a host of family, friends and loved ones.

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Chris Johnson

Chris S. Johnson was born in Houston Texas to Charles and Ritchie Johnson on November 18, 1972. Chris was diagnosed with RMC

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Chris S. Johnson was born in Houston Texas to Charles and Ritchie Johnson on November 18, 1972. Chris was diagnosed with RMC in June 2011 and loss his battle 15 months after diagnosis.  Chris received most of his care in Sugar Land at MD Anderson Cancer Center under the guidance of Drs. Tannir and Sarma.

While battling cancer, Chris had a difficult time being idle.  He developed CSJ Photography and began taking pictures and did several photo shoots.  He and his friends got together to develop a design to go on a baseball cap.  He used his initials “CJ”.  The “C” represented his arms and the “J” represented his body and intertwined the initials stood for “Standing Strong While Fighting With Faith”. The design is now the logo for the Chris “CJ” Johnson Foundation, Inc.

While working for Shell, Chris became an accomplished world traveler.  He visited Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Dubai, Cabo San Lucas , Amsterdam and other global destinations. He was always eager to learn as much as he could about the different cultures, ethnic foods, oil and gas, and the stock market.  As a result of his travels and ever-inquisitive mind, he had a wealth of knowledge.

He cherished his family and friends and was always the life of the party…he kept people laughing.  Chris had a special aura about him…his eyes and his smile was like a magnetic force that drew both children and adults to him.

Chris leaves to cherish his memories: one son, one daughter, one grandson, his mother, father, brother, sister-in-law, grandmother, grandfather, several aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and a host of friends.

His legacy continues to live through the Chris “CJ” Johnson Foundation, Inc.

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David Anderson

David W. Anderson was born in Newburgh, New York on December 29, 1973. David was diagnosed with RMC in June 2014.

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David W. Anderson was born in Newburgh, New York on December 29, 1973. David was diagnosed with RMC in June 2014.  David fought hard through this journey and never complained. He continued to run his land development company while continuing to spend time loving and enjoying his family and friends. David lived every moment to the fullest and loved life.  After a courageous fight, David passed September 16, 2015; just 15 months passed his diagnosis.

David and his family lived in Tyler Texas and would commute to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston Texas for his treatment.  He was a devoted husband, father, son, brother and friend, always putting the needs of others before him. David leaves to cherish his dedicated wife of 18 years, three sons, one daughter, his mother, father, two brothers and one sister.

 

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Holly Rae DeLeon Salisbury

Holly Rae DeLeon Salisbury, 31 was called by our heavens above on September 24, 2014 in Lago Vista. She was born on April 28, 1983 to James

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Holly Rae DeLeon Salisbury, 31 was called by our heavens above on September 24, 2014 in Lago Vista. She was born on April 28, 1983 to James and Jerri DeLeon of Buda; she was the youngest of three girls.  Her childhood was spent in Buda.  She attended Buda Elementary School and was a graduate of Hays High in 2001.  Throughout her childhood years she was involved in 4-H and Vo-Ag.  She was so special and touched the lives of many with her soft personality.  Holly was united with Jason Salisbury of Lago Vista on October 9, 2010.  With odds against her, she was able to give birth on April 20, 2012 to their son Liam Rocket Salisbury. In January of this year she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called renal medullary carcinoma.  Throughout her battle, she managed to touch and inspire many with her positive attitude.

She leaves behind her husband Jason and son Liam Rocket, parents, Joseph Deleon & Jerri L. Walker Deleon, sisters, numerous nieces and nephews and many friends.

 

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Brian Jimenez

Brian, 23 was the son of Raymond and Gina Mary Jimenez and the oldest of three siblings. He lived in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Brian fought

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Brian, 23 was the son of Raymond and Gina Mary Jimenez and the oldest of three siblings. He lived in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
Brian fought a hard battle against RMC, an extremely rare and aggressive cancer for two years. Prior to his diagnosis in January 2016 he was working and going to school. He had been healthy his entire life.

In early 2016, his right kidney and surrounding lymph nodes were removed. A few weeks later his physicians from CHOPS in Pennsylvania began chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Brian remained hopeful throughout his battle with cancer and was looking forward to returning to school and work. After about 4 months the cancer returned. Brian’s strength and determination to beat RMC is what kept his family strong. He was a true warrior in every sense of the word.

God saw that Brian was tired and weak and called him home. He transitioned to heaven on Thursday, January 11th with his family by his side.

Brian was an amazing son, brother, boyfriend, nephew, cousin and friend to many. In this time of sorrow, his family and friends are left to mourn his untimely passing. Heaven has gained another angel and hero.

Rest in peace Brian.

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Bardolph J. McConnell III

Bardolph J. McConnell III Bardolph “Bardy” J. McConnell III passed away November 14, 2019 in Portland. He was 48 years old.

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Bardolph “Bardy” J. McConnell III passed away November 14, 2019 in Portland. He was 48 years old. Bardy was born on February 22, 1977 to Bardolph J. McConnell Jr. and Mary Graham. Throughout his life he worked for various companies. If you knew Bardy, you knew that he had a huge heart and it showed through the love for his children. He relished his role as a father and made spending time with them a priority. In his spare time he enjoyed cooking, grilling for family and friends, and listening to old school music where he could show case his smooth steps. Bardy had a personality that mirrored his hear of gold. He had a wonderful sense of humor, but more importantly he had compassion for others in need and has been known to extend a helping hand.

On December 19, 2018, Bardy’s world was turned upside down. He received the devastating news that he had Renal Medullary Carcinoma (RMC). Bardy began experiencing back pain, but did not think it was anything to worry about. It wasn’t until he noticed blood in his urine that he went to the hospital to be examined. At that time he was told that he had a urinary tract infection and was given antibiotics to take, however, the symptoms of blood in his urine and back pain continued. Three weeks later, the CT Scan showed a tumor in his right kidney. The biopsy revealed that he had renal medullary carcinoma (RMC). Bardy fought hard and remained optimistic throughout his 11 month journey. He would cook, go fishing and spend time with his children until he became so weak that he could not walk and consequently passed away. Although it’s unfortunate; the love ones that he left behind understand that he’s no longer suffering and his pain is now at ease.

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Dawud "Dave" Potak-Gibbs

Dawud “Dave” L. Potak-Gibbs left this world on April 21, 2018 with his wife Laura and daughter Summer by his side at home.

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Dawud “Dave” L. Potak-Gibbs left this world on April 21, 2018 with his wife Laura and daughter Summer by his side at home. Dave bravely fought Renal Medullary Carcinoma (RMC) for two years and inspired many with his strength and optimism.

Born on February 7, 1983 in Philadelphia, Dave graduated from Germantown High School and most recently resided in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

As a chef, he worked for years in corporate dining for Compass Group, as well as in fine dining restaurants such as R2L and The Capital Grille. Most recently he was a stay at home dad, a cherished experience that was invaluable for Summer.

After meeting in 2006, Dave and Laura (a native of Pittsfield, MA) were inseparable and shared each other’s interests, such as Philly sports, camping, softball, cooking, and music. They were married on May 13, 2011.

Dave was loved by many and will be missed dearly. Aside from Laura and Summer, he leaves his mother Elizabeth Vann, mother-in-law Mary-Jane Sackett, stepfather-in-law Russell Sackett, and sisters Saadiqa Vann, Dannette Vann, Carmen Vann, Ametria Gibbs, and Renee Wigfall. He also leaves siblings-in-law Sarah Scarola, Karen Potak, David Potak and Catherine Potak, as well as their spouses. Dave also leaves many nieces and nephews, and many friends who were like family, as well as a cat Christine. He was predeceased by his father David Montgomery Gibbs.

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Rhianna Ferguson

Rhianna Ferguson was 26 when she died of a rare type of kidney cancer called renal medul – lary carcinoma – doctors removed her kidney to

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Rhianna Ferguson was 26 when she died of a rare type of kidney cancer called renal medullary carcinoma – doctors removed her kidney to try and beat the disease but it spread to her spine

Heart-breaking tributes have flooded in for a mother who died from cancer after a two-year battle.

Rhianna Ferguson was told she may have only months to live when diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer in October 2016.

The 26-year-old, who underwent surgery to remove a kidney in hope of helping her beat the disease, died in her sleep last week.

Ms Ferguson’s sister Renacia, from Greater Manchester, led the tributes, describing her as her ‘biggest inspiration’.

Renacia told the Manchester Evening News: ‘Rhianna was the most thoughtful diva in the world, she knew how to get her own way but she always helped anyone.

‘Rhianna would always pay, she was always giving, but she was always putting a smile on someone’s face.

‘Whether it was laughing with her or at her she would be making someone laugh. She was just one in a million.

‘Everything she was will live on through her daughter, the Rhianna part two. She will be everything Rhianna was and more and continue to make her mum proud.’

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Rahsohn Wali, Jr.

Rahsohn Wali, Jr., 11, of Hamden, Connecticut passed away April 27, 2017 in the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio after a courageous battle

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Rahsohn Wali, Jr., 11, of Hamden Connecticut passed away April 27, 2017 in the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio after a courageous battle with RMC. Sohnny (as he was affectionately called) was termed “One in a million” by his 4th grade teacher. He always challenged himself to accomplish more difficult math than anyone in his class. He also took time to help the younger children learn how to read. His loving nature was even more evident in his interactions with his three year old sister. Sohnny loved to play basketball, baseball and cook.

Sohnny is the beloved son of Aiyana Parkinson of Hamden and Rahshon R, Wali Sr. of Meriden.

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Jesse Johnson

Jesse was in and out of the emergency room for approximately two months due to pain and blood in his urine. A CT Scan was done in March 2017

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Jesse was in and out of the emergency room for approximately two months due to pain and blood in his urine. A CT Scan was done in March 2017, which revealed a mass on his kidney due to an infection. He was discharged home with antibiotics. In April, he presented to the emergency room again with pain and blood in his urine.  This time an ultrasound was done and he was admitted into the hospital so that the doctor could treat the infection.  Jesse received antibiotics intravenously and by the 4th day, he was discharged home with a prescription for more antibiotics. Two weeks passed before he was seen by the physician. For two months Jesse was treated with antibiotics for an infection.

On May 5th, the bone scan revealed a spot in his pelvic area. The first biopsy report showed that Jesse had an infection.

At this time his mother, April decided that she needed to get another physician and go to a different hospital. On May 18th, a second biopsy was done. On May 27th, the doctor confirmed that Jesse did have RMC. By this time the cancer had metastasized to his bones and liver.  He had one round of chemotherapy. Jesse became very sick from the chemotherapy which prevented him from having any quality time with his young daughter.

Jesse was later placed under hospice care and transitioned to Heaven on September 8, 2017 at the young age of 20. Just a little over three months passed his diagnosis.

Most patients diagnosed with RMC have the sickle cell trait.  Jesse did not have the sickle cell trait. He had what we call renal cell carcinoma unclassified with medullary phenotype (RCCU-MP), a rare RMC variant that occurs in people without sickle cell trait or disease. Dr. Msaouel estimates that ~5% of all RMCs are RCCU-MPs. As far as we know, this variant behaves in the exact same way as RMC. Patients with this variant are eligible for all our RMC clinical trials. Medical providers should be aware that RMC can affect patients of all races and not just those of African descent.

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Jerrod Paul Rogers

Jerrod Paul Rogers was born on May 21, 1991 in Hutchinson, Kansas. He had a difficult childhood and was placed in foster care at the age of 7

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Jerrod Paul Rogers was born on May 21, 1991 in Hutchinson , Kansas. He had a difficult childhood and was placed in foster care at the age of 7. Jerrod and his sister lived in several foster homes before meeting their forever family and being adopted in 2006. In late February 2016, Jerrod was diagnosed with a cancer that proved difficult to identify after a biopsy on a swollen lymph node. Despite undergoing chemotherapy, the cancer continued to spread. Following a second biopsy, Jerrod was diagnosed with renal medullary carcinoma on June 6. Two days later Jerrod entered the hospital for his final battle. After expressing the wish to go home, Jerrod returned to his parents’ farm and spent his final hours surrounded by family and friends. He died on June 16, 2016 at the age of 25 less than four months after the initial diagnosis.

Jerrod enjoyed a variety of activities as a teenager taking part in athletics, choir, and a vocal ensemble in high school. After graduation, Jerrod spread his wings and lived many adventures -traveling to different states and trying new things. He experienced life in Minnesota, Georgia, and returned to Kansas to live in Manhattan, Wichita, and then attend Butler Community College for a year. In 2014 his journeys took him to Denver, Co. There he met Jen Miller who he married on May 28, 2015. He loved to talk about “my wife” and truly loved her with all his heart. In October, 2015 Jerrod and Jen moved back to his hometown of Hillsboro, KS.

Jerrod’s passions in life included music and weight lifting. He enjoyed many kinds of music and would sing Jen their special song when he would take her to work. He dreamed of having a career in music someday. He also enjoyed playing video games and always found fishing a relaxing sport.

Jerrod is survived and remembered by his wife, parents, brothers, sisters, nephew and many extended family members and friends.

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Aniksha Patel

Aniksha Patel, 24, of Manchester, England passed away on December 1, 2016 after a hard fought battle against Renal Medullary

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Aniksha Patel, 24, of Manchester, England passed away on December 1, 2016 after a hard fought battle against Renal Medullary Carcinoma (RMC). Aniksha’s journey touched the hearts of so many. In March 2013 she was diagnosed.  She went through many chemotherapy treatments and surgeries.  In February 2014 she wrote this:  “I think that more people need to be aware of how suddenly cancer can come out of no where and I urge anybody who feels like something may not be right with their body to get it checked out.  My diagnosis started with a bit of back pain and an infection and within weeks my life was turned upside down.  It’s been a roller coaster ride, but with perseverance and positivity I’ve managed to cope better than I ever thought I could.  If cancer has done one good thing, it’s made me appreciate just how precious life is.”  Our deepest sympathies are with her parents, brothers and many loved ones and friends during this difficult time.

 

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Conroy Gearpaul Smith

Conroy Gearpaul Smith was born in Jamaica to Roma Crockwell and Anthony Smith. He was the eldest of three siblings. At the age of 5,

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Conroy Gearpaul Smith was born in Jamaica to Roma Crockwell and Anthony Smith. He was the eldest of three siblings.  At the age of 5, Conroy and his family moved to Bermuda and in 2012 Conroy and his mother moved to Nottingham England to be near his sister Shaunelle. Conroy was diagnosed with Renal Medullary Carcinoma in December 2015 and on August 4, 2016 at the young age of 39, he passed away in England.

Conroy was a passionate musician and a loving brother.  He was better known to many as DJ Spyro and for his breakthrough hit, Cutesy Cutesy that was shot in Bermuda. Right until the end, Conroy would talk about his fans back in Bermuda, and he was desperate to go back to the island to perform one more time. He had tried making inroads into the local music scene when he was diagnosed with cancer at the end of 2015.

Conroy leaves to cherish his memories; his two sisters, nephews, nieces, stepfather and numerous other relatives.

To view Conroy’s video click on the link.

https://youtu.be/VTT3lnQvmog

 

 

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