Remembering Olivia Parker, “A Positive Ray of Sunshine”

Remembering Olivia Parker
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Olivia Parker loved Paris. So much so, that back in July 2020, her neighborhood surprised her with a “Night in Paris” as she was going through her fourth treatment for brain cancer.

Neighborhood Support

Olivia was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma in 2018 when she was just 10 years old. Family and friends rallied around her with support throughout her illness. The Night in Paris was a particularly grand effort, with Parisian lights and homemade French-inspired storefronts lining the streets. Olivia was delighted with the surprise, and all the fun.

“Olivia was an energetic girl who loved a good joke. Her smile and her energy and her positivity really just lit up a room no matter where you were,” said Suzanne Flynn, a neighbor of the Parkers.

Olivia was chauffeured through the Parisian display on a horse-drawn carriage, and enjoyed a fireworks show to cap off the night. It was a tribute to make up for a planned trip she and her family had planned for Paris, which was canceled due to the pandemic.

“Through her entire three plus year battle, her positivity and energy was really what got her through,” said Flynn.

Touched The Community

Olivia’s story touched the greater community as well. In July 2021, the Charity Build Project selected her family’s home for an upgrade, remodeling Olivia’s bedroom, along with the family room and living room. A $10,000 grant from Home Depot enabled the crew to come back this January to redo their kitchen.

“It wasn’t for any other reason than just to try and help brighten their day just a little bit, make them smile, give them a beautiful place to relax and feel some peace during such a hard time that they had,” said Lauren Burke, who was the home DIYer behind the transformation.

Shows of support like these not only boosted Olivia’s spirits, they also helped bring awareness to a fact she learned along her journey: that only four percent of federal funds for cancer research goes toward treating childhood cancer.

Olivia’s Memory

Olivia died Thursday, February 24 at the age of 13.  Her family noted in her obituary, “Olivia’s smile, love of jokes and amazing attitude were the hallmarks of her way-too-short life.” Her spirit and strength throughout her battle have left a lasting impression on those who knew her.

“I can’t even explain what it meant to be with her in a room. It felt just so uplifting, she was such a positive ray of sunshine,” said Burke

A memorial visitation for Olivia will be held March 1 from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Compass Church – Naperville Campus, at 1551 E. Hobson Road. The service will be held March 2 at 1 p.m. at that same location. Interment will be private.

Olivia’s family is encouraging memorials in her name be made to Cal’s Angels, a pediatric cancer foundation.

Naperville News 17’s Kim Pirc and Aysha Ashley Househ report.