Published: Apr 19, 2014 10:31 AM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Strides for Stella was organized by 20 Florida Gulf Coast University students that are taking a course called Foundations of Civic Engagement.  The final Civic Engagement project gives students an opportunity to identify an issue in the community, research the issue and propose the issue to the professor.  They must complete the project, evaluate its success, and write a reflective essay before the term ends.

The race benefits the Frattarelli family and Stella Frattarelli, a 2-year old girl who has Stage 4 granular cell neuroblastoma. The goal of this event is raise money to help the family with their medical expenses, gas, food, child care, deductibles, and medication.

Stella’s parents both work in Bonita Springs. Her father, Mike, is Assistant Pro at Spring Run Golf Club, and her mother, Rachel, is a preschool teacher at Living Waters Academy. Stella has an older brother and an older sister at Pinewoods Elementary.

“I’ve never said why me or why us?” Rachel said, “I feel like God chose us because he knows we are strong enough to fight this.”

Stella’s cancer developed in her abdomen almost a year ago and she has had countless surgeries and chemotherapy during the past 12 months.