DUBLIN -- The Malones' bags were packed for Disneyland in April when they realized 12-year-old Nicole's leg, which had been hurting recently, was swollen.
Instead of heading on their trip, the Dublin residents headed to the emergency room where they discovered Nicole has malignant bone cancer. This is the second bout of cancer for the Wells Middle School student, who battled lymphoma five years ago.
The diagnosis broke everybody's heart, said family friend Kagan Wilkinson. So the Dublin Green Gator Swim Team assistant coach set out to organize a fundraiser to help cover the family's bills.
"We thought doing a swim-a-thon could get the community involved and pool support for her in a different, kind of unique, way," he said.
Laps of Love for Nicole will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Dublin Swim Center. Wilkinson said even those who don't plan to swim are encouraged to attend to help Nicole and keep her spirits up.
Local companies, Tri-Valley Swim League members and even public leaders are involved in the effort. Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty is promoting the event through his office and Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti is scheduled to swim laps for the cause.
The swim-a-thon is one of many ways the tight-knit Dublin community has reached out to the Malones: Dublin High School held a baseball double-header in May, several families have left food for the family in an ice chest on the porch while Nicole is
"It's very humbling," said Janet Malone, Nicole's mother. "We're not traveling this journey alone."
One family even donated their Maui timeshare and airfare so the Malones can take a vacation in September once Nicole finishes the nearly 40 rounds of chemotherapy prescribed.
A fan of Justin Bieber, a soccer player and Girl Scout, Nicole is being treated at Children's Hospital in Oakland and with daily care at home by her family.
"She's a great girl," Nicole's father, Tim Malone said. "She's tough."
Doctors at other hospitals, including UCLA, Children's Hospital of Los Angeles and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital have also reviewed her case, coming to the consensus that Nicole is not a candidate for surgery to remove the osteocarcomas in her bones.
"They all agreed what we're doing is the right thing," Janet Malone said.
Meanwhile, the family is trying to keep busy to help Nicole -- who Janet Malone describes as sociable, funny and friendly -- through the treatments.
They eventually even made it to Disneyland.
People who wish to donate may send checks made out to "Care of Nicole Malone" Account No. 999090095 at Safe America Credit Union, 6001 Gibraltar Dr., Pleasanton, CA 94588.