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Haley Pilar Vana

On Monday, November 16, Haley Pilar Vana, a kind-hearted and courageous daughter and sister, passed away at age 22.

Haley was born on October 9, 1998 in South Lake Tahoe, California to her parents Ron and Lin. A lifelong resident of Minden, she attended Douglas High School and graduated in the Class of 2016. Haley received her degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Nevada in May 2020 and was a lifetime member of the Nevada Alumni Association.

Haley’s passion and self-described purpose in life was “to give people hope.” As a childhood cancer survivor, Haley recognized the special gift she had and her ability to inspire others through her story – which she was always eager to share with friends and strangers alike, if they had a few minutes to spare. In fact, the old adage, “She never met a stranger” could not have been more true in Haley’s case. In early 2019, Haley and her family were devastated to learn that her early childhood brain tumor had inexplicably started growing again. Throughout her second journey with cancer, Haley maintained her optimism, courage, and strength. Defiant in her positivity, she never accepted that she might not beat her diagnosis. By her example, countless friends and family members have shared the inspiration she gave them: how they felt brave enough to conquer a fear, tough enough to try something that seemed insurmountable, and faithful enough to believe that everything would work out in the end. Although her life was cut tragically short, there is no question that Haley accomplished her biggest goal.

Haley was known for her sweet and loving nature, with just the right amount of sass. Her kindness was immeasurable. She was an avid collector, everything from keychains to Beanie Boo stuffed animals to all things Disney. She enjoyed being able to share her creativity through coloring and craft projects, and her sharpness of mind through puzzles and card games. She spent her spare time working with children and volunteering locally. Haley loved visiting her favorite places, Disneyland and Texas, but above all, Haley cherished her family. Her love and joy for them was apparent, as she talked about them whenever she could. Her proudest roles in life were that of being a loving daughter, sister, aunt, godmother, granddaughter, cousin, and niece.

Haley’s favorite quote was, “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten” from the Disney film Lilo & Stitch. Haley, you will never be forgotten.

Haley is survived by her parents and step-parents, Lin and Mike Falkner, Ron Vana and Cheryl Pratt; her siblings Kiki (Jesse) Laca, Heston Vana, and Colin Falkner; her nephew, Radley Laca; her goddaughter, Vivien Havel, and her grandmother, Irma Vana; along with many beloved cousins, aunts, and uncles.

A celebration of life will be held at St. Gall Catholic Church, by invitation only due to COVID restrictions.  A larger event will occur in the summer of 2021 for all who wish to celebrate Haley’s life. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation of any amount to the Haley P. Vana Follow Your Heart Scholarship. Additional details and a link to donate can be found at: https://secure.touchnet.com/C22384_ustores/web/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCTID=1410&SINGLESTORE=true

Donations can also be mailed to 1111 Cedar Crest Dr Minden, NV 89423

Checks should be made out to “University of Nevada, Reno Foundation”, with “Fund 450039” or “Haley Vana Scholarship” in the memo line.