Va. teen with cancer plans foodie roadtrip to all 50 states

FAIRFAX, VA (WUSA9) - If variety is the spice of life, one 17-year-old boy has narrowed down about 50 places to find it. 

Ali Allouche is the oldest of six kids. Perhaps the only thing better than his attitude is his appetite.

"Are you making the gumbo?" he asked his mom, Jennifer Danko, when WUSA9 visited the family in Fairfax.

"Being with other people and like and eating food is just like that is what speaks to me," Ali said. 

Luckily, his mom loves to cook.

"I've always cooked and with having such a big family we can't afford to go out and eat at a restaurant," she said. 

In their house, family dinners are common, even though Ali has been missing them lately.

Ali is battling cancer. It's the second time.

"I kind of think of it as like you know, if anyone is going to have cancer it should be me because I can tough it out better than the next kid who would have gotten cancer," he said. 

At four years old, Ali was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and remained cancer free for 12 years.

"I just thought we beat that and that is totally behind us," Ali's mom Jennifer said. 

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But this past summer, just before his junior year of high school, Ali was diagnosed with cancer in his shoulder.

"And then here it was again. I was just devastated," Jennifer said. "Really, really devastated."

Ali has already finished seven rounds of chemotherapy.    

"It feels long and the chemo rounds some of them can be really hard on my body," he said. 

To get through those grueling hospital visits, Jennifer and Ali have come up with a plan to beat cancer – emphasis on the "eat."

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"We'd spend all of our time online looking at the restaurants, looking at reviews, the food, the menu," Jennifer said. 

They're taking his affinity for food coast to coast. They've drawn up a map with a restaurant to hit in every state.

"He likes to pick the fanciest, so the majority of them are these multi-course kind of dress up places," Jennifer said. 

 Ali was inspired by Anthony Bourdain. The chef and writer heard Ali’s story, and donated $3,600 toward his trip and invited him to dinner in New York City. 

"I'm just overwhelmed by it all," Ali said. 

In the D.C. area, he's already visited the Inn at Little Washington and Barrel & Bushel. 

"The waiter explains why this dish is in front of me, what the chef wanted from this dish," Ali said. "Then he explains what it does whenever it goes in my mouth what happens to my palate. That whole experience is the best thing."

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Ali has five more rounds of chemotherapy left. Stuck in the hospital, the map is the motivator.

"It's really like all the chemo leads up to these and then I go to this restaurant and then it's like I'm just working my way up to get another meal,"' Ali said.

Even cancer can’t sour Ali's spirit.

The family has set up a GoFundMe page, if you'd like to donate. 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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