Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"I Can't Wait To Meet Other Kids Like Me"

"I can't wait to meet other kids like me" - Rachel, 7 year old cancer hater

I suppose if you have been keeping up with my blog, you may not wonder why I support LIVESTRONG....I am not a cancer survivor....and unfortunately, all my loved ones were not survivors and never utilized not use the services of LIVESTRONG.

There are a lot of being to raise awareness since we were unaware of the resources available to us to assist in my loved ones' fights.

My involvement started several years ago as a method to honor the memory of my husband, dad, mom and sister.  Primarily as an effort for my children and I to heal from the passing of Brian.

As my children have grown, I continue to see firsthand how cancer has impacted their lives....and our lives as a family.  Over time, my involvement has become more focused on making sure others are aware of LIVESTRONG in order to hopefully allow their children to have a lifetime of memories with both their parents.

LIVESTRONG is best know for providing support for those battling cancer and survivors.  Most assume survivors are those that survived cancer.....but there is a large group of survivors out there that never had cancer but provided support and love for those that fought gallantly - both  successfully and unsuccessfully.  The thousands of children being raised in a single parent household due to cancer stealing one of their parents....or those living with the daily struggles of watching a parent suffer with cancer.

My children fall into this category.  I am lucky....I have great kids although there are times I wonder who has raised them due to their decisions or the outlook they have on certain issues.  But, I put my faith in all those that surround me that someday my children will recognize that I did the best I could with what I had available to give given our circumstances.  Still, I feel like they are being short-changed.

One aspect I hate that I cannot change for my children is the feeling that they are different.  I get this....I was them when I was growing up.  My mother passed away from cancer when I was young....but back then it was a taboo topic....and LIVESTRONG was no where in sight.

I made a pledge last November to run one race a month this year to raise funds and awareness for LIVESTRONG.  Unfortunately, I had to break this plan in June....I had a race scheduled but something much more important popped up on the day of the race.  I took a chance that you would all understand.

I had to deliver a very special cancer hater to camp.  This was no ordinary camp.....

My 7 year old daughter had the experience of her lifetime last month attending Camp Kesem at Northwestern University - a program which is recipient of grants from LIVESTRONG.  This is a camp for children that have or had a parent with cancer.  Some of the parents are survivors and others are currently in the battle, while others - like Rachel - have lost a parent.  The common thread....they all understood what cancer is, how it impacts families, and all feel different than most kids their age.

Camp Kesem is offered through different universities across the country and attendance is free of charge to the campers.  This is provided at no cost due to countless fundraising activities and grants from organizations like LIVESTRONG.   

Rachel came home a different girl.  She has always had a lot of confidence but it seemed tripled when I picked her up a week later.  A month later she is still talking about the friendships, the counselors, and the activities.  At least once a week she states how much she misses Camp Kesem.

LIVESTRONG is providing several $10,000 grants to other universities across the country to start up additional Camp Kesem locations.  With all your support over the past three years, I have raised close to $30,000 - the equivalent of 3 camps....and hundreds upon hundreds of smiles, memories and most importantly, reminders to these children that they are not different....they are not alone....they are important and have a world of opportunity ahead of them.

Your donations go towards providing these opportunities!  Over 80 cents of every dollar donated is put back into programs to help cancer survivors - including that crazy red headed child of mine.  Let's work together to provide the same opportunity for other children. 

This is why I support LIVESTRONG....why I run mile after mile.....why I am so passionate about the mission.

I will keep RunningSTRONG for Hope this year to raise funds for LIVESTRONG.  Please help me by considering a donation to LIVESTRONG - no amount is too small or too large - to assist me in my efforts to provide support to all survivors.
Barbara's LIVESTRONG fundraising page 

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