2016 has quickly come and gone. Yet, when thinking back about the past year we cannot help but have an overwhelming amount of emotion and memories. We are still amazed by all of the support we received, the joy the community shared, and love that was given to families across South Carolina facing pediatric cancer.
In a year made up of 365 days, it is the seconds that change you. Those quick moments that instantly matter, and tell you that you're on the right path.
The mission of Children's Chance is to help families face pediatric cancer, but the root goal is to give a family an experience or memory that can take away the thought of them going through the reality of childhood cancer.
This year we had a few moments that no one could see coming. Vince Gill held 4 year old Catherine Ray, also known as C-Ray, moments before his concert began. They both giggled and it was an adorable sight to see. We also got to watch a smile dance across Austin's face as she received a motorized wheelchair that someone generously donated. Austin, 12 years old, gained back her mobility that an aggressive form of cancer had taken away. Her smile told us everything, including how much she enjoyed the fastest speed setting. Lastly, this past fall, we walked two brothers onto the football field at Williams Brice Stadium. It was just 9 days after their brother Joe had passed of testicular cancer. Joe was only 17, but after we spent the day with Tyler and Ryan, Joe's brothers, we knew his spirit would be carried on by these two amazing gentlemen for the rest of their lives. These are just a few of the moments that we tuck into the pocket on our heart. They are memories that we treasure and times we will never forget.
One thing we know and too often see, is cancer does not affect just the child diagnosed, but the entire family. This past year we heard and saw our families situations, struggles, and joyful moments as they walk the road of pediatric cancer. Some roads are short, paved and come with a map, and some are on an off beaten path with little to no map at all. Yet, while spending time with these families you quickly learn a few things. One: they are never giving up! Families facing childhood cancer are relentless at trying to do everything they can for their child. Two: they are the strongest people you will ever meet, their will power will knock your socks off. Three, they didn't choose for their family to get cancer. That is why it is so very important for us- friends, family, communities, non-profits, everyone- to rally behind these families. Everyday is a battle for them, one that some of us cannot relate. However, LOVE is a universal feeling that everyone can share.
This past holiday season was one of the most heartwarming and humbling times of 2016. Children's Chance adopted close to 28 family members for the holidays and were able to purchase more than 85 gifts. We traveled the state to hand deliver gifts to our families and yes, we felt like Santa Clause. One loving family invited us to stay while they opened their gifts. When driving back to Columbia, we reflected on what an experience we gave them and how those few minutes of tearing paper with excitement let the thought of childhood cancer vanish from their minds, even if it was brief.
Now, 2017 is settling in and giving us another year to promote pediatric cancer and raise support for families going through the emotional and financial change in their lives. On our to do list for 2017, we have ideas of how to bring families together, create an outlet for expression, and kick up some dust to raise awareness. As always, we are so very thankful for our supporters and hope to see you this year as we rally the troops and kick some butt for pediatric cancer!
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I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!