Even though my blog is called Teach 'n' Life I haven't spent a lot of time talking about life. With a very important weekend coming up, I thought I'd take a minute to talk about something very, very important to me.
I have to say that I am not a survivor of childhood cancer, and none of my students have ever suffered from any of these awful diseases. But the fight against childhood cancer is a fight that is near and dear to my heart. When I was in college I was a member of the national service sorority, Gamma Sigma Sigma. After graduation I was looking for a way to continue volunteering, and one day while perusing the Internet I came across an ACS camp called Camp Can Do. Camp Can Do is a pediatric oncology camp for kids ages 7 - 17 who are currently going through treatment or have been off treatment less that 5 years. While I didn't get to volunteer the first few summers after I discovered camp I was finally able to spend a week at camp in the summer of 2003.
It changed my life.
"It must be terribly sad," they say. "I don't know how you do it." It is terribly sad. Every time we lose a camper, my heart breaks in two. These kids have every reason to be angry, to be bitter, and to expect everybody to do things for them or give them things. They have had to say goodbye to friends who have died and they've had to undergo treatments that would bring the biggest, strongest men to their knees. But despite all of these experiences, the lessons these kids teach me more than make up for the sadness and heartache that comes with the loss and the illness. These amazing kids exude hope, compassion, love and understanding. They want nothing more to give back to those who have helped them and their families. People often ask how I can possibly spend a week away from home with these kids. My question in return is, "How do I NOT go to camp?" My week at camp fills my heart and soul and opens my eyes for the year to come. Talk about filling up my cup!! It definitely runs over.
So why am I telling you about this now? In 11 days I will be traveling to State College, PA to Penn State University to witness my first THON. A post explaining what THON is would take another three hours to write, so I invite you to visit THON's website here , visit their YouTube channel or watch the promo for the upcoming weekend below. The amazing thing about THON is that unlike St. Jude's, where kids only benefit from the free treatments if there is a research study into which their diagnosis fits, the Four Diamonds Fund provides financial support to every single child going through treatment at the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. It also funds continued support for research being conducted at the same facility.
As you read about THON and watch the videos you have to understand that this is completely student run, and since it's humble beginnings THON has raised over $68 million for the Four Diamonds Fund. I'm certainly not asking that everybody make a donation to THON, although that would be awesome, I'm just asking that everybody take a minute to think about the amazing kids all around us who have fought this terrible disease (there's pink everywhere - but where's the gold?) and to think about all of the amazing young people who give their time and talents to make THON happen.