. . . . . . kids helping kids with cancer . . . . . .
Team Summer is an organization started by a teenage cancer patient to help other kids just like her cope with the difficulties of having the disease.
Right after 15-year-old Summer Dale was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer, family friends ordered a batch of purple bracelets with “Team Summer” on them. The idea was to sell the bracelets for $5 each, with half the money raised going toward Summer’s medical bills, and the other half going into a pool of money to be donated any place of Summer’s choosing.
What happened next surprised everyone. Rather than donate the money to cancer research or to a children’s hospital, Summer had her own idea about what to do with the money. She wanted to use it to directly help other kids with cancer, to let them know they were in this together.
So Summer started talking to other kids she met in hospital waiting rooms to find out what she could do to make their journey a little easier. She met Sarah, an 11-year-old girl facing her second bout with cancer. She learned that Sarah had to drive two hours each way for her chemotherapy treatments, with nothing to do during the long trips. Using Team Summer funds, Summer bought Sarah an iPod Touch so she could play her favorite game, Angry Birds, in the car. Sarah’s mom was moved to tears and said, “I just didn’t know people could be so nice.”
When people found out what Summer was doing, they bought more bracelets, and Summer gave out more gifts, including one to a 20-year-old girl named Lacey, who had recently been diagnosed with bone cancer. She had been a dancer and part-time model. Not being able to dance anymore was hard enough, but losing her hair to chemotherapy was devastating to Lacey. Her self-esteem had plummeted. She would not let anyone take a picture of her bald because she thought she looked like a boy. Summer used Team Summer funds to pay for a photo session, complete with a professional photographer and wardrobe & makeup artist. Lacey loved every minute of it! She said, “I didn’t feel like a cancer patient that day!” Even she agreed she didn’t look like a boy!
Then came the next step for Team Summer. After Summer gave a gift to Josiah, a little boy diagnosed with a cancer of the nerve tissue, Josiah’s uncle told Summer he was so grateful that he wanted to sell Team Summer bracelets, too. That gave Team Summer an idea. Why not branch out, give other families the same opportunity that Summer’s family had been given? So Summer ordered the first batch of Team Josiah bracelets with the Team Summer logo stamped on the back. Next were Team Lacey bracelets.
Now those families are selling bracelets, too – with half the money helping them with medical bills and the other half coming back to Team Summer to help other kids with cancer. And those kids are now on the lookout for other kids with cancer they can help.
A nurse treating cancer patients every day said, “This is such a great idea. I wonder why no one has ever thought of it before!”
What Team Summer has figured out is that kids are in a unique position to help each other. The friendships created sustain them through their journey and help tackle two of the biggest challenges kids with cancer face – isolation and fear.