Olivia Gets Her Wish! | Team Summer

Up until July of 2014, Olivia’s life was pretty normal. The 10-year-old loved to play outside and swim in the neighborhood pool with her friends.

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Then she discovered a mysterious lump under her right arm. Doctors removed it surgically, and tests showed it was cancer. After that, everything got crazy. Olivia had to drop out of the 5th grade and start treatment right away. She was in the hospital getting chemo every two weeks and trying to recover in between. All this was tough on a girl who was used to being in the middle of every activity, running and jumping all the way. Her mom says Olivia went from bubbly to…well…quiet.

But by the next summer, her treatment was finally over, and Olivia was cancer free. Life was almost back to normal. She started the 6th grade right on schedule, thanks to some awesome home-schooling.

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But then, a few months later, this past November, while on a youth field trip, she suddenly became nauseated and developed a strange rash.  Within a day, she was in the pediatric intensive care unit, on a ventilator, where she stayed for a whole month in critical condition. The diagnosis: therapy-related leukemia. That’s right – the very treatments that had saved her life a year ago were now the cause of her new disease.

As soon as she was strong enough, she started chemo…all over again. The bubbly girl went quiet again.

One day, there was a knock on her hospital door. It was a little girl from across the hall – our very own Team Summer kid Maylee! Even though there was a big difference in their ages, the girls had a lot in common. Not many kids know what it’s like to get chemo and be trapped in a hospital for weeks on end. What Olivia didn’t know is that they were about to have something else in common. Maylee was going to make Olivia a Team Summer kid! We started helping Maylee figure out what would make her new friend happy, and planned the surprise.

On the big day, Maylee brought her friend down to the lobby of the hospital, and Maylee’s mom read Olivia the Team Summer welcome letter.

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Olivia slowly started getting the idea that something special was about to happen. Then, Maylee handed her the Team Summer gift.

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Olivia’s mask is hiding her big smile, but you can still see the surprise in her eyes! It’s what she wanted most, what she had been begging for, in fact! Her very own iPhone!

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It’s kind of the last thing she expected from her little friend. But, hey, Maylee is a Team Summer kid, so anything is possible!

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Olivia’s mom tells us that the iPhone has been an amazing distraction for Olivia as she continues her treatments and long hospital stays. “She’s on it 98% of the time!” her mom says. Olivia even stayed glued to her phone during her recent bone marrow transplant.

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It’s funny how something as simple as a smart phone can make you feel like a normal kid again.

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And now that Olivia is a Team Summer kid, it’s her turn to find a kid with cancer she can help – maybe someone who is having an even rougher time than she is, someone she can cheer up with a special gift. We’re ready, Olivia! Just let us know!

Posted in May 2016 | 1 Comment


One Response to “Olivia Gets Her Wish! | Team Summer”
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  1. carla johnson

    This is beyond cool. Love to hear more about your group and the way they help and encourage these sweet kids.


Alyssia Goes to the Prom…Sort of! |Team Summer

More than anything, high-school senior Alyssia wanted to go to her prom. And she knew just the dress she wanted to wear – a gorgeous, long, white-and-gold designer dress by Tarik Ediz. She had been staring at it through a computer screen for more than a year, trying to save up for it. And if you know anything about the cost of a designer gown…well, let’s just say most brides come down the aisle in something less expensive.

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As her fierce battle with leukemia raged right up to the week before the prom, her dream was about as far away as it could be. No dress, no dance, stuck in the hospital. That’s when Team Summer kid Maylee stepped in. Even though the four-year old didn’t really understand exactly what a prom was, she knew she wanted to cheer up her hospital buddy.

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So Team Summer went to work. It was all a little crazy, given Alyssia’s situation, but when a girl dreams of a prom dress…well, we just had to find it. And thus began a nation-wide search for the right dress in the right size.  After a bunch of calls, we found it…in New York City!

Now it was time to surprise Alyssia! By this time, pretty much the entire hospital staff had heard about the dress and showed up to watch.

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Draped in a purple blanket (Summer’s favorite color!), Alyssia thought she was being escorted to her gazillionth x-ray. When she turned the corner, she had no idea why so many people were waiting for her!

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Maylee’s mom helped explain that she was about to get a Team Summer gift!

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Then, with Maylee’s help, out came the dress…rolling in on an IV pole, of course! Alyssia could not believe her eyes. It was the dress of her dreams! The EXACT dress! Stunned, she turned to her mom and asked incredulously,  “Is that THE dress?” Blinking back tears, her mom nodded yes. 

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Now there was just one teensy little thing to work out – actually going to the prom. With the prom now only two days away, it became clear that it was just too dangerous to Alyssia’s health to leave the hospital. But that did not deter the amazing staff at Children’s Health Care of Atlanta. Here’s what they did on the big day:

First, they brought in makeup artists from Spa Sydell….because every girl deserves to be pampered on her prom day!

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Isn’t Alyssia starting to look a little different from the girl wrapped up in the purple blanket?!

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Then CHOA arranged for a DJ from morning radio program The Bert Show to set up shop in a classroom on the first floor of the hospital. He lowered the lights and added a disco ball for atmosphere. And Maggiano’s catered Italian food and the Taylor Brooks Foundation supplied the decorations!

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And here she is! Alyssia’s dad got the first dance! Okay, so THAT doesn’t usually happen at the prom!

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Then Alyssia’s wonderful friends started arriving, stopping by on their way to the actual prom, and things got festive! The music was loud, the food was awesome, and Alyssia was surrounded by people who love her.

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No, it wasn’t the real prom, but thanks to Team Summer kid Maylee, who started all this with a desire to help, and the incredible staff at CHOA, what could have been one of the saddest nights of Alyssia’s life turned out to be positively joyful! And that’s what Team Summer is all about…kids helping kids with cancer… one special moment at a time.

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All Team Summer gifts are funded through donations to our organization. Can you help? Click here!


Posted in April 2016 | Leave a comment


Jumping for Grant! | Team Summer

Four-year-old Grant is what you call a real trooper! For almost two years, he’s been poked and prodded by more doctors and nurses than his parents care to count. He’s been battling neuroblastoma ever since a softball-size tumor was found on his adrenal gland back in June 2014.

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Team Summer kid Aliyah met Grant in the hospital. Well, she didn’t exactly meet him. She heard him….crying in the room next to hers. And after she got her Team Summer gift and found out that it was her turn to give a gift, she thought about that little boy from the room next door and found out who he was. Her big heart led her here, on a bench, reading the Team Summer welcome letter to little Grant.

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This is what happens when you are a Team Summer kid. Even though you are engaged in your own battle with cancer (osteosarcoma took Aliyah’s left leg), you get to reach out and make another kid’s life better.

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Now it was time to give Grant his Team Summer gift! But rather than lead Grant right to it, we decided to have a little fun first! A scavenger hunt! Luckily, Grant has lots of brothers and sisters, and they helped!

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The clues led Grant all over…to “a place that gongs!”; to “a place where horses sleep!”

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Grant followed each clue to the next…

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…until finally the last clue told him where his gift was! He led the way… with his siblings close behind!

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And then, he saw it, way in the back of his yard!

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A trampoline!!!

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Just perfect for jumping! And big enough for everybody!

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And all this happened because Aliyah heard a small boy’s cry; and, as a kid with cancer herself, she understood his pain and wanted to help. Way to go, Aliyah! That’s just what Team Summer kids do!!

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And now that Grant is a Team Summer kid – guess what? He already has two kids he wants to give Team Summer gifts to! So just watch out! Grant is on the case!

All our gifts are funded through donations from generous people like you! Please click here to help a kid with cancer help another kid with cancer!

(A special thanks to the talented Paul Dozier for his amazing assembly of the trampoline…and to Charles Williams for his assistance!)

Posted in March 2016 | Leave a comment


A Home of Her Own! | Team Summer

Remember this face?? It’s Maylee! Team Summer kid Alyssa made her a rabbit at Alyssa’s Team Summer Build-a-Bear party! And guess what? Maylee had already been selected by another Team Summer kid to get a Team Summer gift, and this is the story about that gift!

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Maylee is only four years old, but she’s already been through so much. Since being diagnosed with leukemia last September, she’s had five bone marrow biopsies, four spinal taps, and four rounds of chemo. For the first round of chemo, she had to spend six weeks in the hospital; the second round, five weeks; the third round, five weeks; and the fourth round, four weeks. Her mother told us that the hospital was beginning to feel more like home to Maylee than home did, and that Maylee was having anxiety about going home and being home.

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Listen to what three-year-old Team Summer kid Mykenzi did to help change that! She met Maylee at the hospital. Battling neuroblastoma herself, she knows all about being stuck in the hospital. She wanted to cheer her friend up. Since neither kid could leave the hospital, we brought Mykenzi’s Team Summer gift for Maylee right to the hospital…well, just outside the front door, because it was pretty big!

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It’s Maylee’s very own little house!

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The girls discovered quickly that in Maylee’s new house, there were many cool things to play with! Like this awesome sink with really cool knobs…

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And a blue front door that really works…

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Look what Maylee is pulling off the wall! Yup, this house comes with its own cellphone! Okay maybe IT doesn’t work, but in the girls’ minds, it absolutely does!

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Even under her mask, you can see Maylee’s smile!

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The girls played for awhile, and then it was time for them to go back inside the hospital. They both seemed okay with it, because they were going in together…new Team Summer friends who share a unique understanding of what it’s like to be a kid with cancer.

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One more thing: Remember how we told you that Maylee was having anxiety about being home after spending so much time in the hospital? Her mom told us that she had been afraid to be alone in her room and was insisting on sleeping with her mom instead of in her own bed. Well, ever since Maylee came home to the little house, which is now in her bedroom, she’s spent every single night in her own room. But not in her bed. She sleeps snuggled up inside her little house! Eventually, Maylee will be too big to sleep in her little house, but we hope the sense of security and confidence it has given her will last a lifetime!

Maylee Sleeping in her House

Know a kid with cancer? You can nominate him or her to Team Summer! We can do what we do only because of our supporters’ generous donations. Please help us help kids with cancer by clicking here.

Posted in March 2016 | Leave a comment


Build a Bear! | Team Summer

Eleven-year-old Alyssa is one of those kids who just sparkles! She has had a positive attitude and big heart for as long as her family can remember. And she was always really healthy…until last September when she started having some weird symptoms…like a backache and nausea. Doctors thought it was just a bad virus. But by mid-October, the left side of her face started to droop and her left leg dragged, and it became clear something was really wrong. An MRI of her brain showed the problem – a tumor. It was cancer.

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Alyssa started treatment right away. Lots of rounds of chemotherapy and all the physical challenges that come with it. Her mother reached out to Team Summer kid Kayla’s mom for advice, since Kayla had also battled a brain tumor. That’s how Kayla met Alyssa. And Kayla knew right away that she wanted to make Alyssa a Team Summer kid!

She found out that Alyssa is the kind of person who doesn’t really want things. She’d rather just be hanging out with her friends. And Kayla learned that Alyssa loves the Build-A-Bear store, a place where you get to make your own stuffed bear. So Kayla planned a surprise party for her there!

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Alyssa thought she was just headed to the mall to hang out with her two best friends – Hannah on the left and Ivey in the middle. But there was Kayla welcoming her to Team Summer and telling her about her gift! She and her friends were going to get to make their very own bears!

Now if you have never built a bear before, there’s a whole process to it. First, you get to pick out the bear  – or other animal – that you want to make. Alyssa chose a light brown bear with big blue eyes. Really, it was a bear pillow that she wanted to lean back on in her wheelchair!

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Now every bear has to have a heart. Alyssa picked one out, kissed it, made a wish, and put it inside her bear. We don’t know what her wish was, but we can take a good guess!

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Next, it was time to stuff! That’s when a bear really becomes a bear.

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And you get to choose just the exact softness you want. Alyssa got her bear to just the right squishy-ness, declared it “perfect!” and named it Huggable!

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See that white cat peeking out behind Huggable in the picture above? That’s what Alyssa made next and named it Frisky. And Frisky needed some clothes!

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Check out this outfit! Love the shoes! (Purple! Summer’s favorite color!)

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All her animals needed now were birth certificates. Yup, birth certificates!

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Alyssa’s friends got to make bears, too! Well, actually, Ivey chose a rabbit. Hannah chose a bear.

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But Alyssa was not finished yet! She had one more stuffed animal in mind. Alyssa had only just become a Team Summer kid and was already thinking like one! Remember what we said earlier about her big heart?  She said she had a friend named Maylee who was also battling cancer, and she wanted to cheer her up. So Alyssa made her a brightly-colored rabbit and named her Joy because she thought the rabbit “would bring Maylee a lot of joy!”

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Alyssa would soon be headed back into the hospital for more chemo. But in this moment, she was a typical middle-school girl, hanging out with old friends and her new Team Summer friend, laughing and having fun, lost in a world of her own creations. She said the best part of her day was “getting to spend it with people who care.” Good job, Kayla!!

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P.S. This just in: Maylee with her gift from Alyssa! I’d say Joy IS bringing a lot of joy!

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All Team Summer gifts are funded through donations from generous people like you. To donate, click here!


Posted in March 2016 | 1 Comment


One Response to “Build a Bear! | Team Summer”
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  1. dessie

    Alyssa is a very sweet girl I’ve known her all my life and she’s my cousen


Happy Birthday, Sarah! | Team Summer

Our very first ever Team Summer gift recipient has turned 16!

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When Summer Dale met Sarah, she was only 11 years old, dealing with her second round of cancer – the first when she was just 8 years old.


In the cancer clinic waiting room, Sarah had come up to Summer and asked to borrow her iPhone so she could play Angry Birds. That’s when Summer realized that Sarah did not have a gaming device of her own. Summer had already been given funds raised by friends to donate to a worthy cause, and in true Summer fashion, she made up her own cause. Using some of the money, she bought Sarah an iPod Touch, and Team Summer was born!

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Five years later, Sarah is still battling cancer. We so admire her perseverance and her spirit! From all of us at Team Summer, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SARAH!!! Thanks for being such an important part of this team!

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Posted in February 2016 | Leave a comment


Chandler Gets his Wish! | Team Summer

Seven-year-old Chandler is a sports guy. From a young age, he took to football and baseball like a champ. His coaches said he showed great promise.

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But all that changed last February. Chandler started getting tired. Really tired. He’d come home from school and fall asleep on the couch. And his leg hurt. Then some odd bruises showed up, and his parents – both nurses – knew something was seriously wrong. Doctors found the cause: leukemia. Since then, he’s had a year of intensive chemotherapy, including spinal taps. Going back to his first-grade classroom was impossible; sports were out. Life was not much fun, to say the least.

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But Team Summer had a big surprise coming for Chandler! Remember Team Summer kid Addi? She’s the one who got the great big doll house – so big that it took a U-haul to deliver it to her house! Turns out that she and Chandler went to pre-school together, and she chose him to give a Team Summer gift to!

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Finally, the big day came. Remember, Team Summer gifts are always a surprise! Very carefully, Addi read Chandler the Team Summer letter. Then she told him to close his eyes.

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With the help of a wonderful Team Summer volunteer, Addi brought in Chandler’s gift!

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Yup, it’s a puppy! But before we go on, you need to know that Chandler has been obsessed with getting his very own dog. It’s all he asked Santa for last Christmas, and, frankly, he was more than a little disappointed that there was not a puppy under the tree come Christmas morning. In fact, he had pretty much given up the idea that it was ever going to happen. And then he opened his eyes!

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It took Chandler awhile to fully grasp that this puppy was his. He asked our Team Summer volunteer a couple of times if the dog was hers. When he finally got it – that the puppy was really his – he said in an astounded voice, “This is just the dog I wanted!”

Since then, the two of them have been inseparable. Chandler named him Pugsy.

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Now, life for Chandler is a lot more fun! Let’s face it, having someone to snuggle with at night makes everything better. Even chemo.

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Our gifts are funded by people like you! Team Summer is a 501(c)(3) and all donations are tax-deductible. To support Team Summer, click here!


Posted in January 2016 | 1 Comment


One Response to “Chandler Gets his Wish! | Team Summer”
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  1. Annie Ball

    What an incredible gift! thanks for the wonderful work you are doing for kids Team Summer! Loved Summer, and love what you are doing to carry on her vision. Lucky kids.


Aliyah’s New Best Friend! | Team Summer

2015 was a year of shocking news for 15-year-old Aliyah. First, the pain in her knee she thought was a sprain turned out to be cancer – osteosarcoma. Then the day she had her port surgically implanted so that she could start chemo, her grandfather died unexpectedly. Then, when doctors tried to remove her tumor surgically, they discovered that her leg could not be saved. “Life or limb,” they told her mother. When Aliyah woke up from surgery, her left leg was gone.  And so was her spirit.

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Enter Team Summer kid Katelyn! She knows all about having a hard time. She lost her sight and her ability to walk while battling a brain tumor. So it was not surprising that she chose Aliyah to give a Team Summer gift to!

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Team Summer kid Kayla (standing in the picture below) helped with the surprise!

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Aliyah’s mother told us that she had been searching for some way to motivate her daughter to get up and walk on her prosthetic leg. And we found out that Aliyah had been begging her mother for a dog. So with her mom’s permission, we put two and two together and came up with four pounds of puppy!

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Aliyah told us later that as she realized she was getting a gift, all she could think was, “I hope it’s a puppy! I hope it’s a puppy!” She said a puppy was the only thing in the whole world she wanted.

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Katelyn got to hold the puppy, too. She could not see him, but she sure could feel him!

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And it looks like little Chewy (that’s the name Aliyah gave the puppy because of his propensity to chew everything!) has made all the difference. Before Chewy, Aliyah rarely put on her prosthetic leg to practice walking. Now she puts her leg on every day so she can take care of Chewy. “I have a reason to get out of bed,” Aliyah told us. She’s even starting to think about her future. Her dream is to be a prosthetic engineer so she can help other kids who have lost limbs.

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And listen to this: When Aliyah learned that it was now her turn to give a gift, she knew exactly who she wanted to help. She told us about a little boy she could hear crying through the walls of the hospital room next to hers. She’s excited that she now has a way to help cheer him up – kid to kid. Aliyah, we are so on it!

Team Summer is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, funded through donations from people like you! If you can help us help kids with cancer, please click here!

Posted in January 2016 | Leave a comment


Team Summer Goes to Florida! | Team Summer

Fourteen-year-old Lacey has always been physically active. A cheerleader and a gymnast, her favorite hobby is wakeboarding. Now if you don’t know what that is, don’t feel bad; we didn’t either at first. A wakeboard is like a snowboard, only for water.

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Up until last May, Lacey’s biggest challenge was learning how to do a flip on a wakeboard. But then it was her life that turned upside down. She finally found out the cause of the pain under her right arm. It was lymphoma – a cancer of the lymphatic system.

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For a girl who is used to the thrill of being pulled over the water at 35 mph, dealing with her cancer treatments has felt like pretty much the opposite. For months now, she’s been in the hospital for seven out of every 21 days. It’s debilitating and isolating.

Team Summer thought it might help Lacey to remind her that she’ll be back to wakeboarding before she knows it! We found out she did not have a wakeboard of her own. Her dad told us that she had been trying to save up to buy one, but still had to rent one when she skied.

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Team Summer gifts are always a surprise, and this one was no different. On the appointed day, Lacey’s family lured her to her favorite water park – Ski Rixen USA in Deerfield Beach, FL – with the promise of a sale at its retail store. That’s Lacey in the back seat of the golf cart wearing a straw hat, probably wondering why someone is taking her picture!

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What Lacey didn’t know is that Team Summer had sent our awesome Team Summer kid Tyler there to meet her. You might remember that Tyler is in Florida, too.  He beat Ewing’s sarcoma and is in his senior year at Stetson University in Deland.

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After a brief introduction, Tyler and Lacey walked over to a nearby picnic bench where Tyler read her the Team Summer welcome letter.

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In it, it says that she is getting a special gift, picked out just for her. Lacey was slowing getting the idea that she was not there for a sale!

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Tyler started with a wakeboard boot.

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And then he brought out the wakeboard!

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Finally, a wakeboard all her own! Lacey was clearly thrilled!

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But Lacey’s surprise was not over yet! The amazing employees of Ski Rixen USA had something very special planned for her. They had all come in on their day off – the park was not even open! – to put on a wakeboarding show just for her.

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They told her they wanted to show her the kinds of stunts she’d be doing with them soon enough!

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We hope that Lacey will carry the spirit of her fun day right into the hospital, dreaming of the time she’ll be out there riding on her very own wakeboard.

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And stay tuned! We think Lacey is going to start a whole new chain of Team Summer kids helping and supporting each other in Florida!!

Many thanks to Richard Bass for taking these great pictures for Team Summer!

Posted in January 2016 | 1 Comment


One Response to “Team Summer Goes to Florida! | Team Summer”
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  1. John Dietz

    Children with cancer is a phrase that just shouldn’t exist. However, children helping children fighting cancer is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. The world needs Team Summer. Summer Dale would be proud.


Robert the Great! | Team Summer

When Robert was diagnosed with cancer back in 2010, his father started calling him “Robert the Great” and the nickname stuck!

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And Robert has been great as he’s been dealing with all the procedures that come with leukemia. He was supposed to be in treatment for three and a half years. Then, just as his family was planning his end-of-treatment party, the disease came back and Robert had to start all over again. Two thousand doses of chemo later, he’s confined to a wheelchair and still fighting, but his smile is as big as his spirit.

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We found out that last year Robert (the Great!) had been chosen by Turner Broadcasting and Aflac to be the star of a video game they created just for him.

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Now as cool as all that was, Robert the Great had a problem. He had no way to play the game because he did not have the right gaming system.

So we went to work! With the help of Team Summer friend A.J. Piplica, who is pretty great himself, we designed a special gaming system just for Robert.

Then we called in awesome Team Summer kid Nicholas to present it all. He was the perfect choice because not only did he, too, get a gaming system as his Team Summer gift, but he also just finished battling the same disease as Robert!

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First Nicholas teased him with a keyboard. We could tell that Robert did not know what to think!

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Then with the help of his father, Nicholas took Robert into the kitchen where his gift was set up and ready to go!

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We loaded up the game featuring him – Robert the Great! He put on the headsets and off he went. It was the first time he had been able to play the game since he got it! He handled the controls as if he had been playing it all his life!

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We also made sure the system had portable components and gave him a knapsack so he can take his games with him into the hospital. And we loaded his system with software that will help with his school work, too. Robert the Great still has a ways to go with his treatment, but now, thanks to our wonderful donors, he’s got something really fun to distract him. And best of all, he has a new friend who really gets what it’s like to be a kid with cancer!

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Posted in January 2016 | Leave a comment