Three-Year Anniversary | Team Summer

Summer Dale

Three years ago today, we lost the founder of Team Summer to cancer. Summer Dale was only 16 years old when she left behind an incredible legacy. During the year she battled a rare sarcoma, she realized that kids with cancer need each other for mutual help and support. She found that they were the only ones who really understood what she was going through. With the help of family and friends, she started raising money to buy special gifts for kids she met at the hospitals and clinics…anything to cheer them up or distract them from their difficult treatments. She wanted to show them that they were not alone, that they were fighting this together, and that she cared.

Today, Team Summer is alive and well and full of Summer’s spirit. The gift-getters have become the gift-givers, as kids with cancer are reaching out to each other the way Summer did, giving gifts and offering support.  This video, created by Brenda Richterkessing, is a tribute to Summer and all the Team Summer kids who have shared their love with each other.

Team Summer’s work is made possible by your generous donations. Click here to donate! Anyone can nominate a Georgia kid with cancer to become a Team Summer kid! Click here to nominate!

Posted in November 2015 | 1 Comment


One Response to “Three-Year Anniversary | Team Summer”
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  1. Chad and Cathi Morriss

    We are so proud to be supporters of Team Summer! We don’t know where we would be right now if we had not crossed paths with this beautiful, courageous young lady! What an inspiration she was and still is!


Addi’s Little World | Team Summer

Just a couple of weeks after Addi started kindergarten, she started limping. Then she kept saying her leg hurt. An x-ray led to the cause: osteosarcoma. Bone cancer. After that, everything in her world changed. Over the next seven months, Addi spent 117 days in the hospital, which included weeks and weeks of chemotherapy and a surgery that removed 7″ of her femur.

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Then at the hospital one day, Addi met Team Summer Kid Lauren and the two became fast friends! It was actually Lauren’s Team Summer gift, her puppy Hope, that brought them together! Lauren’s mom had brought Hope to the hospital for a visit and Addi wanted to pet her. Lauren says she knew right away that she wanted to give Addi a Team Summer gift. What she came up with sounded simple enough: a dollhouse. But this was SOME DOLLHOUSE!! Thanks to donors like you, Team Summer was able to pull it off! More than 6 feet tall, Team Summer had to rent a U-Haul to get it to Addi’s house. Sneaking it in wasn’t easy!

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When the drape came off, we don’t think Addi could have been any more surprised! Right away, she started loading it up with dolls and furniture….

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….including one special doll, also part of her Team Summer gift. It’s the doll that American Girl put out for kids with cancer. It’s bald, just like Addi has been. Her mom says Addi calls it “the most beautiful doll I’ve ever seen.”

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The dollhouse is now Addi’s own little world, a safe place just for her. Her mom says she plays with it every night, talking quietly to all her dolls.

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Lauren, great job spotting Addi in the hospital and wanting to help! That is what Team Summer is all about. Now it’s Addi’s turn to give a gift. We’re told she already has someone in mind. Shhhhhh! It’s a surprise!

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Posted in November 2015 | 1 Comment


One Response to “Addi’s Little World | Team Summer”
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  1. Annie Ball Butters

    Wonderful to see such a terrific gift– something any girl would treasure at her age… and speaking of Treasures– Summer Dale was, and still is, a wonderful treasure to all who knew her. Love how her spirit is bright and shines on in these gifts. Keep up the great work Team Summer! And thanks to all who support her efforts.


Time Away From It All! – Team Summer

It started as a random comment to her parents. Sarah wanted to pick peaches again at Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, GA. The trek to the mountain town had become somewhat of a tradition for the 18-year-old. Picking peaches has been her reward for getting through medical procedures. Since Sarah is dealing with her third occurrence of Ewing’s sarcoma in six years, she knows all about medical procedures.

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What Sarah didn’t know was that 10th-grader Maddie had already chosen her to receive a Team Summer gift! You may remember that Maddie’s Team Summer gift was a limo ride to her 8th grade dance! Now a 10th grader – out of treatment and doing well! – Maddie wanted to help another kid still in the trenches.

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Team Summer went to work! Fortunately, we have a great friend in Blue Ridge – Jack Morton – who knows pretty much everyone in town. He went to work to arrange a trip for Sarah and her family that they would never forget!

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He started with a place to stay. Tabetha Whitaker of Mountain Top Cabin Rentals gave them a cabin – complete with a pool table and hot tub – for three nights!

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Then Jack moved on to food. Steven Oyer treated them all to dinner at his first-class Black Sheep Restaurant! Linda Thompson donated a fabulous lunch for five at her restaurant – L & L Beanery Coffee and Cafe!

And the place that had drawn Sarah to Blue Ridge in the first place welcomed her back! Melissa Lilliard of Mercier Orchards donated breakfast and a private tour of the orchard! Melissa told us that she can relate to Sarah’s fight. She herself is battling lung cancer.

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The town of Blue Ridge was not done embracing this family. Gina Golden of Toccoa Valley Campground donated free tubing down the Toccoa River, Cohutta Cove Mini Golf gave the family free miniature golf, and Blue Ridge Scenic Railway General Manager Larry Dyer gave the family five tickets to the train! Because of Sarah’s health, they were not able to do all the activities, but Sarah and her family were overwhelmed by the town’s generosity!

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For Sarah, the best part of the trip was being together with her family. In Blue Ridge, they could shut the world out and everything about cancer, and just enjoy one another’s company.

Team Summer had one more surprise for them, one that didn’t require them to leave their beautiful cabin! We sent over Chef Douglas from Cabin Cuisine, who also volunteered his time! While the family played games, Chef Douglas fixed them a gourmet three-course meal, using vegetables that came straight from his own garden!

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Of course, none of this would have been possible without the caring heart of Maddie, someone who knows all too well what it’s like to be a kid fighting cancer. She and Sarah now share a bond that not many can understand.

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Many thanks to photographer David Murray for the priceless pictures of Sarah and Maddie!


Posted in August 2015 | Leave a comment


Horseback Riding! | Team Summer

Riding a horse is a great way to get your mind off unpleasant things. And 8-year-old Gabriella has had a lot of unpleasant things happen to her in the last 10 months. While on vacation last year, her lymph nodes suddenly swelled up. A bunch of tests later, she was diagnosed. It was a blood cancer – leukemia.

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The months that followed were “nightmarish,” according to Gabriella’s mom. The worst of it included chemo injected directly into Gabriella’s spinal column, steroids that caused diabetes which led to painful insulin injections into her stomach, and four-day hospital stays every two weeks for months. But sometimes it’s words that hurt the most. When Gabriella’s hair fell out, a kid from school asked her if she was a boy.

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If any kid could use some cheering up, it was Gabriella; and 13-year-old Team Summer kid Kayla knew it. During treatments at the clinic, they had bonded over two things: cancer (yuck!) and horses.

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Gabriella had tried riding before and Kayla wanted to get her back on a horse. (You might remember that Kayla was so obsessed with horses that her Team Summer gift was fancy bling tack!) Thanks to your generous donations, Kayla was able to surprise Gabriella with three things:

1. Very cool pink riding boots!

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2. A snazzy pink riding helmet!

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3. And horseback riding lessons for a year!!!!

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But most of all, Kayla was able to give Gabriella something only another kid with cancer could – hope and faith that she would some day get through all the cancer treatments and have a normal life again. Kayla has been cancer free for 15 months!

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And now it’s Gabriella’s turn to find a kid with cancer she can help – perhaps someone who is scared or lonely or having a rough time – someone she can give a Team Summer gift to! Who will it be?? Stay tuned!

Many thanks to Pam Doughty Photography for these wonderful pictures!

Posted in August 2015 | Leave a comment


A Girl’s Best Friend! | Team Summer

Cancer has been part of Sarah’s life for as long as she can remember. When she was just four years old, she woke up one morning with a severe pain in her head. Scans showed a mass on her optic nerve. Surgery relieved the pressure, but could not remove the tumor. Sixteen months of intense chemotherapy stabilized her condition, and for nine years, Sarah’a life was pretty normal. Then two years ago, a routine scan revealed what they had most feared – the tumor was growing again.


What followed next was anything but normal. While her friends were focused on school dances and parties, Sarah’s life involved endless appointments with specialists, repeated travel to DC for a clinical trial, and dealing with the debilitating effects of chemotherapy.

Veteran Team Summer kid Tyler, who battled Ewing’s sarcoma when he was 19, knows firsthand how isolating cancer can be for a teenager. He knew the gift Team Summer had planned for Sarah could help with that.


Sarah’s parents told us that Sarah had always wanted a dog. She had even already picked out a name for her made-up dog – Rumpelstiltskin or Rumpi for short!


But Sarah never thought her fantasy dog would become real!

Until now…





Thanks to your generous donations, Sarah now has a best friend she can count on to always be by her side, no matter what! And she knows there are other kids out there – kids like Tyler –  who have battled or are battling the same disease and truly understand what she is going through.


Click below to see the video of Sarah meeting Rumpi for the first time!!

Do you know a Georgia kid with cancer who could use some cheering up? Someone in your family? A friend’s family? A co-worker’s family? We’d love to help! Just go to to tell us more!

Posted in June 2015 | Leave a comment


Hope For Lauren! | Team Summer

For more than a year now, 11-year-old Lauren has been battling a rare form of brain cancer. Fifty-one weeks of chemotherapy, two months of radiation, and three surgeries have left her struggling with anxiety and panic attacks.

Team Summer Kid Antonio, who has been fighting leukemia, met Lauren at the hospital clinic (on his very last day of chemotherapy!) and knew that he wanted to give her a Team Summer gift.



Lauren’s mom told us that the only thing that seemed to calm Lauren down was playing with the neighbor’s dog, an adorable Havenese. We learned that the same breeder had had another litter. When Lauren saw pictures of the puppies, she playfully named them. What she didn’t know was that the one she named Hope was about to be hers!


Finally, the big day arrived! Team Summer gifts are always a surprise, so Lauren had no idea what was coming…



It is not an exaggeration to say that it was love at first sight – an instant bond between Lauren and Hope! It was almost as if the puppy knew she had a special mission in this world – to help a little girl bear all that she must. Lauren was overheard whispering in the puppy’s ear, “You are just a bundle of Hope.”



Hope is being trained as a service dog – something your donations helped finance! That means Hope can go everywhere with Lauren. So instead of crying and screaming during medical procedures, Lauren now sits calmly with Hope on her lap. Instead of staying isolated in her room at the hospital, Lauren goes out in the halls to share Hope with other kids with cancer. In short, these days, Lauren is focused less on her own struggles and more on trying to help other kids battling the same disease. And that is what Team Summer is all about!

Oh, and guess what? Lauren has already identified someone she wants to give a Team Summer gift to! Shhhhh….it’s a surprise! So stay tuned!

Posted in April 2015 | 2 Comments


2 Responses to “Hope For Lauren! | Team Summer”
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  1. Lisa Dempsey

    So lovely to see the life that Summer continues to bring to so many. well done in her memory! the love continues


Nicholas Becomes a Team Summer Kid! | Team Summer


A year ago, Nicholas’ world got turned upside-down. He had been feeling really tired and rundown and did not know why. A blood test finally showed the reason: leukemia.


Since then, things have not been easy for Nicholas. Along with chemotherapy, he also needed a bone marrow transplant. His little brother was his donor. The procedure required Nicholas to spend weeks in isolation. Not easy for anyone, particularly a 14-year-old. Talk about boring.

Enter Team Summer kid Hunter! He knows just what it’s like to be stuck in a hospital being bored.

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Having received a Team Summer gift himself a few months earlier, Hunter knew he could now give a Team Summer gift! At the cancer clinic one day, he talked to Nicholas and knew he was the one he wanted to help. He found out that Nicholas had always wanted an X-Box One gaming system. Thanks to your generous donations, Team Summer was able to buy one for Hunter to give to Nicholas. But on the day the gift was to be given, Hunter was not feeling well enough to attend. Fortunately, Team Summer kid Antonio was available to step in!

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It worked out well, because Antonio had been battling the same disease as Nicholas and was about to have his very last treatment. Antonio could encourage Nicholas to keep fighting. We heard him say to Nicholas, “I found it really helps if you keep a positive attitude.”

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Nicholas has one of the sweetest smiles imaginable, and it was so wonderful to see him happy that day. We got him lots of games to play on the X-Box, too, so boredom should not be a problem for Nicholas again for a very long time!

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Hunter, great job reaching out despite being in the middle of your own fight with cancer! Antonio, thanks for dropping everything and stepping in when we needed you! Go Team Summer!


Posted in January 2015 | Leave a comment


Surprises for Hunter! | Team Summer

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Twelve-year-old Hunter has been having a very hard time. Ever since he was diagnosed with a brain tumor earlier this year, his world has been turned upside down. It seems as if he’s spent more time in the hospital than out, alternating between nausea and boredom. There was not much Team Summer could do about Hunter’s nausea, but former cancer patient and Team Summer kid Lacey had lots of ideas on how to help with his boredom!

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Having battled cancer herself, Lacey knows what it’s like to spend countless hours in a hospital bed with nothing to do. Thanks to your generous donations, she was able to give Hunter something he had always wanted – a pair of red Beats headphones. And believe us, Hunter knows just how to tune out the world with Beats over his ears!

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Then we added in a couple of new video games and, well, the boredom problem got better!


But there was something else we heard about that Hunter had always wanted. Hunter is a HUGE Falcons fan and particularly a HUGE fan of Falcon’s wide receiver Julio Jones. Using some of Team Summer’s connections, we were able to present Hunter with his very own Julio Jones jersey – autographed by the man himself! Thank you Julio and Terrin McKay for making this happen!

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Hunter will be the first to tell you that having cancer as a kid is really, really tough. But at least on this day he had someone  to talk to who really gets it – Team Summer kid Lacey. Someone who could show him her scars. Someone to give him hope that he, too, will get through this ordeal.

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Posted in November 2014 | 1 Comment


One Response to “Surprises for Hunter! | Team Summer”
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  1. Lisa Miner

    You are such a strong young man and an inspiration to others who are going through tough times. Praying God takes care of you and your family during these tough times.


The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship! | Team Summer

Four-year-old Julia and three-year-old Addison have a lot in common. Both are battling cancer. Both have endured many trips to the hospital and struggled with difficult treatments like chemotherapy.

Now they have something else in common. Something a lot more fun. They are Team Summer friends!


They met in a play area in the hospital and then saw each other again at the cancer clinic. Addison had already gotten a Team Summer gift. Now it was her turn to give a gift, so she chose Julia!

If you watch Addison’s face closely (she’s wearing the pink shirt), you’ll see that giving is even better than getting!

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Thanks to donations from wonderful people like you, Addison was able to give Julia a LeapPad 3 — a fun, learning computer for kids her age. Julia’s mother told us that Julia loves it! “She won’t let go of it! She sleeps with it!”


Certainly, the gift will distract Julia from what she has to endure – twenty spinal taps so far, for example – but more importantly, she has a positive connection to the hospital now. A new friend — one who really understands. Her mom says that when Julia walks through the doors of the hospital, she says, “Remember my Team Summer friend?” And when you have 14 more months of treatment left to go, a friend is a great thing to have.

Anyone can nominate a child with cancer to become a Team Summer kid! Just go to our website and click Nominate!


Posted in October 2014 | Leave a comment


Team Summer Superstar Kid!! | Team Summer

Team Summer is pleased to announce that 13-year-old Kayla has become our very first Team Summer Superstar Kid!!

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Kayla was diagnosed with a brain tumor back in January 2013. She came to us through 16-year-old Haley (thank you, Haley!), who was battling cancer herself. Haley selected Kayla for a Team Summer gift and gave her fancy bling tack for her horse!

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 And then Kayla’s heart took over in a big way!

Despite everything she was going through – surgeries, hospital stays and endless rounds of chemo – Kayla stayed positive and paid it forward, giving back to other kids with cancer. In all, FOUR – count them FOUR! – Team Summer gifts!

First, Kayla’s heart went out to 3-year-old Elizabeth, who was battling lymphoma. Kayla worried about how someone so young could get through everything she herself was dealing with. She found out that Elizabeth loved to borrow the hospital’s iPad, so with Team Summer’s help, she got Elizabeth one of her own to help her pass the time!

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Next she found 14-year-old Sydney. Tall and beautiful, Sydney was struggling with a recurrence of Ewing’s sarcoma which showed up as a tumor on her spine. Kayla found out that Sydney wanted to be a model when she grew up. So Kayla gave her something she always wanted – a fashion photo shoot, complete with a professional makeup artist and photographer. Thanks to Kayla, cancer was not on Sydney’s mind the day these pictures were taken.



Next, Kayla met 3-year-old Kaylee, who had been diagnosed with leukemia. They met at the hospital and became fast friends. To keep Kaylee’s busy, busy mind occupied during chemotherapy, Kayla got her an iPod Touch so she could listen to her favorite songs.

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And Kayla did not stop there. She made friends with 8th-grader Maddie who had recently been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. Kayla gave Maddie the evening of her life, complete with a makeup artist, dinner with all her friends, and a limo ride to the 8th grade dance!

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No doubt, Kayla got as much as she gave. Her mother told us that for so many weeks, the only time Kayla smiled was when she was giving a Team Summer gift. At such a young age, Kayla learned what some of us never do – that the best way to help yourself is to help someone else. That idea is the very foundation of Team Summer, and Kayla exemplifies the best of who we are.

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SOOOOO….Kayla has been named our very first Team Summer Superstar kid and was recently awarded a necklace made especially for her. All of us at Team Summer are floored by Kayla’s sweet heart.

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Here’s what it looks like on the back!

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We want to give a big thanks to Nicole Streblow of Edge of Marsh Creations for helping us create Kayla’s necklace. And we are so grateful to her for donating half the cost back to Team Summer! Thank you, Nicole! Beautiful job!

Who will be the next Team Summer Superstar Kid? It all starts with the nomination of a Georgia kid who has been diagnosed with cancer. Anyone can nominate! Family, friends, even the kids themselves! Click here!



Posted in September 2014 | Leave a comment