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 | 1 Comment


One Response to “Hope For Lauren! | Team Summer”
show comments ⇓

  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”
show comments ⇓

  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!

Team Summer

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


Michael Johns

Team Summer has lost a dear friend.  Michael Johns, an American Idol runner-up in 2008, died suddenly this past Friday from an apparent  blood clot. He was 35 years old.

Michael Johns and Summer with TS band

Michael was very special to Summer Dale, the founder of Team Summer. When a family friend arranged for Summer to fly to Los Angeles to watch an American Idol show live in 2012, Michael Johns came to our hotel room ahead of time and put on a special concert just for Summer! I can still remember his gentle, shy smile; and, of course, Summer was completely enchanted! Here’s the video I took that day – Heart on My Sleeve.

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That night, Michael met us at the American Idol show and introduced  Summer around to everyone. He could not have been sweeter or more generous with his time. Later that year, after Summer died, Michael flew to Atlanta and graced us all with his beautiful voice at Summer’s memorial service at Opera in Midtown. None of us who were there will ever forget his touching, emotional performance.
Michael Johns - Celebration of Life
Our hearts break for his family, and mine breaks particularly for his mother. May she find peace in the knowledge that her son touched Summer’s life in such a special way.  Many will remember Michael for his incredible talent, but we will remember him most for his kindness to Summer at such a difficult time in her life.
                                                                                                                       Lynne Dale
                                                                                                                    Summer’s mom
Posted in August 2014 | Leave a comment


Wheels for Addison! | Team Summer

The intent of a Team Summer gift is to make a child’s cancer journey a little easier by distracting or entertaining the child. Sometimes that means a cool electronic device. Sometimes it’s a ride in a limo. Or a fashion photo shoot. But for three-year-old Addison, who is battling a brain tumor, it simply meant a safe ride to the hospital.

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Addison’s mom, Samantha, will tell you she knows one saying is true: “When it rains, it pours.”  Within the course of a year, her husband, Adam, got very ill and lost his job, which meant they lost their home; and their beloved Addison was diagnosed with a brain cancer.


And just when it seemed things couldn’t get worse, their car broke down, and they had no way to get Addison to her weekly chemo treatments in Atlanta, more than an hour away.

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The family had no choice but to ride the Medicaid bus. They say the problem was that it wasn’t a bus, it was a car. And the driver refused to run the air-conditioning, driving with the windows all the way down on the highway. Additionally, he played loud rap music and texted while he drove, causing the vehicle to swerve. All of these conditions served to increase the suffering of a sick child already nauseated from chemo.

Enter four-year old Elizabeth!

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You might remember her from about a year ago. Recently diagnosed with leukemia, she got a Team Summer gift – her very own iPad – from our Bling Girl, Kayla.

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Elizabeth’s mom said that they had not forgotten to keep on the lookout for a kid they could help, and recently called us to say Elizabeth was ready to give a gift! She had made friends with three-year-old Addison.

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Working with the girls’ moms, Team Summer decided the best way to make Addison’s cancer journey easier was to do it literally…by fixing the family car!  We learned that Mike Ford’s Auto Shop in Rome, GA had a solid reputation for honesty and quality work. So we had the car towed to his shop to see what he could do.

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After a thorough examination of the car, Mike Ford told us that, although it was a good vehicle, it needed numerous repairs to make it safe to drive. We agreed on a price, and he set to work. Within a week, he and his crew had the car up and running again!

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When we told Addison’s mom that the car was ready, she sent us this text:

“I told Addison this morning we were getting our car back and she started jumping up and down and said, ‘I not have to ride wit da mean man anymore?’ I said, ‘No baby.’ And she said, ‘You can take me to the park?’ and I told her, ‘ Yes,’ and she started jumping up and down again saying ‘yahhhhh!!!’ :)”

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But our story does not end there. When we tried to pay Mike Ford, he told us that he and his wife had decided not to charge Team Summer. They wanted the money to be used to buy more gifts for kids with cancer. We tried to argue, but there was no changing his mind. All of us at Team Summer are truly touched by their generous hearts. Addison’s mom, Samantha, was in tears when she heard what they had done.

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And a special thanks, too, to the man who fixed the car’s broken dash, Hamp at Hamp’s Speedometer Service. He also insisted on donating his work!

Lastly, we could not resist one more gift. We learned that Addison used to have an iPad that she loved very much. She always took it to the hospital to play with when she went in for chemo. One day she dropped it and it broke, breaking her little heart along with it.

So using funds donated by wonderful people like you, with all of Mike’s crew looking on…

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…Elizabeth gave her a new one, this time with a super strong survivor case designed to withstand drops of up to six feet!

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Perhaps the best part of this story is the friendship that has formed between the two little girls, bonded by experiences no one this young should have to endure. Yet, when they see each other in the hospital next time, they will know they are with a friend, and it will be a less scary place. Heck, they might even have fun…the way the little girls are supposed to! Click here to watch them in action!

Addison's Gift


Anyone can nominate a child to become a Team Summer Kid! Simply go to our website and click on Nominate!

Posted in June 2014 | Leave a comment