Apr
8th

Second Annual Art Auction Fundraiser at Riverwood!

Riverwood HS Event-7

Mark your calendars – Thursday April 17th from 5:30p-7:00p! It is time once again for the second annual Art Auction Fundraiser for Team Summer at Riverwood High School in Sandy Springs!!

The Riverwood National Honor Society is hosting an art show and silent auction (followed by  Riverwood’s Showcase for Visual and Performing Arts at 7:00p). All the proceeds from the silent auction will be donated to Team Summer! How cool is that?

You really need to see what these high school kids have created! Such talent! And in all art forms, including paintings, drawings, multi-media, and photography.

Riverwood was a special place for Summer – a school she loved. She would have been graduating this year, along side her twin brother, Jordan. It is so touching and special that the school is remembering Summer and Team Summer in this way.

One of Summer’s favorite classes at Riverwood was photography, and her teacher, Dana Munson, is one of the people heading up this fundraiser, along with the fabulous Elizabeth Karp. Many thanks in advance to them for all their hard work. We are enormously grateful for their support!

Riverwood’s address is 5900 Raider Drive NW, Atlanta, GA 30328. Please join us! All are welcome! It’s going to be a fun evening!

 

Posted in April 2014 | Tagged Leave a comment


 
Mar
26th

Jack Gets the Driver’s Seat! | Team Summer

Jack's-Gift-15After years of being told what to, where to go, what treatments he had to endure, Jack is finally in the driver’s seat!

We met 7-year old Jack after a teacher at his school nominated him through the Team Summer website! Jack battled leukemia for three years – as long as he can remember, if you think about it. Finally, thanks to your donations to Team Summer, Jack got something he always wanted, an ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle)!

When you spend so much time in the hospital, making friends is not easy. The one good friend Jack did have was a neighbor down the street. Problem was that the neighbor had an ATV, but Jack did not. Hard to play together. And when your parents are busy trying to pay hospital bills, an ATV is not high on the list.Jack's-Gift-02

Antonio (right), who battled leukemia himself and is a previous Team Summer gift recipient (Summer herself gave him his cherished laptop), welcomed Jack to the Team Summer family.

Remember, Team Summer gifts are always a surprise and Antonio took the duty of surprising Jack very seriously! After reading him the Team Summer letter, Antonio very carefully walked him down to where his gift was waiting and then VOILA! The big unveiling and the handing over of the keys! Jack's Gift - TriPic

Jack is now the proud owner of his very own shiny blue ATV – with all the appropriate kid safety features, of course! Jack’s mom told us that after we left, Jack just keep on riding around the yard. It got dark, but that did not slow him down. He just flipped on his headlights and kept on riding. Many thanks to all of you who helped make this joyous day possible.

And a super big thanks to photographer Alison Church, who volunteered her time and captured this day so beautifully!

We understand that Jack already has a kid with cancer in mind to whom he wants to give a gift – paying it forward in the best spirit of Team Summer!

Jack's-Gift-20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in March 2014 | Leave a comment


 
Feb
9th

Hannah Cate Gets a Swingset! | Team Summer

Team SummerAs the fifth of  six children in her family, 11-year-old Hannah Cate has always been surrounded by a lot of love and support. But her life has not been easy. Not by a long shot.

Born with Downs Syndrome, she was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia when she was just six years old. After endless rounds of chemo and procedures, she went into remission. But last year, the cancer came back, and her family was once again tossed into what they call the “rodeo.”

A look at Hannah Cate’s Caring Bridge – a special website where her mom updates family and friends about Hannah Cate’s condition – tells the story. A stunning 231 entries dating all the back to 2007, chronicling every treatment, setback, and fear. This little girl has been through a lot.

Team SummerWe heard about Hannah Cate when Molly Swan of Albany, GA used our website to nominate her to be a Team Summer Kid. Thank you, Molly!

Team SummerRight away, 20-year-old Tyler Hayes, who has fought his own battle with cancer, wanted to be the one to give Hannah Cate a gift.

Her mom told us that Hannah Cate had always wanted her very own swing set.  So we called Home Depot in Albany, GA, and their response blew up away! When they heard what we were doing, employees Flo Reneau and James King immediately started organizing employees to volunteer to build the set for us! Braving 15 degree temperatures, they came with space heaters and joyous attitudes, and spent 6 hours assembling the set! Home Depot also donated the wood chips and the sandbox.

Team Summer - Home Depot

Finally it was time for the unveiling! Tyler read Hannah Cate the Team Summer welcome letter, and then everyone trooped down to the backyard. All of the Home Depot employees came back to watch, along with a local TV station! Hannah Cate was thrilled, insisting that her new friend, Tyler, give her the first push!

One really sweet moment was when Hannah Cate asked Tyler if she could see the scar on his collar bone where his port once was. There is a lot that Hannah Cate does not understand about her cancer, but she knows that people who wear that scar share a special bond with her.

Thanks to all of you who donated to Team Summer and made this day possible! You made a little girl very happy. And a special thanks to Kim Russell at K & R Photography for taking these wonderful pictures!

Team Summer
Do you know a kid in Georgia with cancer who could use some cheering up?  We would love to hear about him or her.  Go to our NOMINATE page to learn more.

Posted in February 2014 | Leave a comment


 
Jan
22nd

Josiah Pays it Forward! | Team Summer

Josiah and SummerJosiah was only two years old when he got his Team Summer gift from Summer. Now four years old, he just gave his first Team Summer gift…to three-year-old Elijah!

The two boys have a lot in common. Both were diagnosed at the same age, just under 2, with the same disease, neuroblastoma – which is a cancer of nerve tissues.

ElijahElijah has been through a lot in his young life. Each of the beads on the necklaces (in the picture to the right) represents a medical procedure or process that he has endured – including biopsies, blood draws, hospital stays, and chemo treatments.

Team Summer found out that Elijah loves typing on keyboards, so Josiah’s gift to Elijah was an iPad with a yellow keyboard attached! The boys formed an immediate friendship and had a blast breaking in Elijah’s new iPad! Many thanks to all of you who, through your donations, helped make this happen!Elijah's Gift-14

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in January 2014 | Leave a comment


 
Dec
12th

Thank you, Rowan!

Rowan 1When 17-year-old Rowan left for her job this summer to be a counsellor for girls at Camp Seafarer in Arapahoe, North Carolina, she knew she wanted to make a difference. She found out that the camp was holding a special session later in the summer for families of cancer survivors, and she began searching for ways to help raise needed funds. At the same time, she had also been looking for a way to help Team Summer. She and Summer had been friends in high school.

So she got the idea to take with her to camp a batch of Team Summer wristbands. She began offering them to her campers for a $6 donation.

The wristbands were a HUGE hit with the girls! Every few weeks or so this summer, Team Summer would get a call or email from Rowan saying that she had sold out her inventory and needed more wristbands!

In all, Rowan raised $630 for Team Summer and the same amount for cancer survivor session. Just amazing!

Some people talk about doing good, and other people do it. You do it, Rowan, and we love your heart!

Rowan 2Rowan (3rd from left) and three of her campers!

Posted in December 2013 | Leave a comment


 
Dec
12th

Tiny Dancer Kaylee! | Team Summer

Kaylee's Gift-17Meet the latest Team Summer kid! Kaylee is only 21 months, but she is already full of personality!

On August 1st of this year, her parents got the shocking news that Kaylee had cancer – leukemia. Her mom, Duffy, told us that she “will never forget the diagnosis day and how your world just stops.” Since then, it’s been seemingly endless trips to the clinic and the hospital.Kaylee's Gift-8-2

It’s hard enough to entertain a two-year-old anywhere, but in a hospital, it is nearly impossible. Remember, kids get their chemo through long tubes attached to poles, so running and jumping is out.

A few weeks ago at clinic, 12-year-old Team Summer kid Kayla, who is fighting her own battle with brain cancer (see previous blogs), met Kaylee and wanted to help. She knew that Kaylee loved playing with her mom’s iPhone and routinely wore out the battery listening to music and playing games. So, with funds donated by you and others, Kayla gave Kaylee her very own iPod Touch!

Kaylee's Gift-14Kaylee knew what to do with it immediately; and before we knew what was happening, she had some music blaring and began dancing!

We say any day a child with cancer is dancing is a good day!

P.S. If you are looking at these pictures and thinking what we were thinking – that the iPod was going to be dropped and broken in about a NewYork minute – know that we rushed a “Survivor” case to Kaylee’s parents. According to the box, the iPod Touch is so protected now that Kaylee can take it into combat…which is about what a lengthy hospital stay with a two-year-old feels like!

Kaylee -Triptych-Kaylee

 

Posted in December 2013 | 1 Comment



 

 
One Response to “Tiny Dancer Kaylee! | Team Summer”
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  1. Kaylee loves a phone. She is very capable with Grandma Sara’s phone. Kaylee loves music and will dance and dance if she hears a tune.

    She is so expressive. She is precious. Ask her Grandpa Ron? She is a joy. Look at her big, beautiful eyes.

    Kaylee is an adorable,love bug!

    Greetings from Naples, Florida

 
Dec
12th

Lauren Update! | Team Summer

Lauren wearing wristbandsRemember Lauren, the 19-year-old girl who was diagnosed with leukemia just after she started her sophomore year of college and had to drop out? We thought you’d like to know what she’s been up to!

Despite all the debilitating treatments that Lauren has had to endure, her enthusiastic spirit remains untouched. She was so grateful for her Team Summer gift (a laptop so that she could stay in touch with her friends while she was in the hospital) and for her Team Summer connection to another kid who has battled cancer – 20-year-old Tyler – that she set about immediately to give back.

At her request, Team Summer got her wristbands in her favorite colors – a swirl of purple, pink and blue.  Even though she is mostly housebound, she found a way to sell 50 wristbands by mailing them all over the country to family and friends! She raised $125 for Team Summer and $125 to help with her medical bills! And she is still at it! Go Lauren!Lauren wristbands

In some upcoming blogs, you’ll see how her contribution was put to good use!

She also sent us this wonderful video made about her battle with leukemia, and we wanted to share it with you!

Perhaps Lauren’s most exciting news is that she got an early Christmas present from her brother: a puppy! Even though Lauren still has another year and a half of treatment to go, we are happy to know that  she will have a loyal companion by her side!

Lauren and her puppy

Posted in December 2013 | Leave a comment


 
Nov
22nd

Riverwood Girls Rock! | Team Summer

Riverwood Supports Team SummerAbout a month ago, Brooke and Hannah (the two girls in the middle of the top row), friends of Summer’s from Riverwood High School, called Team Summer to say that they were planning a Team Summer fundraiser to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Summer’s passing. On their own, they found someone to make Team Summer bumper stickers….for free!….and got their principal’s permission to sell them at school!

Then, on Monday, November 11th, and the day after, with the help of more of Summer’s friends, the girls sold the stickers during every lunch period. They even coordinated for everyone at school to wear purple – Summer’s favorite color – on November 11th!

In just two days, the girls raised a whopping $933!!

And if you didn’t get a bumper sticker, you can still get one by sending a check made out to “Team Summer” to:

Team Summer, Inc.
4920 Roswell Road

Suite 45-D, #209
Atlanta, GA 30342

It’s $5 for the big sticker and $3 for the smaller one. Add $1.50 for the envelope and postage, and the girls will mail you your order! A HUGE thank you to Leslie Weatherly at Team Banner for contributing the stickers!

We are so impressed with the girls’ ingenuity and follow-through. No doubt, Summer would have been impressed, especially since the girls even got permission to skip some classes!

Thank you so much, Brooke and Hannah, and everyone else who helped! In the true spirit of Team Summer, you made what could have been a really tough day, one that was instead full of love and giving.

Posted in November 2013 | Leave a comment


 
Nov
21st

Kids Helping Kids! | Team Summer

Reid's Bar Mitzvah - 1
Reid just had his Bar Mitzvah! Sure, he wanted to have a big party, but he also wanted to give back, too. He had heard of Team Summer through school and wanted to help.

Unfortunately, Reid is all too familiar with cancer. His dad has been battling it for a year and a half.

What Reid decided to do was sell Team Summer wristbands to all his guests at his Bar Mitzvah! See all the purple wristbands in the pictures?! Reid raised $678 for Team Summer!

Reid, we appreciate your heart! You are a beautiful example of kids helping kids!

Reid Supports Team Summer

Posted in November 2013 | Leave a comment


 
Nov
11th

One Year Ago Today…. | Team Summer

Lynne and SummerOne year ago today, Summer Dale, the founder of Team Summer, lost her battle with cancer. Yesterday, I, her mother, Lynne Dale, was privileged to be asked to speak at my church about her loss and my faith. Here’s what I said, and it is an answer to the question of how I am doing…one year later:

“I really don’t know how I’m standing. I don’t mean here, today. I mean – at all. When I was on the other side of Summer’s death, I didn’t think there would be any way for me to function on this side. Yet I am. Why? I can’t explain this any other way, than to say that something sustains me, and it comes from deep inside me. Whatever it is, I feel tethered to it, and it is the foundation of my faith.

I’m not suggesting that dealing with the loss of my 16 year old daughter – one year ago tomorrow – has been easy. Far from it. I have gone through one of the great tragedies life has to offer . The first 6 months after Summer died were so tough. First of all, it was hard just recovering from the stress and trauma of what we all went through while she was ill. What I remember most is the fear. The unrelenting fear that the unthinkable would happen. And then it did. It was so difficult moving from fight mode into the stillness. I remember turning to Charles, my husband, many times during  those first few months and saying, “Summer died.” Charles, bless his heart, would just say back, “Yes. she did.” I think I had to hear it out loud, because I just couldn’t comprehend it.

A turning point for me came a little after the six-month mark. I was at an all-time low emotionally. I just missed Summer so much, and I couldn’t get it together. I couldn’t be around strangers, and I couldn’t be alone. Then, on the same day, one of my friends took me to lunch, and another friend took me to dinner.  And they both asked me the same question: “Have you felt Summer’s presence since she’s been gone?” No one had ever asked me that before. Now here I was being asked that twice on the same day, and these friends did not know each other. I was really quite startled.

At the time, the answer to their question was, “No.” But, then again, I had never really thought about it before, never tried to sense her presence. All I had felt so far was the emptiness of her bedroom. But I wondered, if Summer were trying to communicate with me, how would she do it? Through my friends, of course. And I thought about how Summer herself was sure that after she passed, she’d still be with us.  A few weeks before she died, she told a group of us, ‘Remember, after I’m gone – anything good that happens, it’s me.’

But could I feel her presence? I’ll get back to that question in a moment, but first I want to tell you about Summer’s journey, because it has everything to do with mine. Over the year Summer battled cancer, I watched, often dumbfounded, as Summer’s sense of empathy, her love for others, grew as fast as the cancer. By the time Summer died, she was a very different girl from the one she had been.

To be honest, before Summer got sick, she was a pretty miserable person. For reasons I couldn’t understand, she was sure she had the worst life ever. And self-destructive behaviors were already emerging. At first, the cancer diagnosis just made everything worse. She felt so alone. Cancer removed her from her friends and thrust her into a scary adult world full of pain and fear. I remember her saying, ‘I’m the only one, Mom. I’m the only kid in my whole school with cancer.’ And she was right.  It was hard to know how to console her. At the same time, she didn’t want to have anything to do with other kids with cancer. When we went into the cancer wing of Scottish Rite, she kept her head down. She didn’t talk to anyone.

After her second round of chemo, Summer’s beautiful long dark hair began to fall out in chunks. It was really horrifying. She decided to have it all shaved off to spare herself the sight of her pillow in the morning. As a sign of solidarity, her twin brother, Jordan, shaved his head too. Summer told me later that something profound had happened  to her the day of the shaving party.  For the first time since she had been diagnosed, she had someone by her side who was going through the same thing she was going through. Family and friends were patting Jordan’s bald head as much as hers. She felt the power of that connection, the connection of shared experience. And somewhere in there, it dawned on her that she really needed other kids with cancer because they were the only people who could really understand what she was going through.

About the same time, friends began raising money for our family, selling purple “Team Summer” wristbands. Half the money went to help with Summer’s medical bills, and the other half was supposed to go to the charity of Summer’s choosing.

I think most of you know the story by now. By this time, Summer had become acutely aware of all the suffering children around her. Virtually every kid she saw in the hospital or the clinic waiting room had cancer, and it was not lost on her that some of these kids had it so much worse than she did. She began using the money under her charge to buy special gifts for them – gifts that would either cheer the child up or distract the child from the difficult treatments. For example, she gave an 11-year old boy who was facing a leg amputation three enormous Mega Blok kits – a particular passion of his. The night before his surgery, he was building alien spacecrafts, not thinking about what was going to happen in the morning. She gave a 6-year old girl with leukemia a motorized scooter – something the girl had always wanted. Summer wanted her to have fun, the way a child should. She gave iPads and laptops to teenagers so they could stay in touch with their friends when they were in the hospital.

Summer called the gifts “ice breakers,” because what she was really doing was making connections with kids, showing them that they were in this together, that she understood and that she cared. And she really felt their pain. I remember once we were delivering a gift to a kid, and, as we pulled up, we realized that he lived in a trailer. Summer just lost it. All she could say was, “He has cancer and he lives in a trailer? That’s not fair, Mom. That’s just not fair!”

The more kids she helped , the happier and calmer Summer got.  For the first time, she saw a purpose to her life.  Her mission had her glowing from the inside, and everyone around her could feel it. The more gifts she gave, the more people donated to her cause. She got cards and letters from all over the country. Without intending to, she was inspiring people from all walks of life – to do better, to be better people. Before she died, Team Summer had raised more than $50,000. That’s a pretty astounding number for a girl who was also simultaneously undergoing countless rounds of chemo, weeks of radiation, and multiple surgeries.

Summer approached her death without fear or self-pity. And she was adamant that even if she were given the choice, she would not trade cancer away to go back to the girl she had been. Her transformation was that important to her.  She died at home – surrounded by all her family – on November 11, 2012.

Even in her absence, Team Summer is still going strong. Those who had received Team Summer gifts have become the gift-givers. The surprise for us has been that the gift-givers seem to get more out of Team Summer than the gift-getters.  We continue to be stunned at the power of unselfish love.

Which brings me back to the question my two friends asked me that day, six months after Summer died – had I sensed Summer’s presence since she’d been gone? Believe it or not, my answer came through an experiment I heard about with the Hubble telescope. Scientists decided to focus the telescope on an area of space that was completely black. A space between the stars, devoid of anything. It was a pretty risky move, given the demands on the telescope, and it was quite likely that this experiment would just be a total waste of time.

But after ten days of exposure, a breath-taking image emerged. Where there had appeared to be nothing, were actually three thousand galaxies. Three thousand galaxies, containing hundreds of billions of stars. Suddenly, this mind-boggling macrocosm became my microcosm. I thought about the darkness, the emptiness I had been feeling inside of me.  I wondered, if I could focus a telescope on it, what would I see? In a flash of insight and understanding, I could suddenly see all the light, all the love inside me, inside all of us. I could feel the hundreds of billions of souls and their connection to each other.  And in that flash, I knew that that was what I was tethered to – to the very essence of Life and Love itself. Us. It’s the same loving connection that Summer found so healing. And it’s the same connection that has me on my feet today.

And I knew in that instant, yes, of course I could sense Summer’s presence. Of course she was still with me…and with everyone else, too, all at once. Where could she go?”

May you all feel Summer’s presence – today and every day.

Posted in November 2013 | 9 Comments



 

 
9 Responses to “One Year Ago Today…. | Team Summer”
show comments ⇓

  1. Sarah Grace

    The speech you gave yesterday was so touching and wonderful. I have been thinking about Summer all day, I really really wish I met her.

  2. Mike Weible

    Dale Family,
    We lost our son in August of 2012.
    We, too, have felt the emptiness and loneliness that comes with tragedy.

    Know that your words are inspiring, and they brought us comfort.

    Peace be with you and Summer.

    Mike and Shelley

  3. Swani Vinton

    Thank you, Lynne. I could hear your voice as a read it. I love you very much.

  4. Eddy McDonnell

    Through Jeri, I knew “of” Summer before her passing. This past year, I know Summer.

  5. Nancee McCraw

    What a powerful, emotional and deeply moving story. I feel so honored
    that you shared that story and I was able to get a window into your world
    with Summer. The ending paragraph of your story is something I will always remember;
    of course the ones we love and lost are still with us! Just in a different form. So
    comforting to think that way and so true. You are an amazing woman and it’s not surprising
    you helped make such an awesome child.

  6. Keeping your family in my prayers today and everyday. You are so special to me! Thank you!

  7. Annie Johnson

    Thank you for sharing. I cant imagine your pain. I work at Grace Hospice in Cleveland, Ms. I have seen first hand the loving and loss of family members with Cancer. Your testimony is inspiring. Prayers for continued strength and faith.

  8. I was just thinking about you today!
    While I was spreading the word, I opened the link and read this.
    Has brought me to tears I wish I could have met her, but
    she has sparked a movement and she has touched me in spirit.

  9. Debbie Wunderlich

    Your Beautiful Summer ‘s Story is My sweet Dustin’s …….Your Story is mine…….Dustin fought a valiant & painful 52 mo. battle with AMLeukemia…..he was diagnosed 12/08…..in june 2009 he started a non profit org …….called Prevail…..also helped many emotionally & financially through their similar journey……he was always the sensitive compassionate person but like Summer became more that “Hero” to others fighting the Cancer Battle……he was Very well known in his Cancer World…….His Mission continues through his Brother & us……In Sept 2010 after relapsing……he realized the wisdom of a lifetime through receiving a bone Marrow transplant that gave him another chance at life……he realized what that sweet compassionate lady in Israel was offering….another person across the world a chance for life……his mission got stronger to grow the registry & bring awareness…..he facilitated many bone marrow drives that remain today with donors that are offering that chance of life as we share this moment………so sadly his transplant brought him Cancer free for the next 2 & 1/2 years ………Dustin Left us cancer free……But sadly the cure took him from us……I Live your Journey…..I feel your pain…..I live with the same purpose…..to breathe & help others like Dustin Taught me………DUSTIN & SUMMER FOREVER PREVAIL……I hope as we connect here , I somehow believe my Dustin’s bright & Loving spirit has connected with Summer…….I wish you Peace & Light My sister in Grief…Debbie Wunderlich……Dustin’s Proud Mom (4/19/84-3/13/13) RIP our sweet angels