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!

Sarah Gift

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 | Leave a comment


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


Meet Little Mykenzi! | Team Summer

Mykenzi is tiny. She’s three years old and weighs only 23 pounds. When we met her, she had just finished two days of stem cell harvest. It’s about as much fun as it sounds. And she was headed into her third round of chemo.

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She has neuroblastoma – an adrenal cancer that occurs in developing nerve cells – and doctors are throwing everything they can at her little body to treat the disease.

Five-year old Team Summer kid Elijah was exactly where she was a couple of years ago, battling the same disease.

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Now healthy and growing stronger every day – Elijah remembers something that helped him so much during those awful days –  an iPad he got from another Team Summer kid. He wanted to give Mykenzi the same gift.

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When she tore off the wrapping paper, Mykenzi knew exactly what it was, just from the picture on the box! She had borrowed the hospital’s iPad before to listen to music and play games.

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There must be lots that Mykenzi doesn’t understand about what’s happening to her. But she definitely understood that this was an iPad of her very own!

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Elijah also gave Mykenzi a sturdy case in her favorite color – pink! – to protect her new treasure, and an iTunes gift card so she can download her favorite games!

A few hours later, as her next round of chemo started, this little girl wasn’t thinking about needles and bags of dark fluid. She was glued to her own private screen, lost in a world of Barbie games and cartoons. Her mom calls the iPad a lifesaver.

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To all of you who contributed to our end-of-year fundraising drive, remember this smile. All that Mykenzi had to endure that day, and in the days to come, was made a bit easier…thanks to your generosity!

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To donate to Team Summer, click here!

Posted in January 2016 | Leave a comment


2015: What a Year! | Team Summer

Dear Friends of Team Summer,

As this year comes to a close, all of us at Team Summer feel an enormous sense of gratitude. It has been our honor to carry on the legacy of Summer Dale, who found her purpose in life helping other kids with cancer.

We could not do what we do without you, and we have big plans for 2016! Our goal is to raise $50,000 so we can triple the number of kids that Team Summer reaches. We are moving into Florida to help kids with cancer there. And we just hired our first paid staffer to help us manage all this!

If you are planning any end-of-year, tax-deductible giving, please consider donating to Team Summer by clicking here.

Our program continues what Summer started. We encourage kids with cancer to reach out to each other by giving special, surprise gifts that will either cheer up or distract them from their difficult treatments. Because of your donations this year…

  • A girl with Ewing’s sarcoma gave another girl with Ewing’s sarcoma an unforgettable three-day trip to Blue Ridge, GA!

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  • A boy who had battled leukemia (and won!) gave another boy – still in the trenches with the same disease – something he had always wanted: an X-Box One gaming system!

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  • A girl with a brain tumor gave a girl with osteosarcoma a giant dollhouse and a bald American Girl doll that “looks just like me!”

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In addition to other gifts, your generosity also made it possible for two girls – one with optic nerve cancer and the other with a brain tumor – to get the canine companions they had always dreamed of – puppies!



I wish you could all be there to see the kids’ faces light up when they get their Team Summer gifts! For me, the best part is watching the child giving the gift. After months, sometimes years, of feeling helpless and trapped, these kids are wearing expressions of confidence. Instead of looking inward, they are looking outward. Helping a fellow kid with cancer gives them a sense of purpose, just as it did Summer.

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We so appreciate anything you can contribute. Your funds will surely help brighten the days of kids battling cancer! Click here to donate.

Much love,

Lynne Dale


Team Summer is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, non-profit organization. Donations are tax-deductible.

Posted in December 2015 | Leave a comment


Katelyn Meets Kayla! | Team Summer

Katelyn - Team Summer

Up until about a year ago, 12-year old Katelyn’s life was pretty normal. She loved the outdoors, climbing trees, and drawing dinosaurs. Then some strange things started happening. She could not seem to walk in a straight line and she kept falling down. Doctors told her mom it was just the flu, but the symptoms persisted. Finally this past March, doctors ordered scans of Katelyn’s head and found the problem. A brain tumor. It was cancer.

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From then on, Katelyn’s life was anything but normal. Immediately, she went into surgery and then spent the next 90 days in intensive care. Complications, including a staph infection, led to blindness and an inability to walk.  She has endured weeks of radiation and chemotherapy. She is just now starting to talk a bit and hold her head up.

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Enter Team Summer kid Kayla! Kayla battled a brain tumor, too, so she could really relate to all that Katelyn has been going through. Kayla wanted her to know that she was not alone by making her a Team Summer kid!

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But dreaming up a Team Summer gift wasn’t easy, since there is very little Katelyn can do right now. Her mom suggested we focus on things she can feel with her hands and mentioned that Katelyn likes Legos. And she told us about how Katelyn has been obsessed with dinosaurs since she was a little girl. She even likes to roar like a dinosaur to scare the nurses who check on her at night!

So guess what? Legos makes dinosaur Legos! Perfect!

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But what else could bring some lightness to Katelyn’s darkened world? We had everyone at Team Summer working on this. Before long, three things were added to Katelyn’s gift. Kayla remembered a present her sister got once – kinetic sand. It’s the stuff that you can mold and shape with your hands but never make a mess. Great! Then a friend of  Team Summer donated some clay so Katelyn could make shapes, and also offered to have her creations fired in a kiln and glazed. Best of all, we arranged for Katelyn to get her very own personalized tour of the Museum of Design Atlanta, focusing on things she can touch!

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When Katelyn opened her Team Summer gifts, she was very excited! And she immediately embraced the idea of Team Summer, coming up with two kids with cancer she wanted to give gifts to.

Then she did something that surprised everyone. She reached out, took Kayla’s hand, and said softly, “I love you.” Right there – that outstretched hand – that is the very heart, the whole purpose of Team Summer. We love you, too, Katelyn!

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All our gifts are made possible through your generous donations! Click here to make your tax-deductible donation to Team Summer.

Many thanks to photographer Pam Doughty for the great pictures!

Posted in December 2015 | Leave a comment


Tyler’s Fraternity Rocks! | Team Summer


Remember this guy?! Tyler has been with Team Summer from the beginning. While battling his own sarcoma cancer, he was one of Summer’s closest friends. Their relationship exemplified the bond between two kids with cancer, and helped Summer recognize that kids with cancer need each other for support.

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Thankfully, Tyler beat his cancer. He’s now a senior at Stetson University in Deland, Florida and is president of his fraternity, Phi Sigma Kappa. A few weeks ago, Team Summer got an email from one of his fraternity brothers.

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The brother, Dennis, called Tyler “a shining example of an all-star human being” and said their fraternity wanted to surprise Tyler with a big fundraiser in his honor to benefit Team Summer! And since Tyler (and Lacey!) surprised Summer in Houston after her brain surgery…


…we thought it only fitting that we surprise Tyler back! Summer’s mom, Lynne Dale, and photographer Brenda Richterkessing hit the road, making the seven-hour drive to Deland so they could be there the night Tyler’s fraternity revealed its plan to him. Tyler’s brothers snuck them into the meeting, and he was blown away!

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Lynne told them all about Summer, Team Summer, and the kids battling cancer they’ll be fighting for.

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The fraternity’s fundraiser is planned for this coming spring. Dennis, you are awesome for getting this ball rolling!

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Stay tuned to see what this band of brothers can do! They’ve all got their Team Summer wristbands on now! Go Phi Sigma Kappa!!!

Team Summer

Posted in December 2015 | Leave a comment


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!