Jackson Plays Games! | Team Summer

Jackson had a rough entry into this world. He was born very prematurely – 25 weeks – and weighed only 1 pound, 8 ounces. But he proved he was a fighter back then, and now at 14, he has had to prove he’s a fighter again. A year ago last February, he started having chronic sinus infections and sounded very stuffy when he talked. And something else odd: he started snoring. Loudly.

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After a bunch of appointments and tests, doctors told his parents that it could be nasopharyngeal carcinoma. This was a stunning diagnosis, especially given that another boy about the same age, living in the same county, had recently been diagnosed with the same rare disease. Guess who it was? Team Summer kid Eli (in the red shirt below)!

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Remember, he’s the one who got the gigantic paddle board from Team Summer kid Chandler. It was rare enough to have one kid with this diagnosis, but two?

Jackson’s mother told us that when the families met at the hospital, their friendship meant so much to them because she had “so many questions and an overwhelming amount of fear.” It turns out that Jackson’s cancer was later re-diagnosed as a form of lymphoma. But the boys were already bonded in their fight.

Once Eli had become a Team Summer kid, he knew right away that he wanted to make Jackson one, too! Because all Team Summer gifts are a surprise, Jackson had no idea what Eli was planning!

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But he did notice that Eli had a gift tucked under his arm!

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Every kid with cancer faces days cooped up in the hospital with nothing to do. But when Jackson opened Eli’s gift, he knew it would help with hospital boredom a lot! A Playstation 4!

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Eli also got him the video game Call of Duty and a controller. Jackson can now play games online remotely with his friends. As a kid who has gone through cancer treatements himself, Eli knows how important it is to be able to stay in touch with your friends while you are sick. And maybe, if you are lucky, you might even forget you have cancer for awhile.

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Recently, Jackson got some GREAT news! After multiple rounds of chemo, he has gotten a clean bill of health! And he just started his freshman year of high school. In the picture below, he’s with his sister headed off for the first day. See how his hair is already growing back?? Have a wonderful year, Jackson!

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Many thanks to those of you who donate to Team Summer and make gifts like Jackson’s possible. You are really making a difference in these kids’ lives!

And a special thanks to photographer Katie Atwell for taking these great pics! We so appreciate you!!!

Posted in August 2016 | Leave a comment


Makala Can FaceTime! | Team Summer

Eight-year-old Makala has a lot of experience at something no one should have to go through. She was only four years old when she was first diagnosed with leukemia, which means that she has been battling the disease half her life. She has logged more hospital hours than anyone could count. No child should know how to walk while dragging an IV pole, but Makala is a pro.

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We knew that Makala got bored in the hospital and missed her family. So Team Summer kid Kayla, who battled a brain tumor herself, decided to do something about it! She surprised Makala at her house one day and read her the Team Summer welcome letter.

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Makala’s mom knew what was going on, but Makala didn’t know what to think!

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Then Kalya handed her a gift bag.

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She could hardly believe it! Her very own iPad! Plus a case to keep it safe! She had used the hospital’s iPad every chance she could, but having one of her own meant the world to her. Besides playing games and watching movies, she would finally be able to FaceTime her family back home any time she wanted!

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And Kayla’s timing could not have been better. Makala was headed back to the hospital for yet another very long round of treatment. This time, she was bringing something with her that made her smile!

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Thanks so much to all of you who donate to Team Summer. Your generosity added a beautiful ray of sunshine into this little girl’s challenging life.

And many thanks to John Glenn for volunteering his talents and taking these fabulous pictures!

Posted in August 2016 | Leave a comment


Off to the Beach! | Team Summer

All of our Team Summer kids have been through a lot in their battles with cancer. But you’d be hard-pressed to find any kid who has been through as much as 19-year-old Ansley. She’s been at this cancer thing since she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when she was just two years old…and she has been fighting cancer ever since.

Here’s a partial list of the treatments she has endured to date: multiple rounds of high-dose chemotherapy, conventional radiation, MIGB radiation that injects radioactive fluid directly into the bloodstream, surgery to remove a rib, and two stem-cell transplants.

All this and she still has her beautiful smile!

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Team Summer kid Sarah, now 19, knows quite a bit about long battles with cancer. She’s been at it for seven years now. You may remember Sarah from her fun trip to Blue Ridge to pick peaches, a gift from Team Summer kid Maddie.

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When Ansley and Sarah’s paths crossed during cancer treatments last year, it was as if they already knew each other. Put them together and you have two incredible cancer warriors!

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Sarah knew how much her Blue Ridge trip had meant to her and now she wanted to give Ansley the same kind of gift. She found out that Ansley had been bugging and bugging her parents to take her to the beach. That’s all we needed to know and our fabulous Team Summer volunteers went to work!

On the big day of Ansley’s surprise, she thought she and her mom were just meeting Sarah and her mom for dinner. But then Sarah started reading her the Team Summer Welcome Letter, and Ansley knew something was up!

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Sarah brought out an easel and pulled back the purple cover!

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Ansley was going to the beach…exactly what she had wanted!! And this was not just any trip to the beach!

The trip included four nights at this incredible home, donated by Cheryl and Parker Hix (thank you!!). It sits right smack on the beach of Florida’s gulf shores!

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But that wasn’t all! We threw in some gas money to get there – donated by the wonderful Chuck Allen at Charles Allen Shell in Atlanta!

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And a gift certificate for pampering at a spa!

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Then we added some more gift certificates to some great restaurants in the area!

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And what would a trip to the beach be without a little spending money??

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What was so special about this moment was that it was hard to tell who was more excited – the girl getting the gift or the girl giving the gift!

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And about a week later, off Ansley went… along with her mom, dad, sister and best friend Rachel! By all accounts, they had the MOST amazing time, playing on the beach (that’s Rachel carrying Ansley around!)…

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….clowning around (!) …

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…and just hanging out together!

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Most of all, this gift gave Ansley what she needed most – a chance to get away from cancer for awhile and be a normal kid. And that’s exactly what a Team Summer gift is all about!

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Many thanks to all of you who donated to Team Summer to make this gift possible! Ansley is already dreaming up gifts for the kids with cancer she wants to help! Can you help make those gifts happen?

Posted in June 2016 | 1 Comment


One Response to “Off to the Beach! | Team Summer”
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  1. Annie Ball

    Another fabulous Team Summer gift! I love the part about the kids giving another kid the gift– what a great tradition Summer set in motion! And how lovely that her spirit of giving lives on in all these gifts given to great kids. Thanks Team Summer supporters for all your hard work!


Eli on the Water! | Team Summer

Eli has always wanted to be on the water. When he was younger, his dad took him out. As he got older, he ventured out on his own with friends. Most teenagers are obsessed with high speeds. But not Eli, although he’s very good on a jet ski. He prefers the calmer, quieter ride of a paddle board. It’s kind of like a kayak, but the board is flat and you stand up on it. Eli says it’s relaxing. And given what’s happened to him this last year, Eli needs all the relaxing he can get.

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It took doctors awhile to figure out what was behind his constant headaches. When they finally did figure it out, the news stunned everyone: nasopharyngeal carcinoma – an extremely rare form of cancer in the nose and throat…so rare that Eli had the distinction of being the only teenager in the country diagnosed with that disease at stage 4.

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Eli had to drop out of the 7th grade a year ago last March and be home schooled for the rest of the school year. And what should have been a fun summer out on the water was instead months of chemotherapy and radiation. Unable to eat, Eli had to have a feeding tube and dropped down to just 92 lbs.

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One day when Eli was getting a chemotherapy infusion at the clinic, he met a 7-year-old boy a few chairs down who was getting an infusion too. They really did not say much that day, but they did figure out that they were from the same town in Georgia. Guess who the 7-year-old was? Our very own Team Summer kid Chandler! Except he wasn’t a Team Summer kid YET. A few months later, Team Summer kid Addi gave him his very own puppy! Then it was Chandler’s turn to give a gift, and he remembered the older boy from the clinic. He could not wait to surprise him!

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After practicing until he had it perfect, Chandler carefully read Eli the Team Summer letter. Then it was time to take him to his gift. Here’s a hint: we could NOT hide it in the house. In fact, even the big tarp we brought did not quite cover it!

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But Eli knew exactly what it was just from the shape!  The paddle board of his dreams – a YOLOBoard! YOLO stands for “You Only Live Once (Make it Count),” and Eli says that is his personal philosophy.

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Up til now, Eli had always had to rent a paddle board. Now, he had one of his very own! Chandler handed him the paddle.  Eli seemed so excited we thought he might  paddle away right then and there!

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Eli spent a little time explaining the finer points of paddle boarding to Chandler, and a new fan was born!

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And if you were wondering how tall these things are, here’s a little perspective! Geez Louise!

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The best news of all is that Eli recently got his feeding tube out and can go out on the water again. Eli is BACK, happily paddling around this summer on his YOLOBoard!

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Interestingly enough, another boy in Eli’s same area was recently diagnosed with the same, extremely rare form of cancer. Before we even left Eli’s house that day, he told us he wanted to get the boy a Team Summer gift! Stay tuned for that story…

All gifts are made possible only through your donations! Thank you for your support!

Posted in June 2016 | 1 Comment


One Response to “Eli on the Water! | Team Summer”
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  1. Angela Powell

    Yes, Eli is such a thoughtful young man. Jack was diagnosed with the same rare cancer as Eli but after the biopsy it turned out to be B-Cell Lymphoma. None the less not anything we wanted to hear. When I met Eli and his mother we were already down at CHOA. So many questions and an overwhelming amount of fear. I can’t express how thankful I am for the chance to be involved now. His gift suited him and I can’t wait to see all the pictures to come!

    Thanks Carol Ann and Eli for making Jack’s road to remission much more tolerable.

    Angela Powell


Olivia Gets Her Wish! | Team Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in May 2016 | 1 Comment


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted in April 2016 | Leave a comment


Jumping for Grant! | Team Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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Grant followed each clue to the next…

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

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

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A trampoline!!!

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Just perfect for jumping! And big enough for everybody!

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

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

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

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

Posted in March 2016 | Leave a comment


A Home of Her Own! | Team Summer

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

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

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

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It’s Maylee’s very own little house!

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

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And a blue front door that really works…

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

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

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

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

Maylee Sleeping in her House

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

Posted in March 2016 | Leave a comment


Build a Bear! | Team Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted in March 2016 | 1 Comment


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

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


Happy Birthday, Sarah! | Team Summer

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

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


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

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

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Posted in February 2016 | Leave a comment