When you hear the word cancer, you get that odd feeling in your gut. When you hear about children with cancer or blood disorders, you want to weep. Most of these kids, though, just want a “kid’s” life filled with family, love, and lots of fun. That’s what we set out to do in Southwest Florida on April 17th.
My husband and I, with materials donation from my company, spent the day at Pine Lakes Country Club’s Annual Day of Sharing for Candlelighters’ Families and Friends. It was a Saturday jam-packed with food, games, arts and crafts, golf, fishing, tennis, shuffle board, face painting and even motorcylce rides with the Blue Knights. To top it all off, Ronald McDonald made a special appearance.
Joe and I ran the Button Station, whereas kids and parents could have their pictures taken and made into a 2-1/4″ pin-backed button. This was our third year shooting, printing and pressing on-the-fly, and we wouldn’t trade a day like this for anything. The kids just love having pictures taken with their siblings and friends, and they promptly wore the buttons, then rounded up more friends and came back for more. Parents alike wanted buttons sporting their children, and a few moms held up purses donning the pins they had made previous years.
No limits were imposed – anyone could have as many pictures taken and buttons as they wanted, and at the end of the day, long after the last kids left, we were still printing and pressing. Fortunately, the awesome lady behind the Southwest Florida Candlelighters was able to take the rest home to deliver to families at future events.
There’s good reason we participate in this Day of Sharing. First, and foremost, we think it’s our responsibility to find ways to give back. We know that for many of these families, with the extraordinary costs of treatment and, often, one parent staying home, it’s difficult to find the means to take vacations or even go to the fair. For some children, events via Candlelighters are the spotlights. This day is truly about fun! The words cancer or disorder is never spoken this day – not by the Pine Lakes community effort.
As much fun as we always have hanging out with tons of truly remarkable kids, it’s still difficult to know that days like this even need to exist. As long as they do, we want to be a part of them.
Candlelighters’ of Southwest Florida is a local affiliate of the Candlighters Childhood Cancer Foundation (CCCF), which supports families of children with cancer and blood disorders in various ways. If you’re looking to get involved with community efforts, they’re a great way to make a difference in many families’ lives. Check to see if there’s a local affiliate in your area.