My first camp session was in 2002. I had been diagnosed just under a year prior and it was the first time in about a year that I took a breath without thinking about cancer. It’s hard because, “kid with cancer,” is an oxymoron. Cancer takes away your childhood, sometimes by taking your life, and other times by taking away the experiences you would have had if you would have been healthy. Smile-A-Mile’s camp sessions gave back to me what cancer had taken, and then some. I got the chance to be a kid and have friends who understood and encouraged me. I got a lifelong family that I can (and do) call on to this day. I have never missed a summer.
When I was finally old enough to volunteer I was so excited to be able to give back to this organization that had given me so much. It’s crazy how that works, though, I can’t give anything to Smile-A-Mile without receiving more in return. The kids you get to know and love, learn from and learn with, they are worth far more than gold. The staff and volunteers are so full of love and have their hearts in the right place. There are so many worthy causes to donate time and money to, but Smile-A-Mile has my heart. ♥️