My Smile-A-Mile story started while I was a student at Auburn University. I volunteered at two camp sessions my first summer and was not prepared for the impact Smile-A-Mile was going to have on my life. In the Fall of 2015, I started an internship and quickly realized there was much more to SAM than summer camp sessions. I learned about the other year-round programs as well as what all the staff accomplishes in a year to raise the funds needed to keep dreaming big for the families they serve.
During my internship I helped with the Hospital Outreach Program, which takes place on the Hematology/Oncology floor and outpatient clinic at Children’s of Alabama. I could see the impact SAM had on patients and families in the hospital through their excitement and anticipation for HOP each week. Kellie and Madison not only provide fun activities, they also create an environment for patients, siblings and parents to make connections with other patients, siblings and parents that help make their cancer journey seem a little less lonely. From those first months as an intern to the past four years working for Smile-A-Mile, I’ve only kept learning the various ways SAM impacts the patients and families during their cancer journey.
Childhood cancer is something that I am aware of every day of every month and not just in the month of September. And let me tell you about these kids. They are resilient. They have taught me what it looks like to be joyful in the midst of heartache and how to find light amongst such darkness. However, they are also kids that don’t always get to act like kids. So until there’s a cure, I’m thankful Smile-A-Mile works hard to provide opportunities for kids to act like kids!