My SAM Story

Tonya

Tonya

My heart was forever changed on November 20, 2017, when I had the awesome opportunity to tour Children’s of Alabama. I was expecting to see lots of kids. I didn’t see one. But what I saw was a MOM, carrying her Thanksgiving meal on a hospital tray, on her way to her child’s room. From a distance she seemed downcast but as soon as she saw one of our SAM staff members, she lit up. It’s the same joy I’ve seen on the kids’ faces. In the midst of their pain, these families find hope and so much love from our staff. I saw myself. I imagined what it might be like to be a mom having to watch your child battle cancer. I thought about how moms and dads and siblings and the children going through the cancer journey must fight…every single day….they fight…and I decided I wanted to help them fight…I wanted to do my part to make a difference.

I joined the SAM team in March as the Regional Development Coordinator for the Auburn/Opelika area. The last ten months have been truly special. We have created an advisory council in Auburn, made significant relationships, held events to raise awareness and have raised over $200,000. I remember something Coach Bruce Pearl once said…”In order to truly appreciate something, imagine it doesn’t exist.” I tried to imagine SAM not existing. I thought of the many conversations with families who have been impacted by Smile-A-Mile. I thought about the numerous summer camps and hospital visits. The college scholarships. The hugs and smiles that these kids receive daily from our staff. Thank God SAM does exist and is forever changing the lives of children and families going through the cancer journey! And thank God I get to be a part of it.