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Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

A 30 Year Golf Legacy

Thirty years is a long time for anything to last. In order to survive three decades, there must be a strong foundation, hard work, and ample amounts of dedication. The Golf Classic benefiting CURE Childhood Cancer has plenty of all three. Its rich history has endured and continued to grow since the first event in 1989.

Over 30 years, thousands of golfers have taken to the Oaks Golf Course in Covington, hundreds of sponsors have joined the cause, and the Golf Classic t has raised more than $2 million to fight childhood cancer.

“It takes a lot of work last this long and raise that amount,” said Joe Coleman, one of the founders of the Golf Classic and the tournament’s driving force. “This cause is critically important, and I’m so thrilled that we have loyal sponsors and players that support this tournament year after year. We raise funds for CURE because the ultimate gift to a child or a family that has experienced pediatric cancer is a cure.”

Joe’s daughter, Shannon, was diagnosed with leukemia when she was two years old. At the time, there was only a 50% chance of her survival, but Shannon beat the odds and is now a happy mother to two children. Joe joined the CURE Board of Directors during Shannon’s treatment and served more than 25 years. He currently serves on the Advisory Council.

The first tournament largely attracted the transportation industry, where Joe makes his career. Since that time, it has expanded greatly, and new friends join every year. But the spirit of the event brings people back. Many of the players have played for years, and some have played since the very first event. Loyal donors, sponsors, and volunteers line up to be a part of this special day year after year. While they always rave about how much fun they have, every golfer knows that finding a cure for cancer is the goal.

“Everyone knows we are playing for a great cause,” Joe said. “But we also work hard to make it fun. That’s a recipe that keeps people coming back.”

Over the years, the tournament has spawned some interesting side-stories. There are three 99-year-old golfers who join the fray every year. One is Joe’s father. The other two are twins: Jennings and James Watkins. This year, the twins were as excited as teenagers as they came to the green with a chance to putt for an eagle. Another foursome boasts Joe and Jessie Tallant, a married couple who met while they were in treatment for childhood cancer.

This year’s Golf Classic raised an amazing $90,000 for CURE, and Joe is very thankful for all those involved.

“We are grateful for our many sponsors, volunteers, The Oaks Golf Course for their many years of support, and to our meal sponsors – QuikTrip, Chick-fil-A, and Bradley’s BBQ,” said Joe. “I’d also like to recognize my wife, Julie who works so hard every year.”

Gold Bows Make a Big Difference

Do you ever wonder if as one person, you can really make a difference?  Anna Tobolski felt that way as she looked for a way to honor her niece, Emma. Here is Emma’s story in her aunt’s words:

Emma was born in 2004. She had strawberry blonde hair, and the biggest blue eyes; as she got older, those very eyes would give her away when she was being mischievous. At 12, she was learning French and already studying for the SAT – she wanted to be a lawyer when she grew up. Emma was awarded a full scholarship to a private girls’ school in England. They were just getting settled over there, when Emma fell one day and hurt her hip. She kept complaining of pain, but the doctors kept assuring my sister that it was just soreness from her fall and would eventually get better.

After several months of increasing pain, the doctors finally conceded to giving her an MRI – and discovered the cancerous tumor on her hip. Five days later, after emergency chemo, we were invited into a small room with her doctors – that conference will forever be ingrained in my memory.

We were told the tumor had begun in her pelvic area, and had already metastasized to both hips, femurs, spine and colon. It was stage 4 multifocal osteosarcoma – bone cancer of the worst kind in the worst place. The words uttered were completely incomprehensible…

“Palliative not curative, there is no treatment, months at best”

How could a healthy-looking child with a hip complaint be months from dying? In a total of four short months, she went from an advanced healthy student to losing all independence – she lost the ability to walk, then sit up, then arm movement. She lost her vision, and the ability to talk to us – we couldn’t touch or hold her because the pain in her bones was too great, so sweet head rubs became our coveted interaction.

With all of that in mind, it would be easy to imagine that Emma grew bitter or angry about the cards she had been dealt but that wasn’t the case. Despite her suffering, her amazing strength always shined through…the days before her death, she was wearing her favorite t-shirt: the front says “Blessed” and the back read Ps. 31:25 “She is clothed in dignity and strength.” That was our Emma.

We lost her on June 28th, 2017, just four months after her diagnosis.

 

As she grieved the loss of her niece, Anna knew she needed to do something to honor Emma’s memory but wondered if her efforts would really make a meaningful difference.

Last September, Anna decided to bring CURE’s Gold Bow mailbox campaign to Dawsonville. The campaign is simple – large gold bows are purchased by neighborhoods and business owners and are placed on mailboxes to help spread awareness and raise money to fund critical research for children fighting cancer.

Anna sent out an email to the homeowners in her neighborhood and solicited local businesses to put the bows out. She even ordered extras for places like city hall and the local public schools to display. Her goal was to sell 100 bows and, consequently, show that Dawsonville cares about children with cancer. Anna surpassed her goal, selling 175 mailbox bows by the time she was through.

“Sometimes I wondered if all the time spent on this campaign would really make a difference – what can a gold bow really do?” Anna said. “But I came to realize that if a gold bow makes an impact on one person it was totally worth every tear and minute spent. In the grand scheme 175 bows isn’t a lot, but it’s a great start and I know I can do even better next year.”

Anna’s efforts absolutely have an impact. Combined with others across the state, mailbox bows raised more than $70,000 in 2018.

“With the money raised through gold bow sales, we were able to pay for 14 children who had relapsed to undergo genetic testing in hopes of identifying drugs that would work for them,” explained Kristin Connor, CURE’s Executive Director. “Without this, these children would have had very few options available to them. Do efforts to sell gold bows make a difference? Ask those 14 children and their families!”

There is still time to get a gold bow for your mailbox and make a difference for kids fighting cancer.

Click the button below to order yours today.

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Gold-out Games for CURE

Today’s high school and college students fall into a new classification called Generation Z. As they enter the workforce, this generation is proving to possess a big passion for social change. They want to make a difference. With September coming close, a Gold-Out Game is the perfect way to allow them to support an important cause.

That’s what Lauren Howell found. Her son, Liam, was born with a tumor on his spine and, after treatment, has been a survivor for eleven years. While teaching at Flowery Branch High School, she looked for a way to get students involved and created a framework any school can use to raise money for childhood cancer research.

“It all starts with a story,” Lauren said. “Almost every high school will have a survivor or student fighting cancer. They just need to be willing to share it. Kids want to be a part of doing something good and channeling their energy into helping fight childhood cancer is great for the students and the school.”

Lauren facilitates her Peer Leadership class as they go through the process of planning and executing their Gold Out Game. She points to three things that have helped Flowery Branch succeed:

  1. Turn the campus gold with balloons, signs, t-shirts, etc. Every game has a theme – ask the kids to wear gold and promote competitions between classes.
  2. Make it personal. Identify local children and if they are willing, share their stories through pictures, signs, and bring them on the field for special recognition if possible.
  3. Get feeder schools involved. Middle and elementary schools love to participate in such events.

The key is to start early and plan. Even if you don’t have a class to take on the project, a small group of properly motivated student leaders can drive great results.

Would you like to start a gold-out game at your high school? Our High School Toolkit has all the tools you will need for your school’s September gold-out game! From posters and stickers you can print to childhood cancer facts for half-time announcements, these items will make your September plans special and impactful. Click HERE to get started.

Lightning Strikes Twice

The similarities between a thunderstorm and childhood cancer are striking. They both come suddenly, wreak havoc, and can leave a trail of destruction behind them. While we know that it is very rare for lightening to strike twice in the same place, it isn’t impossible. Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela averages 28 lightning strikes a minute during the driest part of the year. Imagine how many times it hits the same place there! Since childhood cancer is considered as rare as a lightning strike, most people won’t ever face this fight once. Shockingly, Alyssa Barton got struck twice.

Her first fight began when her daughter, Maia, started experiencing random pains, losing weight, and began having trouble breathing. After she collapsed at home, Alyssa found the answer to Maia’s symptoms in the emergency room: b-cell leukemia.

“There were bumps in her treatment at first.” Alyssa recalled. “She had to relearn how to walk due to severe pain in her body and she was in physical therapy for months. But after that she was a textbook patient. She was rarely in the hospital and got to go to school every day.”

Maia remembers the road being a long one, but she’s made it to the other side. She is now twenty-one and ready to start her senior year at the University of Colorado.

“My cancer story seemed ordinary through my eyes,” Maia explained. “But last August I found out that my sister, Ariana, was diagnosed with leukemia as well. That makes my story a little different.”

Ariana’s path to diagnosis was quite different than her sister’s. She began noticing excessive bruising on her legs. Her wellness physical showed nothing abnormal, but the bruising persisted. She was about to go on a trip to Israel when Alyssa saw her legs and scheduled a quick doctor’s appointment to check things out before leaving. That is when she learned that cancer had indeed struck again.

“Nothing presented the same way as Maia’s cancer,” said Alyssa. “So I never expected to be back on the oncology floor again. I thought it might be mono, but cancer was the last thing on my radar.”

Ariana’s treatment experience has been the exact opposite of Maia’s. She has had prolonged hospital stays, experienced sickness and nausea, and had several complications. She has suffered emotionally as watched all of her friends leave for college while she had to stay at home and defer her freshman year. She’s doing better now and has managed to find a silver lining in it all.

“My silver lining is defined by the unbreakable bond I developed with my parents as we grew even closer during this past year,” she shared. “I realized I loved them more than anything in the world. I have also found a confidence in myself that I never knew I had.”

Ariana still has over a year of treatment remaining, but she will be doing it in Colorado with her sister as she starts the freshman year that cancer delayed. She’s ready to go and excited about what the future holds. Both of these amazing young ladies have fought their cancers and have now decided to fight for other children through September’s CURE’s Kids Fight Cancer One Day at a Time. Each sister wrote her own story to share in the hopes of raising money to fund better cures for children with cancer. The entire family is committed to making a difference in the fight.

“Watching your child go through cancer treatment changes you and watching two of them changes you forever,” Alyssa said. “In this day and age, there should be better treatments. There just should. We’re talking about our kids and we need to step up and take care of them.”

CURE believes that also. Every day in September we will be sharing stories of amazing heroes like Ariana and Maia with the hopes of raising awareness of the issues and raising money to fund the research that will make a difference for all children. Will you make it a point to join us and read to these stories? Together we can make a difference in the lives of children.

Businesses Go Gold for CURE

Ralph Black knows a thing or two about washing cars. He also knows about pediatric cancer because he’s been there with his son, Trey. Trey was born with a rare genetic disorder called MSUD, which inhibits his body’s ability to process proteins. The first year of Trey’s life was filled with doctors, hospitals, and more than a couple brushes with death.

But as things finally began to stabilize, Trey was diagnosed with leukemia. Because he was the first known case of a child having MSUD and cancer, doctors didn’t know exactly how to treat him.

“There was a balancing act,” Ralph said. “He had a terrible reaction to chemo at the start, and we thought we were going to lose him. Slowly, the doctors figured out how to give him enough chemo to treat the cancer without it being too much for his system. But we stayed in the hospital for four long months in the beginning.”

Trey finally got to remission and slowly started to grow up and get healthy. But his treatment has led to challenges. Their family’s experience with cancer would impact Ralph as he built his car wash.

“I always wanted to give back, and CURE was the perfect way,” explained Ralph. “We were there. We know how hard childhood cancer is on a family. While finding a cure for the disease is critical, helping families is important
to us, and CURE does that.”

Grand Slam Car Wash in Cumming donates a portion of the proceeds of their Tomahawk Lava Shield Wash  to CURE. They have also sponsored CURE events and will Go Gold with CURE in September. They encourage other businesses to get on board this September and share this important issue – children fighting cancer – with customers and employees. It’s good for business, and it’s good for kids with cancer.

If you would like more information about how your business can make a difference for kids fighting cancer, you can email Hannah McIntosh or fill out the form below. We would love to work with you.

Support CURE in September

All over the country, hundreds of businesses and schools host Gold Out events, spirit nights, denim days, percentage nights, and many other fundraisers to support CURE in September. It’s never too early to start planning a September fundraiser. CURE’s commitment to our community is to help you publicize your event to maximize its impact. If you would like more information or have an idea you would like to pursue, please contact us through the form below:

A September to Remember

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and a month of continuous action for CURE. There are so many components that our staff, partners, and volunteers stay busy all thirty days. We loved the constant events and activities and watching so many people get involved. You have been a big part of September’s success! We would like to share a little of what you did for children fighting cancer.

CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time

Each day in September, CURE shared the unique stories of children who have been diagnosed with cancer. At the same time, these brave families fight back, setting a goal to raise at least $1000 to support life-saving pediatric cancer research. This year the families of 129 children shared their stories and raised more than $292,000. Wow! What an impact that will have!

 

 

A Tribute to our Quiet Heroes

The 14th Annual A Tribute to Our Quiet Heroes was an amazing, inspiring day. Among the 600 in attendance at this very special luncheon were our honored guests – 250 mothers who have guided their family through the unimaginable journey of childhood cancer. Pediatric oncologist and theology professor, Dr. Ray Barfield shared a keynote message from the unique perspective of a career spent fighting right alongside mothers like our guests in hopes of saving the lives of their children. His compassion and understanding set a special tone for the mothers and guests. The event not only encouraged everyone in the room, it raised its highest total ever: more than $470,000 to further CURE’s mission.

 

29th Golf Classic benefiting CURE

The 29th annual Golf Classic was one for the ages. More than 150 golfers teed off at The Oaks Golf Course in Covington on September 28 for an amazing day. The preliminary total of money raised is $75,000 – all benefiting CURE Childhood Cancer.

 

 

Mailbox Bows

All across the state, mailboxes were adorned with this beautiful gold bow. These mailbox bows created awareness for those passing by and solidarity in the fight against childhood cancer as entire neighborhoods went gold. The bows also raised a lot of money. Those CURE tags and gold bows sat atop 3129 mailboxes and generated more than $78,000!

 

 

 

 

Coins4CURE

Coins4CURE is a very simple coin drive fundraiser. Over the past 3 years, more than $200,000 has been raised for CURE Childhood Cancer! This year, 222 people participated in the coin drive. The coins are still being counted, but we anticipate another great total.

 

 

 

Facebook Fundraisers

Your birthday matters! Literally hundreds of people celebrated their September birthdays by creating a Facebook Fundraiser for CURE. The totals for September blew us away! You raised more than $83,000 for CURE!

 

 

 

September Partners

From burgers to cars, hardware to jewelry, coffee, and cupcakes, our September partners stood with us. They held events, donated a portion of proceeds, shared our stories, and even put us on the radio. Their donations are still rolling in, but the benefit of having so many friends in our community is invaluable. Thank you to old friends and new ones who joined us last month.

 

Gold Out Games 

Dozens of games across the state carried a Gold Out message. Many of them also raised money for the fight and all of them raised much-needed awareness of the issues surrounding childhood cancer.

 

 

 

 

September proves that our message is getting out into the community. Whatever part you played, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Whether you think your role was big or small, it is vital to us. These funds raised literally enable us to provide tangible support to patients and families and fund innovative research. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

Moving Awareness to Action

Since it is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, September is a crazy, busy, wonderful month for CURE Childhood Cancer. As we turn the calendar page, we can look back on all of the positive and meaningful things that came out of the month.

Awareness is defined as knowledge or perception of a situation or fact. Of course, the disparity of funding between cancers that affect children and those that affect adults is something that everyone should be aware of. We try to make people aware every day of the year. But if awareness doesn’t lead to action, what is its worth?

Fortunately, when we evaluate September, we see a great deal of tangible evidence that the awareness we created has resonated within our community and moved people to act on behalf of children.

Throughout the state, schools took the initiative to tell children of all ages about cancer facts as they held “Go Gold” days and “Gold Out” games.

 

Not only that, many schools participated in Coins4CURE to teach the children how they can make a difference by putting their coins to work for our cause.

 

One survivor in Statesboro was frustrated because she couldn’t get her school to go gold. Their colors are green and gold, so on their Spirit Day, Anna Hayes declared, “As for me and my house, we will go gold!”

 

Thousands of mailboxes were adorned with gold bows for the entire month. More than a decoration, the gold bows are a declaration of support as neighborhoods came together for children in their community. Several of our gold bows even stood the test of Hurricane Irma!

 

From cupcakes to hardware, jewelry to dining, dozens of businesses joined us in September by using their own messaging and products to reach their customers with our mission. Generous partners such as Muse Salon donated their services to benefit CURE. We are grateful for the support of each and every partner.

 

We told their stories. 112 families entrusted us with their children’s stories and we shared them during our CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time. These stories are real pictures into the reality of a child forced to fight a cancer diagnosis. Some were heartbreaking and others uplifting, but the common thread was a need for action. People’s hearts were moved by reading these stories and they donated in the hopes of changing the story for children yet to be diagnosed.

 

A Tribute to Our Quiet Heroes brought together over 500 attendees – including 250 mothers who have steered their family through the distress of a cancer diagnosis. Three speakers well-acquainted with childhood cancer gave unique perspectives to the theme of Hope Endures and offered hope to all those listening – wherever they might be in their journey. This beautiful event not only encouraged the quiet heroes in attendance, it raised $400,000 to further our mission.

The day’s event is not measured in amounts, however. Our goal is to honor mothers and we knew it was a success when we got this email from a new Quiet Hero.

“Words cannot express the wide range of emotions that took over my mind and thoughts during the Quiet Heroes event today. My 14 year-old athletic son was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma 2 months ago. Needless to say, I was very conflicted over whether to attend the event at all. Attending the event meant I would actually have to admit that I am part of a club that I never asked and never wanted to be a part of; the mother of a child with cancer.” 

 

Yes, September was busy. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Awareness Rocks

When Andy Boone had find an organization to support to complete the requirements for his citizenship in the community merit badge, the decision wasn’t difficult. After watching his older sister, Abby, fight leukemia, he knew that CURE Childhood Cancer was the choice.

Although he was only six years-old when she was diagnosed, Andy remembers some specific things from her time in treatment. He vividly recalls rushing to get food with his father so that she would have it when her sedation was finished. He also remembers spending the night in the hospital with her and the coconut water she needed for recovery. And he is very glad to report that she is doing well now.

But Andy and his family didn’t leave cancer in the rearview mirror. They actively work with CURE to raise money for research and support other families who are going through treatment. This work has given Andy a keen awareness of the issues related to childhood cancer and its lack of funding.

With those issues in mind, Andy set out to accomplish the tasks necessary to get his badge. This involved eight hours of volunteer work. He has volunteered at the CURE Holiday Party and plans to do so again, but that only fulfilled half of the requirement. So he began to brainstorm about how he could do something to create awareness for childhood cancer. That’s when he landed on awareness rocks.

Since gold is the chosen color of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, he gathered rocks and painted them bright gold. Then he spent an hour researching facts related to childhood cancer so that he could paint those facts on the rocks with the intention of placing them in obvious places where they could be seen by others. His hope was that those people who saw the rocks would take the time to read them and learn the things his family discovered during Abby’s treatment.

Many things he found surprised him. But the fact that stood out the most to Andy was, “Every day 46 kids are diagnosed with cancer.”

When the paint dried, he took all of the rocks and put them near the boat launch at Lake Hartwell because it is such a well-travelled area during the summer. He and his friend hung around the area and just happened to hear some people talking about the rocks and what was written on them. Obviously, his plan to share the facts worked!

Andy wrote up details about his project and submitted it to his troop last Saturday. After he completes his service he will be able to claim his merit badge. Most importantly, with every rock that is read, his project is creating awareness for children fighting cancer.