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Named Funds

The Incredible Progress of Sisters on a Journey

Tre and Jenny Wilkins’ firstborn daughter, Catie, was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer called medullablastoma on her first birthday. During Catie’s journey, the family learned that Tre’s cousin had passed away from the same cancer twenty years prior. To their dismay, there had been no advancement in treatment for medullablastoma in two decades. After a long and hard battle, the Wilkins lost Catie in 2007. After her passing, Tre and Jenny decided that they must do something to try to help improve treatment. They couldn’t bear to think of another twenty years with no improvements in treatment to offer other families. CURE Childhood Cancer had been an organization that was helpful to the Wilkins throughout Catie’s treatment. They liked CURE because not only did CURE fund exclusively pediatric cancer research, but it served patients and families as well, something no other organization in the area was doing at the time. The Wilkins set up a named fund through CURE called Catie’s Fund and committed to raising funds to support CURE’s research grants.

The Wilkins tried fundraising through golf tournaments and sporting events, but they didn’t enjoy hosting those events. In 2009, Jenny and a friend were brainstorming fundraising ideas and decided to try something different. They wanted to solicit women as table hostesses who would invite friends, decorate their table, and enjoy an evening for a great cause. Their idea was to name the event, “Sisters on a Journey,” referring to all the friends, family members, fellow cancer moms, nurses, co-workers, and community members who supported the Wilkins throughout their journey. The first Sisters on a Journey dinner was held in the social hall of a local church. About 150 women attended and raised $5000. Jenny and Tre felt the event was a success and decided to do it again.

Each year since 2009, Sisters on a Journey has experienced significant growth. Jenny Wilkins now has a team of volunteers who serve on a planning committee. Jenny partnered up with Mandy Garola, CURE’s Patient and Family Services Manager in Savannah, in 2014 to replicate the event in Savannah to reach more people. In 2015, more than 120 women committed to hosting tables in Savannah and the original Effingham County location. The table hostesses elaborately decorate their own tables which makes the event fun and unique. Many guests match their dress to their table theme.  Last year, a group of pediatric oncology nurses from Savannah came donned in their 1920’s-inspired attire to match their Gatsby themed table. Both the Savannah and Effingham dinners included a live and silent auction and raised more than $110,000 for Catie’s Fund to fund research.

The event continues to grow, expanding to Statesboro in 2016 and adding a Bryan County event in 2017.

Sisters on a Journey has become something guests look forward to each year. With the help of loyal hostesses and guests, Catie’s Fund has raised more than $500,000 in the past six years. It’s amazing what the vision of one family has inspired.

 

 

The Sam Robb Fund Turns 10

“Larger than Life.” That is how Sam Robb is described by those who knew him. This is fitting not only because of his huge stature, but also because of his gregarious and determined personality. As a sophomore in high school, Sam stood six feet five inches tall and weighed two hundred twenty-five pounds. A natural athlete, his ability in both football and basketball had already piqued some college interest and it was during training that he realized he couldn’t move laterally without pain in his knee.

Assuming this was a sports injury, his family took him to the doctor only to learn that Sam had Osteosarcoma, a childhood bone cancer. Sam tackled treatment just like he would an opponent on the field. When he was finished, he had to step away from his favorite sports but reemerged as a very promising relief pitcher on the baseball diamond. Unfortunately, four years later he noticed that he got winded during exercise and went back to the doctor to find out he had relapsed with a tumor on his lung.

A number of nationally renowned doctors felt the surgery to remove the tumor was life-threatening. Eventually, a brave surgeon agreed with Sam to go for the “long ball” and remove the tumor and a lung. Sam never made it off of the table.

Sam’s fighting spirit didn’t die with him. His family used it to create The Sam Robb Fund.

The Sam Robb Fund does two things equally near and dear to the Robb family. First, the fund supports the Sam Robb Fellow at the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Services of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University School of Medicine. In this way, Sam is able to help train the pediatric oncologists who will serve future cancer patients with the same love and caring attention that he received. His mom, Annamarie, also said that it is special to know they are supporting a young fellow that is about Sam’s age – a potential peer and friend to Sam had he survived. Second, the fund supports CURE’s Open Arms Meal Program. CURE was on the floor serving meals on Sam’s first day of chemo and has been an intricate part of the Robb’s journey ever since.

To fund these goals, Sam’s family has created four events: A golf tournament, a basketball tournament, a color run, and a brewfest. Note the heavy tilt toward sports – a special way to honor Sam’s love of athletic pursuits and his talent. The support and leadership for these events are very organic and grass roots and many of Sam’s friends make it a point to come back annually to participate.

In its ten years, the Sam Robb fund has generated nearly $700,000 to accomplish these goals. CURE is proud to partner with the Robb family to honor Sam’s legacy and work together toward a world free of childhood cancer, where every child can play however they like.

Join us at 9:00am on November 12th as the Centennial High Cross Country Club hosts the first ever Sam Robb Color Run/Walk and festival, with proceeds benefiting The Sam Robb Fund of CURE Childhood Cancer.

And get more information on the upcoming Sam Robb Memorial Basketball Tournament.

 

 

 

He’s Not Here

Moving. Leaving. Exchanging one place for another. Often it is done out of necessity, sometimes done by choice – a new job, new family, or an opportunity to prosper in another place. First comes the decision and then there is the packing. Endless boxes poured over with closets that seemed so small when you lived there, but never seem to have a back wall when you’re forced to clear them out. How many trips to Goodwill could there possibly be in a 2500 square foot house? The answer to that can be a staggering amount.

What do you take and what do you leave?

Most of us have moved at some point. It is a difficult process, to say the least. I have made the request of my family to never make me endure another move. When I go, I just want them to condemn the house and implode the walls around me. It would be easier for all of us that way.

 

Would you ever leave your child behind?

 

You laugh at that.

You are ready to close the browser and stop reading because the question seems preposterous. You say there is no possible way you would do that! You would never leave your child and on the face of it, I see your objection to my question. But I met a woman – a loving mother who was forced to do just that. She moved away from her son.

After a five year sickness that turned into a cancer diagnosis and ended in her son’s death at seven years-old, Stephanie’s life took a number of turns. She left Atlanta and moved further north where no one knew her situation, no one had heard of her son, and nobody spoke his name. His name. Creed. It’s not their fault, they couldn’t have known. Some have learned of her boy and will read about him and comment to her. That is a sweet effort that she always appreciates. But he’s not here. He lived two homes ago and often seems a lifetime away.

Everyone handles loss differently. For some, an escape is necessary. To move forward, they have to move away from the place of pain and that’s okay. There is no right way to grieve – no cookie cutter process or recipe to be followed that will mend a broken heart. Some hearts stay broken.

So how do you adapt? How does one go to a new place and leave their child behind?

“Our guest room is a shrine. I tell people they are welcome to stay but I warn them because I don’t want to freak them out when they see all of his stuff and his pictures on the wall,” she said. “And when the house is quiet and I need him, I go and lay down in his bed.”

 

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Unfortunately, Mom’s like Stephanie aren’t alone. Cancer has caused far too many moms to make a choice to stay or move. She keeps Creed’s memory alive by telling his story and decorating his room. But more importantly, she is working with CURE to fund a cure to childhood cancer so that other moms don’t have to leave their babies behind. Join Stephanie today and contribute to The Creedlove Fund.

The Creedlove Fund provides support to patients undergoing treatment for childhood cancer and their families. Your gift, no matter how large or small will help a family in need.

 

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Introducing CURE’s Newest Believe Fund: Team Alexa Fighting Back

When Alexa Hartenstein earned her “Angel Wings” on February 26, 2015, her family was crushed, to say the least. But her mother was also filled with a sense of inspiration: inspired by her daughter who taught her so many things; inspired to never give up the fight, even when things get hard; inspired to find joy in every day and give back to those who needed it most. And because of Alexa’s fight, we’re honored to introduce CURE’s latest Believe Fund, Team Alexa Fighting Back.

511b0702-1b5c-499a-a5cf-cbadf7f1426cIf ever there was an angel on Earth, you’d find her to be sweet Alexa Lee Hartenstein. She came into the world on March 16, 2009, with the most calm and peaceful personality, which grew with her into childhood. She always had a smile on her face, and she was so full of laughter and joy that it was contagious! Life with Alexa was as normal as life could be until the day her parents heard the words that no one ever dreams they will hear: “Your child has cancer.”

In September 2011, after a month of unexplained vomiting, falling down with every few steps, and many other symptoms, Alexa was diagnosed with a brain tumor – an sPNET, and it was extremely aggressive. It was a parent’s worst nightmare, but somehow Alexa managed to keep a smile through it all! From needle pokes to MRIs, chemo treatments to stem cell transplant, brain surgeries to radiation, Alexa endured more in three and a half years than many of us will face in a lifetime. In December 2015, after learning of her fourth relapse which had taken over her brain and spine, Alexa was moved to hospice care. Even then, her laughter and positive attitude never faded, and she continued to entertain her family and friends with her jokes and endless giggles. Alexa Lee was a fighter, and she showed what fierce determination looked like, right up until the very end. On February 26, 2015, her journey with cancer came to an end, and she earned the most beautiful set of angel wings.

Although Alexa’s life was cut short by cancer, she taught everyone who knew her just what it meant to live. To laugh amidst the worst of storms, and to enjoy every moment, good or bad. To be kind and show compassion to each person you meet, no matter the circumstances. To never give up the fight, even when things get hard. To find joy in every day and give back to those who needed it most.

clinicday1edit-254x300Purpose of the Fund:
Alexa’s family hopes to keep her legacy alive by helping other families who are battling childhood cancer. The Team Alexa Fighting Back fund will support CURE’s ongoing patient and family support programs, such as the Open Arms meal program and Family Emergency Fund.

How To Donate to Team Alexa Fighting Back:
Click here to donate online and choose “Team Alexa Fighting Back” in the Designation section. Your gift will be directed accordingly.

Checks can be made out to CURE Childhood Cancer, with “Team Alexa” written on the notes line. Mail checks to:  CURE Childhood Cancer, 1117 Perimeter Center West, Suite N-402, Atlanta, GA 30338

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