As a news anchor in Louisville, I meet many people. One of those was Brooke Pardue, mother of a 4-year-old fighting rhabdomyosarcoma. His name was Sammy. His beautiful eyes and lips seemed to stand out because the harsh treatment had taken away all his hair. Even his eyebrows were gone. On that day, however, Brooke proudly told me that Sammy was in remission. It’s a day I’ll never forget.
I am blessed to be a part of hundreds of worthwhile events. Norton Children’s Hospital asked me a few years ago to be master of ceremonies for an affair that literally changed my life. I did not know exactly what to expect since this event — Chili’s® Clip for Kids — was the first event of its kind for Norton Children’s Hospital.
I knew children were not exempt from the horrible disease, but my hope was that not many are affected. To my surprise, a large tent was overflowing with children fighting cancer along with their families and friends who were ready to raise funds for a cure. Even the nationally recognized staff from 7 West, the floor that houses cancer patients at Norton Children’s Hospital, shaved their heads and emptied their pockets to work for a cure and expand support for the families they serve.
Since I began my efforts to raise funds for cancer care, Sammy Pardue has died. His cancer had returned. A picture of me with Sammy and Brooke occupies a prominent place in my living room. Unfortunately, many more pictures of children who have died from cancer have been placed around it. I say a prayer each day for them and all other families who are on this journey to defeat cancer.
I have worked with Norton Children’s Hospital every year they’ve asked me, and at any other event that focuses on the needs of children and families facing cancer. Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children and adolescents. Cancer not only devours a child’s body, it also can destroy a family’s bank account, their spirit and their home life. It leaves nothing unaffected.
There’s no way I can understand the pain of a parent who has lost a child to cancer, but what I do understand is the support that’s needed for these children and their families to win the fight. They need our emotional and financial support.
Advocacy is crucial to this victory and so is making sure we have the best of what we need right here at home. I am asking anyone who can join us to get involved by supporting Chili’s Clip for Kids on May 15 at Fourth Street Live!.
You do not have to clip, trim or shave your hair to fight childhood cancer at Norton Children’s Hospital. Just donate what you can to someone you know, or donate online. All funds raised by Chili’s Clip for Kids stay here at home to help children fighting cancer. And we all know there’s no place like home!