Finding strength in the youngest of survivors

posted by Jeff | Monday, June 10, 2013, 10:33 PM | comments: 0

We had such a fantastic weekend at Cedar Point. I'm lucky to have such a great little family to have little mini-breaks with. But the single greatest moment was not the Luminosity VIP party, or the many rides on Skyride, or even Simon's double laps on Jr. Gemini (finally!). The greatest moment came from a girl I had never met, and unknowingly helped indirectly.

Sunday we were manning the table on the midway during the Coasting For Kids event benefiting Give Kids The World Village (donate here). A girl rolled up in a wheelchair with someone I assume was a friend or sister, and she said she had been to the village with her family about two years ago.

Emma was diagnosed in 2009 with a brain tumor. I didn't think it was appropriate to dig too much, but I assume that if her family visited the village later, the long-term prognosis was questionable at best. She described it as one of the best weeks of her life. All of the hounding people on the Internet, hustling friends for money, the coaster riding... those smiles put a face on the effort in a way that nothing else can.

The tumor is gone, and she recently got a tattoo that says "survivor," with the date of her original diagnosis. She's attending community college now and wants to transition to university, perhaps to be a physical therapist for kids. The life in her eyes was something to behold, and something I don't even see in a lot of perfectly healthy people. The will to live from this bright young woman was extraordinary.

From a scientific standpoint, it's not clear if experiencing joy can help you overcome illness and disease, but it does seem likely. That's an angle I never really considered in supporting GKTW. Maybe these fantastic breaks that these kids have with their families can help some of them get better. It's another great reason to support this organization.

When you've met a kid who has stared death in the face, and beat it, it sure gives you a lot of perspective.


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