Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Hosts the Annual Event to Celebrate New Beginnings
It’s one of the sillier things you hear sharing a table with a complete stranger.
“You’re not going to believe this, but your family is on my refrigerator,” exclaims Caroline, at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Cancer Survivor Day June 3 in Tampa. The two families were sharing a table for lunch at ZooTampa at Lowry Park during the day-long celebration. They also shared the unfortunate history of each having a child affected by cancer.
Jackson, 13, Caroline’s son, has been cancer-free for three years. He still is doing the annual lemonade stand fundraiser that he started on his own at age 5. The event is a big hit in his Clearwater neighborhood. Jackson’s most recent donation of nearly $2,000 went to Children’s Dream Fund and helped pay for a Disney cruise for another cancer family. As a thank you, the fund sent Jackson’s family a photo of the recipients enjoying their cruise. It was immediately hung on Caroline’s refrigerator.
Imagine their surprise when that same family shared their table on this happy occasion to celebrate the cancer being in remission. The two families became instant friends.
It’s a fun story and just one of the best reasons for the event.
“On Survivor Day we not only get the chance to celebrate our own family, but all of the other families here who have gone through the same experience,” Caroline explains. “This is our second year attending the event. It’s such a great day for so many obvious reasons. Families love it.”
“Cancer Survivor Day is such a fun and hard-earned day for our families that we try to always make it special—like coming to the zoo,” explains Lindsay Jones, R.N., who helps plan the event. “Clearly the staff gets as much out of it as the kids do. For us, it’s the opportunity to see the success stories play out right in front of us. Some of these patients return years after their diagnosis and it means so much to us to get to see them truly healthy. We get very attached to these kids and it’s like a family reunion for us as well.”
Nearly 200 people attended this year’s event at the zoo. Families were treated to the day with the animals, breakfast and lunch and private animal encounters, along with a chance to feed the giraffes. Past events have included a Tampa Bay Rays game, Busch Gardens and the Florida Aquarium.
Bringing families together, making new friends and appreciating a shared experience, for this group, makes for a happy ending.