The church I attended in Charleston always made a point to repeat a phrase that stuck with me. Our pastor would preach to always "pray for the open chair". By doing this, we prayed for the empty seat in the room. For the person maybe going through a hard time and couldn't make it to church or small group. For the person struggling to make their way to church because they're scared. For the person so broken, church isn't even on their radar. The more I "prayed for the open chair", the more I thought about all the other people in the world and what they may be going through at that very moment. I thought about adults struggling at work or millennials dealing with mental illness. I thought about the girl sitting at home scared to show up to church by herself. All these times I was praying for the open chair I don't think I ever thought about a little kid. Now, I'm not saying those things adults go through don't matter, but children, I think they need our prayers the most.
Which leads me to this.. every day, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer, with the average age of diagnosis being 6. SIX. They don't read about politics. They don't experience the heartbreak after a bad break up. They spend their days laughing and playing. They spend their days absorbing new words they read in books or counting to 100 and beyond with their parents. Care free living. Yet we so often go about our days never once thinking that in this year alone, 40,000 children will undergo life saving treatment. These 6 year olds (or even younger) will sit in a hospital receiving treatment for a disease they probably know little about, let alone the severity of it. While we complain about our 9-5 jobs and college debt, these children will sit in a bare room for hours, not knowing that college or a full time job exists. Not knowing that they will hopefully grow to be passionate enough about something to spend 4 years of their life studying to achieve that dream. So in this world where our minds are constantly focused on the wrong thing, how do we make a difference? An impact? Well, I decided to do some research on what exactly was going on in the community to help these young minds. Who's raising awareness and how are they doing it?
As I'm checking my email in the midst of finding inspiration for this blog, I receive an email from the Nick’s Fight to be Healed foundation.
“The mission of Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation is to support pediatric cancer patients as well as serve the young adult cancer community. We strive to improve quality of life by promoting well-being, reducing stress within the entire family, and providing resources to help children with cancer lead fun and fulfilling lives.”
I got connected with the foundation back in high school, when my dad's colleague lost his son to cancer. Of course you hear about foundations like this often and you think to yourself “I should help” or “Maybe I’ll volunteer at a fundraiser they host.” Then 7 years go by and you’ve gotten so wrapped up in the rest of your life you forgot about it (or maybe that’s just me). So, the email popped up and I decided I was at the very least going to attend one of their events and see the impact they were making.
My dad volunteers at the Nick’s Run to be Healed every year, so this year I made a point to stop by. Let me tell y’all, I was SHOCKED at the amount of people that came out to run for a cure. The event consisted of “Nick’s Dash”, a 2 mile walk, 5k run, and “Luke’s mile”.
Who is Luke? Lucas Santoro is Nick’s Warrior, who was diagnosed with leukemia in June 2014. Lucas was supported by the Nick’s Fight to be Healed foundation during his battle with cancer. Now, the families work together to raise awareness and help in the search for a cure.
I think it’s really important that as we go through the fall season, we take a moment, put down our phones, turn off the tv, and make a plan on how we can help. To learn more about Nick’s story, click here.