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Six years ago, I never imagined that I would be the founder of a nonprofit organization.  I was still pretty numb from Isaac’s brain cancer diagnosis and was trying to make sense of “what now?!?!” after his treatment had ended. I always used to say that Camp Out started out as our family’s way to give back to all of those that helped us get through the most trying 15 months of our lives, but in reality COFC was our therapy.  We weren’t only providing an escape for children with cancer, but venturing down into the basement to pack care packages was also an escape from our own realities as a family.

Who would have ever thought that we would find a way to hand-pack one thousand care packages from our little ole basement? It hasn’t always been easy.  I work a full-time job as a 1st grade teacher which seems to only become more demanding each and every year.  Isaac and Ivy are now teenagers with their own interests and hobbies and not much free time available after homework and chores.  Also, being involved in the world of childhood cancer for so many years can become very heavy at times.  We have made so many new friends through COFC, but we have also sadly lost many to cancer as well. It is truly so many of you that have kept us going…that have cheered us on all of these years.  I have to give some special lovin’ to a few people…

Patrick, what can I say?  Thank you for all of the many ways that you have helped me and have held down the fort while I worked and been pulled in a million different directions.  You stay in the background and often go unnoticed, but believe me, that I couldn’t do any of this without you!  Thanks for believing in me all of these years!

Isaac and Ivy…you may not realize it now, but you have selflessly dedicated countless hours to putting smiles on the faces of kids that you have never even met. Always remember to find ways to spread love and kindness whether it’s through care packages or just being a good human being.

My Board of Directors!  I am not always the easiest person to work with (ask Pat ;)). But these three ladies have stood by my side from the beginning.  Thank you to Tammy, Dana, and Amy for always trusting my vision and helping me along the way (when I am willing to give up some control)!

My daddy, brother, sister, and my inlaws that have gone to more events and rocked COFC gear time and time again.  I love you all, dearly!

My neighbors…My Lynn Ct. and Lynn Drive Crew (and LWC Community)!  We started out as strangers and have truly become our family.  They were there with us through the thicks of it.  They lived the day in and day outs of Isaac’s cancer diagnosis.  They saw first hand the impacts that cancer had on our family and they were there time and time again to pick us up when we needed it and all of their kids have packed care packages on plenty of occasions!

My school family!  These ladies are right there in the same team photo as my neighbors.  My eyes actually fill with tears thinking about the amazing staff and families that have wrapped their arms around us all of these year.  The sub plans that they wrote for me, the tears they wiped and hugs they gave in the hallway as I rushed off to get to the hospital or to pick Isaac up from the 1000th call from the nurse, the fundraisers they supported, the hours they donated…these are the people that I see DAY IN AND DAY OUT and I couldn’t ask for better…especially RACHEL MCCULLOCH!!  And to my students and their families that have trusted in me all of these years as I have been pulled in way too many directions.

Brooksie and Jeannine!!!  These two get their own category!  I have been friends with these two ladies since freshman year of high school.  We played basketball together and hung out together outside of school.  Then we all went to college and although they stayed besties, I lost touch.  Thank goodness for the world of social media that allowed me to reconnect with them.  They have been two of my biggest cheerleaders (and if you know Brooksie you know that I mean, literally!). They come to our events, volunteer, share posts, comment.  If there was a COFC Spirit Award these two would get it!  You girls are amazing!

And most importantly, all of those smiling faces!!  For the pictures that get sent to us with kiddos and their siblings in their tents and enjoying their care packages…at the end of the day it is them that keep us going!  Thank you for sharing a small glimpse into your journey with us and allowing us to be a small part of it.

Here is to #1000 and here is to #1000 more!!

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