Wish Kid: Trevor

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“We started the official fight this morning at 10:00 am. We are going to fight and win this battle. Let’s do this.” Strong, hopeful words on the day Trevor’s first round of chemo began.

Two and half years later and Trevor’s dad recalls the countless number of procedures:

  • 4 cycles of gut wrenching, poisonous chemotherapy…
  • Over 12 hours of surgery (I think more, but it was such a blur)…
  • Another 2 cycles of chemotherapy…
  • Cancer progression…
  • Two MIBG therapies (liquid radiation that makes you radioactive so you are in an isolated room with nominal parental interaction) …
  • 3 more cycles of chemotherapy with a seizure in between one of the cycles…
  • 14 traditional radiation treatments…
  • 15 cycles of torturous antibody therapy…

But the good news is that Trevor is currently in remission from neuroblastoma. Even better news is that he’s currently in a vaccine trial in hopes of preventing relapse. He is an incredibly strong boy who loves his family, especially his sister.

His entire family has been on a journey of highs and lows and Pile of Smile would like to grant Trevor’s wish of relaxing with his family on a Disney cruise. He is one of the kids we will be raising money for at our second annual gala. Even if you can’t be there in person, you can still help by donating to the cause. Please visit our Eventbrite page for more details.

Wish Kid: Ellie

Pile of Smile Wish KidPre-B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Those are words that many adults can barely understand, let alone a child. But Ellie had to quickly learn about the cancer that was making her sick a month shy of her 6th birthday.

Ellie had been sick for several weeks. She had started losing weight, having nighttime fevers, stomach and elbow pain. After not being able to find answers, Ellie’s mom took her in for blood work. “I look fondly back on the time when I thought that was a big deal!” That afternoon they got the news that Ellie had leukemia. “He felt that she was medically unstable, and had us go directly to CHOP without going home first.”

And that’s where she stayed for 2 weeks. While most kids her age were worrying about what they would wear to school, she was busy getting a bone marrow biopsy, a port placed in her chest, and starting chemotherapy. She went through intensive treatment for 8 months and had to be hospitalized several times due to side effects.

Throughout this ordeal, Ellie never let cancer get in her way. She reads about 5 years above her grade level. She loves science and wants to be a doctor. Her mom says Ellie loves “anything exciting.” You know, the usual stuff, like “waterslides, roller coasters, science experiments that explode, etc.”

The good news is that Ellie entered a phase of treatment last September called “long-term maintenance” and is starting to feel better.

Pile of Smile Wish KidPile of Smile Wish KidHer hair is starting to grow back, she is usually able to attend school, and the side effects have decreased. Her oncologist will closely monitor her health for 5 years but things are starting to look brighter.

Slowly but surely, Ellie is getting back to doing what she ought to. Being a kid.

Pile of Smile wants to help Ellie celebrate this new chapter in her life by fulfilling her wish to go to Atlantis with her family. That’s why we are excited to announce her as one of the kids we will be raising money for at our second annual gala. Even if you can’t be there in person, you can still help by donating to the cause. Please visit our Eventbrite page for more details. As always, your donation is tax-deductible.

Cancer Mini Wish: Asher

Many of us at Pile of Smile have a personal connection to the cause. Our Managing Director, Kerry, works tirelessly with all the families whose wishes we fulfill. But this Mini Wish was especially near and dear to her heart.

Pile of Smile Mini WishShe personally sponsored a Mini Wish for Asher Mack. Asher and his family are incredible human beings. Lindsay and Justin adopted Asher knowing he had Down Syndrome and cancer. It would be natural to ask yourself why. But for this family, it was never a question.

Lindsay describes on their blog “…that tugging at my heart, did not go away. Once we started learning more and more about how these awesome, beautiful individuals are treated so poorly in other countries, we knew we couldn’t save the world, but we could at least change one amazing little boys life.”

Kerry was instantly drawn to this family as her cousin has Down Syndrome: “The love she has always given me and the lessons she teaches are invaluable.”

Pile of Smile Mini WishPile of Smile Activity BookAsher’s family wanted an experience so Kerry didn’t waste time donating 4 tickets to the Baltimore Aquarium. In fact, she joined forces with Laney, one of her yoga students, to send him a customized package with the tickets. After all, Pile of Smile isn’t just about giving to kids. It’s about encouraging kids to give back too. “In the midst of the crazy, spending time with Laney to send this gift to Asher was what life is meant for…giving back.”

Asher’s family definitely brought happiness home when they adopted him and we can’t wait for him to enjoy the aquarium. We are so grateful for people like Lindsay and Justin and extremely thankful we can be a small part of their lives.

2016 Pile of Smile Valentine Workshop

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I vividly remember the excitement of Valentine’s Day as a child. I agonized over finding the perfect set of cards to hand out to my schoolmates. We made heart pouches in class to hold our cards and couldn’t wait to go through all the lovely messages. Fast forward a good number of years later and I can’t remember the last time I even bought Valentine cards, let alone made one. Like with most things when we get older, it’s easy to forget the simple joys of childhood.

But for some, childhood isn’t always so simple. There are children all over the world that struggle to lead normal lives while battling cancer. They have a lot more to worry about than what cards they are going to get at the store. Sometimes they have to miss school altogether.

PileOfSmileWorkshopPile of Smile knows that a little act of kindness can go a long way. That’s why we partnered with our friends at Jammin Java and South Block Juice Co. to put together a free workshop inviting people to make Valentine’s Day cards for children in need.

Kids—young and old—came together and enjoyed a day surrounded by good people, fun craft paper designs, and glitter….lots and lots of glitter. It was amazing to see the love and care that went into making each card. We were able to make many unique cards. Share some laughs. And dropped only one container of glitter on the carpet.

And thanks to the generosity of those who came, we were able to send cards to all our wish kids and donors with the utmost love. We were also able to send 10 cards and 10 of our activity books to 5 new cancer treatment centers.

Whether you’re making or receiving it, art can really heal the soul.

For those who made cards with us, thank you for taking time out of your day to make someone else smile. We hope to see you again at another workshop soon.

For those receiving cards, thank you for being our Valentine. Thank you for being brave. Thank you for being you.