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Big Heart Dance Beats for Childhood Cancer

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A mother’s heart is as expansive as the universe. We look at our babies and the world explodes with wonder and expectations. We never expect that one of our children will be diagnosed with cancer. When that happens, our world implodes. Even the most independent among us find that we need community in ways that we never imagined. The Big Heart Dinner and Dance this past Valentine’s Day brought a community together as one big heart.

 Big Heart Dance for Childhood Cancer

The event grew from a conversation with Dr. Brian Snyders and Spokane KXLY TV personality, Mark Peterson. Living proof that an idea can become a reality when someone is willing to put those ideas into action like Mark did. Teaming up with Encore Events & Presentations, the Red Lion Templins on the River, and many others, the Big Heart Dinner and Dance was born. Raising funds for the Emmett Paul Snyders Foundation (EPSF) and the American Childhood Cancer Organization Inland Northwest (ACCOIN), while having a love-filled Valentine’s Day event for couples and singles alike, ensures that children with cancer and their families have the support they need when they need it most.

Childhood Cancer Knows No Boundaries

It was evident that you do not have to experience childhood cancer first-hand to support families. Jennifer Evans, Encore Events owner, stated, “Knowing what I now know about childhood cancer, I am grateful every day that my children are well, but that doesn’t mean I’m exempt from being part of this community. If I were in the position that these families are in, I would desperately need the support that ACCOIN and EPSF provide. It’s important to me that I take the time to understand more about what these children and families are going through so that I know how to provide support. I want to be part of the “big heart” that whispers to families, “You are not alone. I care."

Big Heart Dance

Childhood Cancer Statistics and More

According to the American Cancer Society’s 2014 report, an estimated 15,780 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed and 1960 deaths from cancer will occur among children and adolescents aged birth to 19 years. Too many children just like Emmett Paul Snyders leave us way too early. Our children are more than statistics as this commentary by ACCO board member Jennifer Cullen PhD, MPH describes. The EPSF and ACCOIN, working together with our community, are a crucial part of the comprehensive care that children and families need.Childhood cancer can mimic other childhood illnesses. In 80% of cases, a child‟s cancer diagnosis is delayed until the disease is very advanced and has spread to other parts of the body. As a stark comparison, this only occurs in 20% of adult cancer cases.

How Can You Help?

Learn about childhood cancer and be aware of symptoms, trust your instincts, be forearmed but not alarmed, and learn how you can help support families who are living with a childhood cancer diagnosis.  Bring your unique talents, generosity, and yes – heart together and make a difference for these kids.

What ways are you making a difference for Childhood Cancer?

Photo credit: Tanya Smith

MAR 2014

Mary Anne Ruddis is the Executive Director for the American Childhood Cancer Organization Inland Northwest. She works closely with the Emmett Paul Snyders Foundation and other local organizations to support children with cancer and their families in the Inland Northwest. She is also a freelance writer as time allows and is in the process of creating a blog coming soon: SpiritInTheStreet.com

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