Our story, from 1983
When Tom and Sheila Baker walked into the office of John Dooley, director of the Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center in Front Royal, Virginia, on a late August day in 1982, they weren’t fully aware of the almost surreal chain of events of which they were a part. But what Tom did know was that something he has come to regard as “divine intervention” had brought them to this point. Read more…
Volunteers at the heart of it
With a very small staff, Special Love relies almost exclusively on volunteers to carry out our mission of providing fun-filled, friend-filled programs for children with cancer and their families. From counseling at one of our camps to presenting a camp workshop to assisting at a fundraiser, volunteers keep us rocking. So would you like to volunteer? Check out our calendar of upcoming events, our eligibility guidelines for volunteers, and our volunteer handbook.
Pediatric cancer by the numbers
Frightening statistics on pediatric cancer in the U.S. make our work of caring for the emotional side of children with cancer even more important:
- Each day, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer.
- The number of diagnosed cases each year hasn’t declined in nearly 20 years.
- More than 40,000 children undergo treatment for cancer each year.
- More than 60% of children who survive cancer will suffer late effects, like infertility, heart failure, and secondary cancers.
- The overall survival rate for pediatric cancer patients (beyond five years after diagnosis) has increased from 10% to nearly 90% in 50 years.
A partnership of love
Since the beginning of Camp Fantastic and Special Love, the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, has generously lent its expert team of pediatric oncology doctors and nurses to help monitor and treat the children at Camp Fantastic. This partnership is magic: More than 50 NCI medical professionals arrive before the campers and methodically set up a state-of-the-art mobile infirmary and pharmacy in one of the lodges. Throughout the years, word of the camp “assignment” has spread among oncology specialists and others have signed on – from surrounding hospitals and solo practices. They each share our passion for making life a little more normal for children with cancer. What do they get out of it? “It’s the one week I get to say ‘yes’ to a child with cancer, when I’m usually saying ‘No.’” one nurse lovingly explains. “Yes, have some ice cream. Yes, play soccer. Yes, stay up a little late for the dance.” What do we get out of it? Everything.
The power of your donation
Giving is personal. Thanks to the many donors who make their own personal, caring statements by donating to Special Love, ensuring children with cancer and their families continue to find much-needed escapes through camps, scholarships, and financial assistance. Here’s what your dollar can do:
$700 sends one child to camp for a week
$500 builds our scholarship fund
$250 sends one child to camp for a weekend
$200 provides emergency financial relief to a family
$125 feeds one child for a week at camp
$75 sponsors one child for a day at camp
$25 provides craft supplies for a camper
An everlasting imprint
How do you make a mark that lasts a lifetime for a child with cancer? One way is through a well thought-out planned gift to Special Love. Whether you make a bequest, establish a trust, name Special Love as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, or use another financial vehicle, we welcome your donations and are honored to be included in your financial planning. Your gift can target specific needs within Special Love’s pediatric oncology programming or help us with general operational funding, which is always a challenge. Let us know what you’re thinking and we can help.
Our Scrapbook & Annual Report
Like many organizations, at the end of each year Special Love reviews its list of goals for the year, checks off those we mastered (How How!), and lays out a plan for the coming year – always keeping our eyes on the ultimate objective: to make life a little more normal, a lot more joyful for children with cancer and their families. In our latest annual report, take a look at where we’ve been and where we’re heading.
A grove of trees
One evening each year, Special Love campers make their way to a grove of young trees growing near the campgrounds. Together, the young cancer patients plant a sapling to remember those campers who aren’t with them at this year’s camp. The moment is poignant. But the spirit of the tradition is filled with love. Today, more than 20 trees, in different stages of growth, stand as a tribute to those who’ve lost – and those who’ve won – their battles with cancer.
We love being in the news, because it means more people are learning about Special Love’s mission – more campers, more volunteers, more supporters. We call that a win-win-win. Help us spread the word! Visit Special Love’s newsroom.
Help us spread the word
We believe in the power of compounding: One person tells a friend who tells a friend who tells a…. You get the picture. Help us spread the word about Special Love’s unique programs for children with cancer and their families. If you know a patient or family who would love to come to camp or another program, tell them about us. If you know someone who would make a great volunteer, tell them about us. If you know someone who may be interested in supporting our programming financially, tell them about us. Let’s get the conversation going and keep growing Special Love’s community of support!