A volunteering story by: Jeremy Tecktiel
My mom did many things for SuperSibs, but one of the biggest commitments was participating in a marathon. First and foremost, it is important to know my mother is the farthest thing from an athlete. When she was told there was a team training for and participating in a marathon to raise money and awareness, she was rightly hesitant to hit the ground running. She thought, well, I’ll start the training with them and see how far I make it, but I will still help raise money and awareness. A few months into her training, she started to realize that this was something she might actually be able to accomplish. She ended up meeting her money raising goal and finishing the marathon as a representative of SuperSibs. My mom also used to do a lot of volunteering and outreach for SuperSibs. As a teacher, she was exposed to many students who had siblings with cancer and was able to inform their parents of the organization so that they could sign their kids up. My mom and aunt are also very artistic and made thousands of get well soon cards that other children and volunteers used to write messages and sentiments on to send to SuperSibs. My mom loved volunteering because it was a very social experience for her. She would go with my aunt, my grandma, or just friends and sit there and talk while they put together care packages or make cards.
About 15 years ago, my family had a very close family friend who’s son, who was close friends with my son, was diagnosed with stage 3 leukemia at a young age. He fought it very hard and eventually won his multiple fights and is still alive and healthy. A lot was learned about the family, but one of the most important things was the younger brother of the boy. With all of the attention, he had no one to attend to his emotional needs. Unfortunately it wasn’t until after the fact that this came to his mothers attention, but she felt so strongly about it that she decided instead of going back to her corporate job she would attempt to start her own non for profit company called SuperSibs. All a parent had to do was sign their child(ren) up and she took care of the rest by sending cards and presents and organizing get-togethers with other children in the same boat. My family was very involved from the beginning of the organization, when we would go to her house and write cards in her basement. Now, the company is huge and helps kids all over the country, but the person who started it has since stepped down to spend more time with her sons. My mom still volunteers all the time so I took some time to ask her a few questions about her experience. Like most people, I have lost family and friends to cancer, but I had never even given a second thought to a child who has to watch their sibling fight the disease and go through the trials and tribulations that accompany it. As close as I am with my own siblings, I cannot imagine watching one of them go through an ordeal like that.
The Aha! moment…
My mom said she learned so much, especially about herself. She hadn’t really done a lot of volunteering and any volunteering she had done had never been as rewarding. She said she remembered how devastated our friends had been when their son was diagnosed and how badly she wanted to help them, but there wasn’t a whole lot she could do. The boy’s mom quit her corporate job and decided to dedicate her life to helping families cope and my mom jumped at the opportunity to help make a difference. She was very proud of herself for completing the marathon and said that it is never something she thought she could do, but she just kept pushing herself and realized what she could accomplish if she truly cared about it. My mom said the biggest thing she learned was that when someone gets diagnosed with cancer, everyone around them is affected just as much.
To summarize it in three words…
- caring, love, social
Why should you do this
My mom recommends SuperSibs to anyone and everyone. She also recommends participating in the annual marathon that she completed. The feeling of helping a child cope with this horrible disease is second to none.