Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Passion Project for Fab Over Fifty!

Guess who was picked to have an article written about her favorite charity?
Me! The longer article is on their site right now but this is the initial announcement that I had be chosen 2011 Passion Project Winner.

Passion Project 2011 Winner
Shirley Enebrad Seattle, Washington

Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Western Washington
Seattle, WA
Cancer is the number ONE disease killer of children in our country (more than all of the other diseases combined). My little boy Cory, was diagnosed with leukemia at age three. He died right after his ninth birthday. One of the things he made me promise before he died, was for me to help other parents going through the same difficulties that we faced alone. I have been involved with Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Western WA since the 80's. This organization was started in 1977 by a group of parents. We are a 501c3 that provides direct support to families coping with pediatric cancer and all the issues it brings. Many families have been wiped out financially and had to relocate in order to receive treatment for their child.This meant leaving family, friends, jobs and other support. Most marriages do not survive this type of stress filled situation. Many moms are left to deal with the ill child, siblings and treatments while not being able to work due to the frequency of treatments. Many donors are happy to give to research and we are constantly in need of emergency funds to help the families get by. In the recent economy, our emergency funds requests have quadrupled. The memory of Cory inspires me to continue helping the families. We are the "candlelighters"- we light the way for those families following behind us on the most difficult and pain filled path a family can be forced to travel.


{Passion Projects} Before FOF Shirley Enebrad’s son died, he made her promise just one thing…

“People don’t want to hear that kids die from cancer. They just want to cover their ears and pretend it’s not happening.” – FOF Shirley Enebrad, Candlelighters of Western Washington

FOF Shirley Enebrad’s son was diagnosed with leukemia in 1980. He was three and a half years old. Before he died, at age nine, he made her promise one thing: “Cory asked me to help other parents going through cancer treatment,” says Shirley.

“At that time, chemotherapies and treatments were evolving, and the idea of emotional support wasn’t important,” she says. “With 85 percent of marriages not surviving chronic illness diagnosis, it can be extremely isolating. I wanted support.”

But, there was not much support to be found in the Seattle area at that time. Shirley started some support groups on her own, but felt a whole organization should be dedicated to the cause. That’s when she discovered Candlelighters, an organization with the mission of giving emotional support to families facing childhood cancer. “It [the mission] wasn’t really happening though,” said Shirley. The organization was working to build Seattle’s first Ronald McDonald House, a very important cause, but not Shirley’s vision of direct, hands-on support for parents and families coping with cancer.

Shirley became president of the Candlelighters in the early 90s and helped refocus the organization. Today, the Candlelighters of Western Washington donates 100 percent of the funds it raises towards helping families directly. This includes funeral and emergency funds for financially devastated families, support groups, bereavement retreats and care bags.

“Many of our board members have gone down the same scary path and are ‘lighting the way’ for those unfortunate people who have been forced to follow us,” says Shirley. “Our needs are not as fun as a kids’ camp…or as exciting and hopeful as research, but for the families whose children are suffering right here and right now, the needs are very REAL.”

Shirley just recently “passed the baton” to a new president but continues to stay active as a grief counselor for the Candlelighters. She has also just written “Over the Rainbow Bridge,” a book about how Cory lived his life to the fullest despite his diagnosis. “I get tired but yes, I think I am fulfilling my promise to Cory,” she says.

Find out more about the Candlelighters of Western Washington and how you can help.

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