While the hulk-like college football players may have an edge in brawn and physical strength, they’d be the first to admit they weren’t the toughest young people in the stadium on this night.
That honor goes to the Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley patients who were recognized on the field at halftime as part of the annual Survivor Celebration.
Children who’ve been treated at our Showers Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders and their families attended the game as special guests of Youngstown State University and the hospital.
“There’s no finger pokes, no chemotherapy, no treatments, no blood work … it’s a day they can come out and have fun with their families,” said Shari Harmon, clinical coordinator of the Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders.
Five staff members and more than 50 patients and their families enjoyed the event, which is annually connected to Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September.
She said children battling cancer, sickle cell and bleeding disorders were all part of this year’s event. The night included a tailgate party, t-shirts, bubbles, an opportunity to watch pregame warmups from within high-five distance of the players, and the halftime recognition on the field.
“What we’ve come to realize during our daughter’s cancer battle is that no one fights alone,” said Jeff Sabella of Boardman, whose daughter Nora, 5, was diagnosed in January 2018 with stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma. “We have an amazing support system among our family, our church, and the doctors and nurses at Akron Children’s.”
Cameron Heath, 6, of Austintown, attended with his brother, Andru Davis, and uncle, David M. Davis, Sr.
“This is a special opportunity for Cameron. He loves football, and I’m just honored to spend this time with him,” David said.
In addition to the pizza, cookies and warm ovation from the thousands in the stands, the families were treated to perfect early fall weather and a big YSU victory on the field.
For patients cared for on the Akron campus, a picnic and evening together at the Akron RubberDucks game was held on Aug. 30. More than 800 attended to celebrate their loved ones’ strength and determination during treatment. See photos and read more about that event here.
If you’d like to offer financial support to the Showers Center, please consider making a donation during this special time: http://bit.ly/