Candlelighters of Brevard: Dedicated to children with cancer and their families
Living with childhood cancer means trading in play dates for hospital stays; playgrounds for treatment centers; prom dresses for hospital gowns; hair bows for wigs; teachers for doctors; ice cream socials for rounds of chemo and radiation. Every day here in Brevard County, children battle through the physical pain and harsh reality of childhood cancer. There are no words that could illustrate the fear parents feel upon receiving this life threatening diagnosis of their precious child. The entire family unit is thrown into a state of overwhelming panic of the unknown path ahead.
In addition to the extreme financial strain of paying for care, Brevard County based families must also devote an overwhelming amount of time, travel and money for countless other expenses. Why you ask? There are no pediatric oncologists in Brevard County. Thus, 100% of families diagnosed with a form of childhood cancer living in Brevard must travel out of the county in order to seek medical care. Candlelighter families drove approximately 360,004 miles to their treatment centers in one year alone.
Oftentimes one parent or guardian has to quit their job in order to provide the care and transportation that is so critically needed. This brings about additional financial burdens to depend only on one source of income for the average family of four.
From the shock of the diagnosis to the painful side effects of treatment, the ongoing stress and emotional impact felt by the entire family is hard to imagine. The most heartbreaking reality is for bereavement families that have lost their precious angel to childhood cancer.
Although the staff and board hate the fact that these courageous little ones have to battle this deadly disease each day, we are humbled by the opportunity to serve them and their incredibly inspirational families. Candlelighters of Brevard is a non-profit organization dedicated to children with cancer and their families by offering emotional support and financial assistance. We are committed to ensuring no one has to face the diagnosis of childhood cancer alone. Since our inception in 1989, Candlelighters of Brevard has been instrumental in providing programs and services to children with cancer and their families.
September marked National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Candlelighters of Brevard took this opportunity to more deeply reflect with the community on the realities of fighting cancer as a child. For over 26 years, Candlelighters has seen first-hand the destruction that the diagnosis of childhood cancer brings to the entire family unit. However, they have also witnessed how the community can make a tremendous difference in the lives of these families through education, advocacy, financial assistance and emotional support.
WHAT CANDLELIGHTERS DOES
Through the support of local businesses, donors and volunteers, Candlelighters has been able to provide the following programs and services to over 300 families over the past 26 years:
- Treatment Center Allotment Fund: Pays for the exorbitant costs of food, gas, tolls and transportation to and from out of county cancer centers and hospitals during crucial treatments times.
- Home Away from Home: Family members are able to remain close to their loved ones during hospital stays at Ronald McDonald Houses or similar facilities paid by Candlelighters. In 2015, these families spent 1,103 days at clinic visits, 1,004 days in-patient and over 200 days were spent at the Ronald McDonald House. When families stay closer, kids heal faster.
- Angel Car Care Program: Repair services and automotive parts are provided to our families who travel many miles seeking answers and treatment for their children. Founded/funded by the Nelson Family of Brevard County Hyundai Dealers.
- Angel Fund: A one-time financial donation is given to families who have suffered the agonizing loss of a child.
- Other Candlelighters programs and services: Utility Assistance Program; Prescription Drug Program; Counseling Services; Memorial Fund; and Pre-Paid Gas Cards Program.
Family Events, Retreats and Functions: Going beyond traditional support groups and interactive meetings, our help provides a mental, physical and emotional release from cancer – giving kids the opportunity to just be kids.
Kirsten was 6 years old when diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on February 25, 2013. There are no words to describe how grateful we are to be a part of Candlelighters. Without them we would have been lost. From financial support to fun family outings and parties, they’ve made what was a horrible situation so much easier to handle. Even though treatment is over, they will always be a part of our family. Kirsten finished treatment in May 2015 and is now a thriving 10 year old!
– Kirsten’s Mother
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
While no one can see the diagnosis coming, we can make sure that Brevard patients and families have the support and resources they need to fight back. Easy ways you can make a difference in the lives of children battling cancer is by joining them in the fight against childhood cancer by one or more of the following opportunities:
You can shop, volunteer, or donate gently used furniture and home decor at their Resale Shop in Indialantic. Corporate and private donor opportunities are available year round. Sponsorship opportunities are also available for all signature events such as the annual Have-a-Heart Valentine’s Extravaganza (February), Crystal’s Day (October), and Ladies Night Out (August). Candlelighters Executive Director, Natasha Duran, can help determine the best possible opportunities for you and/or your organization to become part of the Candlelighter family of stakeholders and is committed to ensuring all donors receive return on investment. You can also visit the website to make a financial donation ‘in honor of’ or ‘in memory of’ a loved one, or find more information about joining Candlelighters of Brevard’s official Volunteer Guild.
From economic assistance to emotional encouragement, consider joining Candlelighters of Brevard in helping families survive the extreme physical, psychological and practical hardships of this disease. “Because Kids Can’t Fight Cancer Alone.”
Candlelighters of Brevard, Inc.
436 Fifth Ave. Suite 1 | Indialantic
(321) 728-5600 | CandlelightersofBrevard.org
Facebook: Candlelighters of Brevard, Inc.