At first they found themselves turning up at the same fundraisers, exchanging niceties, competing against each other on a silent auction here and there, or just showing up to support kids and their parents. Early on they discovered they were on different sides of the same problem, childhood disease, and soon they were “showing up” to support each other. Tillman’s “Cornerstone Foundation” has the substantial weight of his celebrity status behind it, while Jake’s “Beckley Foundation” is supported by his unique fundraising events like mountain climbing Mt. Williamson to solo-rowing across Lake Michigan. Before long the emails started, turned to texts and eventually phone calls, they had found their common bond and were working on finding common ground.
WHy We’re doing This?
The physical effect of disease on children is obvious as they succumb to countless aggressive treatments like chemo and radiation therapy and endure their devastating side effects. But there’s a physical effect on families too as they try to manage life in an unending healthcare spiral. The countless hours in waiting rooms and at the child’s bedside take their toll in fatigue and fast food diets. Priorities are shifted to the patient while the parents pay a hefty physical price.
There’s an emotional cost too. Each new medical consult or treatment is fodder for the highs and lows that keeping hope alive necessitates. Fear and frustration contribute to the frayed nerves that often impact even the strongest families, and the urgent needs of one child can often foster a sense of loneliness and abandonment in siblings. In time, even the most tightly knit and supportive family can suffer from emotional depletion.
The social implications of caring for a critically ill child are complex and far-reaching. Families are forced to rely on relatives and friends for daily support, often for simple, every day needs that suddenly become overwhelming. Things like getting kids from school, taking care of the home, preparing meals, ensuring homework is done, all become burdens easily neglected. But the other side can be the loss of time to socialize with friends, have free-time as a couple, or simply have some privacy to process or just to keep life on track. Surrounded by “helpers” parents can, surprisingly, find themselves isolated and alone, especially as they face the mounting bills.
While a parent can’t begin to calculate the value of their child’s life, the fact is that medical bills amass at a startling rate as does the cost of supporting their involvement in treatment and care. Loss of income, stays in hotels or hospital housing, meals on the road, getting help back home, all add unexpected costs to the family budget. The mounting costs of care and treatment support can be overwhelming to the family regardless of the patient outcome, jeopardizing their entire future.
Recognizing the complexity, and enormity, of devastating childhood disease is what brought the Cornerstone Foundation and the Beckley Foundation together. A sense of urgency to make a difference and a willingness to join forces has created more than a common purpose or common ground, it’s created a friendship. It’s a partnership to draw attention, make a difference and raise the bar. Thus begins “Row4Kids”, an event you won’t want to miss.