Two of my worlds recently collided and something great happened. I’m proud to be involved with an organization like Smile-A-Mile that helps families affected by childhood cancer. I’m also proud to work for a company that doesn’t just build buildings but builds relationships beyond the projects. This special place will allow families to break their day of beeping medical equipment and hospital beds. Families can walk from Children’s Hospital to Smile-A-Mile Place and workout, watch a movie, do their laundry, meditate, pray, play games, and talk to others experiencing the same journey as they are.
But I want to take a minute to highlight the devotion and compassion of the amazing staff of Smile-A-Mile Place. When they speak of what they do and the kids they meet, it draws you in. When you witness their interaction with these children (some ill, some in remission), your heart is completely moved. Their summer program includes seven camp sessions where children that either have cancer or had cancer get to attend and do all the usual camp activities that “normal” children do (boating, fishing, crafts, swimming). As a Junior Board Member, I had the pleasure of attending a camp session last summer. I was speaking to one of the camp counselors about one of his campers that was undergoing treatment. He explained that he didn’t have that much longer to live, maybe 6 months. I glanced at the young boy who was laughing and playing with the other children. I turned and asked the counselor, “How do you do it? How do you keep it together knowing that he won’t be here next summer?” He sighed and looked at me and said, “You just love them while you have them.”
These volunteers and staff members see tragedy in children that have lost their lives to cancer. They see exhaustion and heartache in the families affected including siblings. However, they put on a smile when no one else can, even when it’s difficult for themselves. They are the shoulders to cry on, the ears to listen and the words to lift spirits. They live day by day to the fullest for these people. They live big and love big, selflessly for the children, siblings and parents. This new facility completed by BL Harbert will allow them the space they need to continue to carry out their mission. The two firms are now forever life-long friends. I’m so fortunate for my connection to two great organizations like Smile-A-Mile and BL Harbert International. Congratulations to both for a facility we all can be proud of!
Thanks for reading my #perspective! -Blake Rhodes