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Event aimed to 'spook the cancer' at least for one day - FlagSpin

Event aimed to ‘spook the cancer’ at least for one day

Amid all the ghouls and monsters coming out on Halloween, there is nothing scarier than a cancer diagnosis, and it’s even much scarier when a parent finds out that their child has the illness.

That’s why one event tries to spook cancer away for a day and bring some fun to the children and families suffering from pediatric cancers.

The Spook Cancer Away and Spook Cancer Away Haunted House was an event held last week by the Smiles From Heaven organization exclusively for children and their siblings fighting pediatric cancer in efforts to provide a safe environment amid the pandemic, especially as they are more vulnerable to illnesses like COVID-19. The event helped gather many of these children and provide them a normal Halloween night during a time of uncertainty for them and their families.

“Smiles From Heaven hosted a Spook Cancer Away event at L&F Distributors,” said Ray Sanchez, founder and president of Smiles From Heaven. “The event consisted of a haunted house and a ‘Trunk or Treat’ for all local children affected by childhood cancer and blood disorders.”

Sanchez states that even though the event was just exclusive to children fighting cancer, it was an overall success as many people did attend. He said that siblings of the children going through a case of cancer were also welcomed to the event, as like their parents, they are also struggling with the fact that they have a cancer case in their families.

He stated that many families finally had a good time as they continued to struggle with their children who have the illness.

“The event was an outdoor event and exclusively for our local warriors,” Sanchez said. “Overall, we had around 100 people in attendance. It was a success. Our local warriors and families had a spooktacular time and absolutely loved it!”

The children were able to enjoy several Halloween-related activities, be scared by several monsters and even take pictures for those brave enough and of course get some candy.

Sanchez states that the very purpose of the organization is to offer these children a chance to celebrate a holiday as normal as possible as they usually do not get to do so because of their illness and many also cannot go out much due to health reasons as well.

“One of Smiles From Heaven’s missions is to uplift the spirits of children fighting cancer and improve their quality of life,” Sanchez said. “Kids fighting cancer undergo many chemotherapies and lifesaving treatments that suppress the child’s immune system. Due to the global pandemic, many of our warriors will not be able to trick-or-treat; therefore, SFH did its best to provide a safe environment where children can enjoy and participate in October’s holiday.”

Sanchez states that it is essential to celebrate holidays like these with the children, as due to their delicate health situations, parents and those rooting for them do not know if this might be their last time they celebrate anything.

“Every holiday celebration we host, we try and go the extra mile for these kids because sadly, it might be their last holiday here on earth,” Sanchez said.

It is due to this that Sanchez’s organization annually celebrates all of the major holidays for these children in efforts to provide them and their families some glimmer of hope in a time when they know they are going through a tough battle.

Sanchez states that events like these are also needed as many children do not spend their holidays at home or even in the Gateway City, as they have to travel elsewhere to get treatment for their illnesses. He states that the organization often helps families getting transportation services or simply providing them gas monies for such expenses.

“Unfortunately, it is no secret that Laredo is medically underserved, and the pandemic has shined a light to this darkness,” Sanchez said. “The leaders of the City of Laredo and Webb County need to come together and improve our health system. Why are Laredo’s constituents medically underserved? Why must our children travel out of town to receive their life saving treatments? Our children deserve more.”

According to Sanchez, it is sad that over a dozen local warriors could not attend the event due to them being out of town receiving their life-saving treatments.

Nevertheless, Sanchez states that more events are coming soon from his organization as Smiles From Heaven has a handful of events planned such as Bella’s 5th Annual Toy Drive, SFH Thanksgiving Dinner at Methodist Children’s Hospital, SFH Grinchmas Party, SFH Superhero 5K, SFH First Annual Fajita Cook Off, SFH Flag Football Tournament and the list goes on, he states.

The event schedule is for Nov. 1 which will be the fifth annual Bella’s Toy Drive, which is an event where people from the community are asked to donate a new, unwrapped toy to be later gifted to the children who are undergoing pediatric cancer. Every year, many local children are provided with a toy by the organization a week before the Christmas holiday.

“The community can always stay connected and updated of our event on our website,” Sanchez said. “Last, but not least I would like to thank the following for helping us make this past event a success: South Texas Ford Mafia, Misfits 4×4 of Laredo, L&F Distributors, Pumpd Nutrition, STAT Emergency/Specialty Hospital and Luis Haux.”

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Travis Burnett

Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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