By Drew Neitzel
When I played basketball at Michigan State, I had the honor of meeting several children who were battling cancer. It always struck me that they looked up to people like me – when really, I was looking up to them for their courage, strength and passion for life.
They were the heroes. Those special children made a lasting impression and opened my eyes to how cancer or prolonged illness impacts more than just the body – especially for children, who may struggle to experience the everyday joys that many of us take for granted.
Fast forward a few years, to when I received an invite to lead a basketball clinic at the Children’s Healing Center. When I learned more about the facility and its mission to help families, I knew I had to get involved. I was fascinated by the extraordinary efforts the center made to ensure kids with compromised immune systems were safe, and by the breadth of programs and activities they offered to help kids and their families feel joy.
Since leading that first basketball clinic, I’ve found more ways to get involved, like attending events, and joining a committee to help raise funds to reach more families. My wife and I sponsored our first family, and their picture hung on our fridge as a reminder of how special they are, and how the Children’s Healing Center can offer happiness and a little hope during a trying time.
These kids are heroes – and they can bring out the heroes in us, if we choose to help – which is easy to do.
What I appreciate most about the Children’s Healing Center is that its mission is simple, and everyone there is focused on helping children and teens be who they truly are – children and teens. They’re not seen as patients. Or different. They’re free to let their guard down, to laugh, play, smile and heal. These kids are heroes – and they can bring out the heroes in us, if we choose to help – which is easy to do.