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Meet Crash’s Crew [AUDIO]

Sara, Olivia and Ady, three members of Crash’s Crew

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. It seemed like the right time to introduce you to Crash’s Crew. I’ve been deeply involved with Cure Kids Cancer at Sanford Children’s Hospital for the past five years. Cure Kids Cancer is under the umbrella of Children’s Miracle Network and here in Sioux Falls, we’re one of just a handful of radio stations that do our annual Radiothon specifically for pediatric cancer.

Every March, I, along with many of my Results Radio family, do our Radiothon from the lobby of Sanford Children’s Hospital. In the past five years, thanks to your generosity, we’ve raised over ONE MILLION DOLLARS to help Crash’s Crew and kids right here in our area!

Crash’s Crew is a moniker I came up with to show just how important these kids have become to me. I’d love to post pictures and the stories of all of my Crew, but unfortunately, the list keeps growing every year. But I think about Amanda, Kelsey, Wesson, Sam, Olivia, Sara, Spencer, Mariah, Adrienne, Cassie, Ian, Zachary, Naysa, Ona, Cowboy DaNNY, and all the rest every single day.

That being said, two of the ‘charter’ members of my crew will always hold a special place in my heart for the rest of our lives: Amanda and Kelsey.

I met both of these wonderful people at Camp Bring It On near Madison, SD. It’s a one week camp each summer for kids fighting cancer. I was impressed immediately by the staff (made up largely of doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals!) and other than the fact that many of the kids have little or no hair, you’d never know it was a ‘cancer camp’. It’s one week that the kids can just be kids. But they have campfires each night to talk about what they’re going through. It’s a bonding week for these kids because it let’s them know that they’re not the only one’s going through this. It gives them a chance to talk about EVERYTHING that they’re going through to a peer group that completely understands. It’s one of the coolest places anywhere.

Kelsey and Amanda couldn’t have been more different, and yet the same that summer day that I met them. Kelsey was shooting paint balls and archery with the other teenage girls group and talking about what teenaged girls SHOULD talk about: boys, movies, boys, school and oh yeah, boys. Amanda was a small for her age eight year old with a tie-dyed bathing suit and about five hairs on her head as she was one day out of chemotherapy. Her biggest concern the day I met her? Not letting the TV reporter take up too much of her time so she missed her turn on the boat.

It was an eye-opening experience for me. I’m from a generation that didn’t even realize kids could get cancer. That was for old people. And if someone DID have cancer, it was talked about in hushed tones. Here were kids and young adults, all with cancer, yet running around with smiles on their faces and fighting the fight of their lives, literally. I admit it, I fell in love with the people involved with the camp and all the kids that day and was determined to do whatever I could to help the fight against childhood cancer.

Childhood cancer is the leading cause of non-accidental death in children. 11,000 of our kids are going to be diagnosed with cancer this year alone. That averages out to 46 new diagnoses each DAY…seven of those kids won’t beat it. One in 330 kids will develop cancer by the age of 2o. Even with those frightening statistics, we get closer to a cure every day through your generous donations. Thanks to the advancements made, Amanda is now a ‘typical teen’ according to her mom, and Kelsey will graduate from SDSU this spring and just got another clean bill of health this week!

But during the upcoming winter months, I’ll be introduced to a number of new families who have just gotten the worst news of their lives: their child has cancer. And Crash’s Crew will grow yet again.

We’re fighting cancer, so our kids don’t have to. If you’d like to make a donation, you can do so here.

As I wrap up this blog, I’d ask you to take a few minutes to listen to these montages that I did after interviewing Amanda and her Mom that summer and after I sat down with Kelsey. Their words can do so much more to let you know what our kids are going through than I ever could.

On behalf of Crash’s Crew, thanks for reading and for listening. Peace.

Crash and Amanda Ode

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Crash and Kelsey Heer

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