When our 14 year old daughter, Dawn…

was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia our eyes were opened to the number of children treated by the Hematology/Oncology Group at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. Like so many families who had healthy children we never imagined how many people were dealing with devastating illnesses. Over the course of the 7 ½ months of Dawn’s illness we met so many families whose children were dealing with a diagnosis of cancer. Many of these families were struggling not only with their child’s illness but with financial needs for non medical expenses.

Dawn met so many children that she wanted to help. One little girl couldn’t walk in the hall because she had no bedroom shoes. As soon as Dawn was able to sit up she wanted a wheelchair ride to the gift shop to buy her shoes. She also met a young woman about her age that was already very ill when she was diagnosed. She didn’t have any gowns or pajamas except for the hospital gowns, no turbans to cover her balding head, and none of the stuffed animals, flowers, and balloons that always filled our room.

When we had a brief visit home Dawn made a quick shopping trip and filled a box with goodies for this young patient. She didn’t want to wait until we returned so she mailed the box to the hospital. We were told it brought the young woman a great deal of pleasure when she received the package.

Dawn spent the money that people sent her to help other people. After her death we felt it only fitting that the money she had accumulated from the generosity of our friends go to a cause that was near to her heart. We didn’t have enough money to set up a trust so the hospital helped us to set up an account, the Dawn Pitchford Account, which would help with the non medical needs of the children with cancer.

Cancer is a devastating disease in many ways. Many times at least one parent is not able to work, gas to make the trips to Birmingham and even sometimes money to buy bus tickets are necessary. Phone bills can be astronomical.

There are so many things that you never think of until you are there. The account is administered by the department and it continues to give us a great deal of peace to know that Dawn is still helping other children who are faced with a dreaded diagnosis.

Just think what can be done with the money raised by the Tristates 100. As bikers put forth the effort to make this ride and sponsors give generously to support it we will be reaching children and their families across our state. Long, difficult days may be made a little easier for both the children and their parents. So, I encourage you to join us as we support a cause very dear to my heart and the heart of all parents who have set beside the bed of their child who is fighting the battle for their life.