By Christine Bryant
It seems like everything in the news lately has been Pokemon Go or politics, one entertaining and the other really annoying. I’ll let you decide which one is which.
So instead of playing to the masses, I want to tell you about an event that’s not only important, but helps restore a little bit of humanity that is so desperately needed right now.
This past winter, I wrote a story about Sam and his mom, Cindy Bish, who is founder of an organization named in Sam’s honor. Sam was headed into third grade at French Run Elementary in Reynoldsburg when he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer. The cancer had already metastasized to his spine, left femur and both lungs.
Despite doctors’ best efforts, Sam, a little boy who loved video games, Legos and spending time with his family and friends, died Aug. 20, 2010.
Before Sam died, however, he insisted his parents and friends promise to help other kids like him. At age 9, he showed more grace, courage and empathy than so many in the world today.
His parents kept their end of the promise, establishing the Sam Bish Foundation in 2010. The foundation works closely with hospitals to provide resources to families fighting pediatric cancer.
After receiving referrals, the foundation provides families with financial assistance for rent or mortgage payments, utility payments, car repairs, gas and food.
Cindy told me that many times when a child is diagnosed with cancer, one of the parents have to stop working in order to be with the child at the hospital or take him to appointments. This can create an enormous financial burden on a family, not to mention the emotional toll family members must already experience.
Volunteers also send care packages to kids in treatment, and several times a year, provide a catered meal to staff on the hematology/oncology floor at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
To help raise funds, the Bish family holds an annual event called Bish Bash, an indoor carnival that includes entertainment, food trucks, bounce houses, snacks, zoo animals, face painting, character appearances, a silent auction and more.
This year’s event will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 20 at the Bish family’s church, Westerville Christian Church, 471 E. College Ave., Westerville. Admission is $8 per person, with children younger than 2 free.
What makes this year extra special, Cindy says, is that it is being held on Sam’s 6-year “Angelversary in Heaven.”
“I know he would be so proud of all of the good works that the foundation is doing in his honor,” she said.
While gathering the family and attending Bish Bash is a simple gesture that can go a long way toward helping families battling pediatric cancer, there’s another way you can help. Cindy is looking for volunteers for the event.
As of press time, she is in need of 43 more volunteers. Shifts last 1-1⁄2 hours and all volunteers get into the event free. Volunteers can enjoy the event before or after their shifts, and all positions are needed, including running the games, monitoring the bounce houses, helping with registration, working the bake sale and serving concessions.
You can choose which shift you would like and where you prefer to serve. Teens are welcome to help as well. Go to https://signup.com/group/4185161000108 to sign up.
If you can’t attend Bish Bash, but want to learn about other ways you can help, go to sambishfoundation.org or to the organization’s Facebook page. The organization currently is in need of corporate sponsors to help widen its reach, and Cindy says anyone who enjoys baking can help by donating baked goods for the bake sale at Bish Bash. Donations of goods or gift cards from local businesses for the event’s auction also are welcome.
I’ve always loved Mister Rogers’ quote, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
It’s a scary time in the world right now, and having two young children myself I often worry about what the future holds for them. But it’s important for me to teach them the same lesson Mister Roger’s mother taught him so they never lose hope.
Look for the helpers – they’re all around us, including in the mirror.