Any kind, any time.

The word instills terror.

It attacks the body, leaves the mind reeling, and isolates.

There are many groups and associations that try to mitigate those impingements on everyday life. Balding for Dollars is one of those. They raise money, hopes, morale, and community involvement all at the same time. Balding for Dollars helped my son, who successfully fought Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, by giving him something fun and interesting to look forward to.

At 17 Donavin got his diagnosis and was told he would have at least 3 years of chemo. Chemo brings down your immunity and has all kinds of nasty side effects. It batters the body to such a point that you can no longer fight off the slightest attack on your system and need to be able to access healthcare at a moment’s notice. This often means you can’t go on overnights, camping trips, or places where there are a lot of people; or hardly any people. Wherever you are, you are isolated.

Dan Mornar playing music on the beach in Tofino

Dan Mornar, Past Patient and Parent Advocate for Oncology playing music on the beach in Tofino

Balding for Dollars takes care of that for you. You get to go to cool places, meet people like you, and have healthcare professionals right there with you. It also includes the families, so that siblings; that have also been greatly impacted on many levels, get to have cool experiences and meet people that get them.

Donavin had his first experience surfing in Tofino while staying in a great home right on the beach. He met others his own age that had similar experiences. They got to have beach fires, sing-alongs, eat what they wanted; or needed, and sleep/rest when needed. They were able have a good time with no one resenting them for holding them back, or making people anxious that something would go wrong. Everyone around him understood. If you are too sick today—it’s ok. If you only have enough energy to watch – it’s ok. If something goes wrong and you need a healthcare professional – it’s ok, because they go with you. That trip also helped me realize a dream of going to Tofino because my mother had always sung its praises. That was just a lucky coincidence, but helped my aching heart in one more small way.

Donavin also got to take his little brother with him to a horse camp. His brother loves horses, so it was a big hit. Other kids brought their siblings as well, so again people with much in common were in a common place having common experiences. Some of these fast friends still keep in touch years later.

Friends made at a Balding for Dollars getaway.

Balding for Dollars helped this family with a little respite from the harshness of fighting cancer for a little while; which is a minor miracle. I know it has; and will, help countless others find an oasis in the obstacle course of fighting off a formidably dangerous and vicious opponent. The looks on the faces of campers is that of joy and momentary abandon. There are times that you think the new normal will never come back to just plain old normal. Balding for Dollars gives families back the normal for a little while.

–Juliana White – childhood cancer survivor’s mom

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