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  • Writer's pictureTerri Tomoff

Special Love's Under 7 Day!

Back in the late 1990s, our family took advantage of Special Love's Under 7 Weekend in Front Royal, Virginia, when son Ryan was three and his older sister, Olivia, was 5. By then, Ryan had almost a year of chemotherapy under his belt, and his health had many challenging moments. As a family, we decided we needed to meet others like us. We found the organization through other families at our home hospital along with the social workers who had us sign up, provided Ryan had good blood counts once the weekend commenced. That one Under 7 weekend sent us on a trajectory that has led us to where we stand today through the bonds we forged, the compassionate staff we met, and the programming to help each and every family member on our cancer journey over the past almost 28 years. It is one of the gifts that will always be close to my heart.

For several years in the last ten or so, The Under 7 Weekend was removed from the programming. Thankfully, it's now back and in its second year in the new era. It's no longer a weekend format but a single fun day jammed packed with activities (crafts - paintings and birdhouses/face painting/silhouette portraits/balloonist/lunch/merry-go-round and more) for everyone in the family. I've been blessed to be on the planning committee and volunteering for the event (I missed last year due to travel).

I was up early to drive to Northern Virginia's Frying Pan Park in Herndon to meet the staff, volunteers, and families who had signed up for a great day. I had flashbacks to my family's first foray into meeting other kids and families like the families did today. It was a full circle moment - even channeling the Master of Distraction, Kathy Russell, when I was paired with an amazing high school volunteer to oversee two young sisters - ages 2 and 4 1/2 years old. As staff, we all took care of the children while their parents were in a parent discussion led by another volunteer/staff member. The 2-year-old wanted mommy, but we worked in tandem to distract her the best we could, and we did!

The photos below depict some of the arts and crafts and sweet Eliza (her parents gave permission for her to be in my blog today). One more thing: if you are taking care of a bunch of kids from 1 year to 7 years - three things are needed: a couple of big balls, several hula hoops, and several pool noodles. They all could have played for hours with those fun items, just saying.

Photo #2 - Eliza with her Dad, #6 - Childlife Specialist Holly Senn with Eliza.


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