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Counselor Perspective: Mater

It was the last long run I was going to do with my dad, or “Pops” as he’s known on our advisory board, before I run the Austin half marathon in a banana suit. Yep, a banana suit. For 13.1 miles. It was a haphazard fundraising ploy I didn’t expect to actually work, but once again, the generosity of those around me surpassed my expectations. It was in preparation for this spectacle that I found myself on a run earlier than I would like to be alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic on a Saturday morning. As I was quietly shuffling my feet next to him, I wondered how I was going to survive the next ten miles when the first ten steps were already rough. Pulling me from my self- doubt, he told me about a co-worker of his who was just diagnosed with an aggressive form of Breast Cancer. He told me about the toll it was taking on her and her family of three little kids. Of course, he suggested Camp Kesem to her, but with everything else going on, she was hesitant to make a commitment for the summer, especially with the uncertainty of everything that comes with a diagnosis freshly hung in the air. He gave her the patented “hard sell” about Camp Kesem the students of his organic chemistry class have heard every semester. Just like it always does, it worked. She finally went home to ask her kids if they would even want to come. After watching our video on the website, they made her apply immediately. For the next nine miles I wasn’t thinking about all the other things I could be doing on a Saturday morning or how much I wanted sleep and food, I was thinking about my family. And her family. Our family. I still find myself amazed and humbled by the opportunity to be a part of Camp Kesem with such an incredible family that will only continue to grow and get stronger. Instead of the survivor shuffle I had mentally prepared myself for, the next nine miles were full of memories of counselor sundaes during messy Olympics, cabin chats full of jokes or tears, sometimes both, and the empowerment ceremony I still draw strength from.