Lions and Wings and Connections
On a warm evening, the WSRE studio in Pensacola, Florida filled with people. Mothers and fathers joined oncologists from Nemours Children's Clinic and representatives from the American Cancer Society, Florida Department of Health, Covenant Hospice, Gulf Coast Wings of Hope, Sacred Heart Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House.
Together, they participated in a WSRE special, Connecting the Community: Childhood Cancer , scheduled to follow the PBS documentary, A Lion in the House . The volunteers came to offer resources to the WSRE viewing community. They were excited and surprised that it was also an opportunity to find possible new partners.
"The Cancer Society wasn't aware of Wings of Hope, a support group for families of children with cancer," WSRE Outreach Director Jill Hubbs said. "Right in our studio, people were trading business cards. Connections were being made."
Natalee Brooks, founder of Gulf Coast Wings of Hope, became part of that connection. Her daughter, Ashlan, has leukemia. "Ashlan was so sick and we felt so alone," Brooks said. "We started Wings of Hope because we needed support." WSRE asked the Brooks family to share their story in the local documentary. "You can't help somebody if you haven't walked it," Brooks said. "We've walked it, so we said yes." Since then, Ashlan has turned 6 and has grown healthy enough to start school.
WSRE's partnerships with participating organizations have also grown. WSRE participated in Relay for Life , an overnight event designed to celebrate survivorship and raise money for research.