I once again chose Okizu as my charity partner to support their amazing work and because childhood cancer sucks! In 1996, my mother at 51 yrs old passed away in Ireland from non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My mother was very fortunate to have her siblings and extended family spend time visiting her in the hospital. I couldn’t help but notice other patients whose families were not able to provide similar support. Through an introduction from Barbara Novogradac, I began volunteering at the UCSF Pediatric bone marrow transplant unit. It was through this, that I learned about Okizu and their summer camps. I served as a camp counselor for two summers in their SIBs camp and my wife and I have been counselors at Family Camp. While it is heart breaking to see kids and their families deal with childhood cancer, it is also inspiring. The strength that these kids demonstrate in the face of such adversity is amazing – they are true little warriors. I will seek to channel their strength as I face the adversities of the row but these will pale in comparison to what these kids are forced to handle.
Okizu (oak-eye-zoo) comes from the Sioux language and means unity, to come together, to heal from a hurt, to make whole. The mission of Okizu is to help all members of families affected by childhood cancer to heal through peer support, respite, mentoring, and recreational programs.
For 40 years, Okizu has been committed to the continuing support of the Oncology, Siblings, Family, Bereavement, and Teens-N-Twenties programs. Children who are diagnosed with cancer miss a normal childhood. Their illness, treatment, and complications can keep them from enjoying activities that often are taken for granted. And yet these children, like all children, need the opportunity to grow, experiment, and discover independence. Okizu began with the belief that a residential camp can be an ideal setting for children struggling with cancer to explore and enjoy a normal life experience, while interacting with others who truly understand their illness.
Okizu quickly learned that all family members, including the ill child, parents, and siblings, are all impacted in unique and powerful ways by childhood cancer. The opportunity for interactions with genuine peers and the strong sense of community fostered by a residential camp environment provide valuable emotional and practical support for continuing the cancer journey, while also allowing everyone to take a break from their routine and have a great time.
Because many of the families Okizu serves are already financially stressed from the expenses associated with their child’s illness, Okizu does not charge a fee to attend Camp Okizu and families attend all programs free of charge. Okizu is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization (as well as Guidestar accredited) and your donation is tax-deductible. 100% of the funds donated for Owen's charity partner will go directly to Okizu - none will be used to fund the costs of the row.