ACCOIN Splashdown party 2016
(this link was broken in our August newsletter and we wanted to be sure that you received the full article)

Besides the expected fun and excitement that one would experience during a trip to a waterpark, the annual ACCOIN splashdown party was so much more and meant so much more than just a good time with good food.  As my family and I were standing in line to get into the park I found myself peering through the line to see if I recognized any ACCOIN families, although I did not at that time I began to wonder how many of these people were here for the same reason.  Sure, I guess you could say ALL of us were there to enjoy the sunshine and the water-park in general but I mean how many of us were there because childhood cancer had touched our lives. 
     As we made it into the park and got to where ACCOIN had set us up, my family perched ourselves on a little hill under a tree where you could see the whole shin-dig.  As families began to pile into the meeting area, I began to see some familiar faces from clinic, and many not so familiar faces.  As I stood in line to get some delicious food, I overheard a fellow discussing his bout with cancer as a child and what it was like to now be here with his young children (he thought he may never have) so many years later. 
      I returned to our little perch with food in hand looking out on all these families feeling this amazing sense of camaraderie.  Yes, we came to the splashdown party knowing there would be fun to be had, good food to enjoy all put on by amazing, dedicated, golden-hearted folks, but we walked away with so much more.  A sense of belonging, being in an area with that many people whose lives were all touched by childhood cancer, whose lives were all forever changed, who all had their own unique stories to tell, and yet somehow were all the same.  Looking upon all the glorious faces, all so very different and unique, realizing hey this is my TRIBE, these are my people, knowing that a conversation could be had about my sons treatment and the response wouldn’t just be a pity filled look or a search for the right words to say but a thoughtful nod saying “ya, I hear you, I know what you mean."
     My family is not social bunch, we are very happy in our own little world eating pizza on Friday nights and watching movies in our living room celebrating the week’s end as a family, but these events ACCOIN puts on for families are special.  These events let us know we aren’t alone in this, there are people out there that get it that know what it feels like to race your child to the  ER at 11pm for a fever hoping his counts are good enough it won’t mean a hospital stay.  These people buy the jumbo bottle of hand sanitizer, and cringe at the thought of flu season and sending your child to school where he may befriend a child of an anti vaxxer. 
     These people know what it’s like to hear those words “your child has cancer” after which life will never be the same.  So my unsocial bunch makes every effort to make it to these functions, not just because there is fun to be had and good food to eat, because you can always count on that, but because although we are all so very different that one part that has rocked our worlds to the very core, that has changed us forever and gnaws at us every day is the same.  Yes we all know it is very true “… can’t fight cancer alone”  it is also very true that families need that shoulder to cry on, that ear to listen or that TRIBE to empower us.  So thank you ACCOIN!!!!
      Thank you for the FUN for the FOOD for the TRIBE and most importantly thank you for all you do for families.  Your support your dedication and your selflessness are immeasurable and so VERY appreciated!
                                                                                                Grateful Tribe member,
                                                                                                   Kari Fleming

American Childhood Cancer Organization Inland Northwest • PO Box 8031 • Spokane • WA • 99203
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