Editor’s Note: On July 12, City Dads Group sponsors the Dads4Kesem walk across the UK. Our goal: having our members and friends donate at least $1,000 in total to benefit the creation of the new Camp Kesem chapter at University of Maryland. In this post, one of those Dads4Kesem — and L.A. Dads Group member — Whit Honea writes about why he is making this trek.
Childhood. We all had one. We were all children and all that comes with it, and the experience thereof has greatly impacted our adult lives and our own parenting in ways that we may not fully understand. That’s where the similarities start to blur.
Many of us may look back upon childhood as an innocent tale of nostalgic wonder, checkered with bits of life lesson and pubescent awkwardness, but for others it might have been a time too full of hardships and obstacles — with varying degrees of loss — leaving childhood not something to cherish, but something they had to tolerate, survive and overcome. Cancer tends to play an active part in those stories, disrupting without rhyme or reason, and holding no regard for youth or the damage done to it.
Cancer is to childhood as cancer is to anything: cruel and destructive, the active march of the darkly uncaring. Most of us, unfortunately, have had our lives touched by cancer, whether we have faced it ourselves or love someone who did. Cancer is far too common, not only affecting those inflicted, but everyone around them. It leaves no stone unturned. Rather, it throws them all, aiming for everything breakable: hearts, bones, promises and windows.
For parents diagnosed with cancer, their journey is many things: unique and difficult, full of pain and a quest for hope, the pondering of so many unknowns, moments that cannot linger long enough and those that won’t go away. No two experiences are the same, but one common factor is the toll upon their children, the changes made and the innocence they are losing.
And while there is no way to fix such things, there is a way to allow those children a week of what once was — a way to enjoy childhood in an environment that embraces their respective experiences by providing a safe place to find those pieces of them grown faded and forgotten. It is a chance for childhood to be fun again.
Camp Kesem does that.
That is why on July 10, 2016, a group of 12 men, of which I am one, each with active voices in the online parenting world, will embark on a different kind of journey — more than 84 miles walking along Hadrian’s Wall in England — to raise donations for a new Camp Kesem chapter at the University of Maryland. The camp will honor the late Oren Miller, who attended Maryland (as did his wife Beth), and whose young children would be able to attend the camp.
Oren Miller was one of us. He founded a Facebook group of dad bloggers that has more than 1,000 members, and he shared his passions on life, love and family in endless conversations and written inspiration. He was a good man who lost his battle to cancer, a battle fought with amazing grace, and who has left a legacy behind him. We want to add to it.
The Dads4Kesem are hoping to raise the $40,000 required to start a new camp, and you can help. You can follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #Dads4Kesem and #TheWalkingDads to interact with our daily sponsors and the stories we’ll share, and you can make donations directly to our website.
The walk is for Camp Kesem, and it is for Oren — his wife and children, and the lives they have all touched — but it is even bigger than that, bigger than all of us. The walk is for childhood, what it is, can, and hope it should be. It is for a generation of stories yet to be written.
I am honored to be a part of it.