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Last month, three young oncology patients from the pediatrics department at University of South Alabama Physicians Group got the trip of a lifetime thanks to the Sunshine Kids Foundation and Tammy Gale, a clinical nurse for the division of pediatric hematology and oncology at USA. The kids, along with 22 others from across the country, visited Washington D.C. for one week.
“We couldn’t do this for them if it wasn’t for the help of the nurses, like Tammy, who volunteer to go on the trip,” said Brooks Tomb, director of regional offices for the Sunshine Kids Foundation. “With their help, the trips allow the kids to bond with each other away from the hospital, and that really helps their state of mind. They get to be with other kids that they can relate to because they are all in the same situation.”
Gale said this was her first time working with the Sunshine Kids Foundation. “I was excited to take the children to experience something new they have never seen before and give them that freedom,” Gale said. “This trip was a way for the kids to escape from reality and not have to think about things like their chemo treatments. Instead, they got to go somewhere new and make new friends.”
While in Washington D.C., the kids visited the White House, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the WWII Memorial, the Vietnam Vet Memorial, the International Spy Museum, the National Archives and the Smithsonian. They also spent a day at Kings Dominion Theme Park in Virginia and cruised the Potomac River.
The main activity of the trip was their visit to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) headquarters in Quantico, Va. The kids became DEA agents for the day by participating in activities such as playing interactive shooting video games and working one-on-one with an agent. The DEA agents also took the group to a shooting range.
The Sunshine Kids Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Rhoda Tomasco in 1982, provides many programs, national and regional events for children with cancer. These activities are free of charge to the children’s families and hospitals. To learn more, visit www.sunshinekids.org.
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