Words by Tess Becker
Sometimes kids find themselves in situations that, put bluntly, aren’t fair to them. They may be forced to live in a grown-up world much faster than they normally should have to.
This is usually what happens when a child is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, as it stops them feeling and acting like a kid.
This is where an organization like A Kid Again comes into play. It helps create a community of families dealing with similar complications, that also helps bring kids on adventures that they might miss out on otherwise. A Kid Again is open to every child with a life-threatening illness under the age of 20.
How does it work?
Adventures are a ‘cost-free, care-free experience for your entire immediate family,’ which they explain is a break from the hospital, doctors, and the like that chronically ill kids may be used to. These adventures may take the form of a theme park visit, a trip to the zoo, a sporting event, and many more things like that.
Any family that doesn’t live near a chapter of A Kid Again can still be a part of the program where they’ll send out what they call an ‘adventure in a box’ filled with activities for the family to do together. The most recent box had a dye kit for example.
The organization itself has been around for a little while. It was founded by Kathy Derr in 1995 in response to all the love and support her family received while her son Christopher was going through treatment for an inoperable brain tumor.
“While he was going through treatment, we were surrounded by so much love and support that just after he passed we decided, you know what, everybody deserves this much love and support which is so important for the families,” Kathy tells Smiley News. “My family and friends helped create different events and activities and outings and everything and while he was going through treatment, I never cooked a meal because the friends and families provided all of them.
“So after he passed away, we decided families need something constantly to look forward to – something to get past the next treatment, something to forget about the medical bills and just keep that family bond as strong as possible.”
Since its inception, A Kid Again has helped over 206,000 people, and just last year they served over 12,000. They’re trying to expand with 13 more chapters in the works at the moment.
A lot of the families that A Kid Again helps live below the poverty line, so this type of aid helps them do things that would be next to impossible while also juggling the finances of helping their children with medical care. It also provides an outlet for siblings, who may be making sacrifices, to live a little more freely even if only for a little bit.
A volunteer for A Kid Again, Theresa Bennett, highlights how important it is to her to work for an organization like it.
“If we can give them the opportunity to just have something to look forward to and just to have a great day to just forget about all the doctor's appointments and everything they're going through and just have fun,” Theresa tells Smiley News.
“You will know immediately why we do what we do when you see these smiling kids. That's what keeps people coming back.”