Believe In Tomorrow has been receiving support from a special group of individuals that have participated in the same fundraising golf tournament for over 20 years. Employees of Exelon Corporation and the contractors they work with have donated individually and participated in the Calvert Cliffs Golf Tournament to benefit Believe In Tomorrow since 1995, raising a total of over $200,000!
Each year, golfers are encouraged to invite friends, family, and coworkers to the tournament at Swan Point Yacht and Country Club. Adam Denton first participated years ago when his father, Dick Denton, a Cycle Manager at the Calvert Cliffs power plant, invited him to play. Adam, now a Proposal Coordinator with Naval Systems, Inc., has played in the tournament ever since. “I’ve played for so long now, I can’t honestly remember how many years it’s been,” he comments. Adam knew his participation was for a good cause when talking with Believe In Tomorrow staff and listening to presentations at the tournaments. He realized the true value of the organization, though, when his 4-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in April of 2015.
“We had our annual beach trip planned for 2015 but had to cancel when we learned of Abigail’s diagnosis. Our social worker at Johns Hopkins Hospital overheard how disappointed Abigail was about the cancelation and suggested we reach out to Believe In Tomorrow to learn about their respite program,” Adam notes. “I recognized the logo and name immediately. I had a basic understanding of the organization, but no idea what it does for families like ours.”
The Dentons applied to Believe In Tomorrow’s respite housing program and were accepted for a trip to the Children’s House by the Sea in Ocean City, MD, during September of 2015. To say Abigail and her two sisters were excited is an understatement. “Abigail had her bag packed weeks in advance, with every bathing suit and three pairs of sandals. We tried to tell her that it may not be that warm, but she told us ‘It’s the beach! You can’t wear winter clothes at the beach!’” Adam remembers. Abigail’s younger sister even thought they were going to a city in the ocean, waking up each morning to ask Adam and his wife, “We go to see the mermaids at the ocean city today?”
At the time of their trip, Abigail was in the midst of her ALL treatment, taking medication with side effects like shooting leg pains. When the pain started on the ride to Ocean City, Adam and his wife offered to turn back multiple times, but Abigail would force a smile on her face and claim, “No, really I’m fine. Keep going!” When the family arrived at the Children’s House by the Sea, though, all that pain seemed to disappear. “Abigail ran into the house and claimed her room, grinning while going through all the books, movies, and toys. From the time we arrived until that first night, there was no such thing as cancer,” Adam comments.
Unfortunately, the Dentons were unable to stay much longer. Abigail developed a high fever on their first night, and the family followed the precautions of doctors to return home, where they could be close to Johns Hopkins Hospital. While there trip was short, the true value of it was realized long before they arrived in Ocean City. “For the weeks leading up to the trip, it was all we talked about as a family. We didn’t sit around the dinner table and talk about pills or Abigail’s next clinic visit. We asked each other things like, ‘What’s the first thing you’re going to do when we get to the beach?’” Adam remembers.
When considering his unique perspective as a donor turned participant, Adam had this to say for anyone who might not know how valuable Believe In Tomorrow can really be, “You have no idea how much it means to a family that’s in a situation with a sick child to just have a place to get away. Not only get away, but get safely away, to a place where you don’t have to explain your situation. It’s so much different than checking in to a hotel. It’s almost like visiting an uncle’s house, where you’re considered family. For parents, it’s an incredible relief. For children, it’s better than Christmas.”