Last fall at our gala, after listening to our FGP mom, Kim speak about the impact FGP had on her family and how we gave her the gift of time with her daughter, Jordan who lost her battle in 2013, I was surprised by something that someone said to me after. Strangely, her statement had never dawned on me. Another mom, who has a Leukemia survivor and was our first FGP family, said that our volunteers were so selfless for choosing to open themselves to our pediatric cancer families. Our conversation keeps coming back to me because volunteering in general is a selfless endeavor but her point was that our volunteers open their hearts to our families knowing that they may love a family who will ultimately have the greatest loss of their lives if their child dies. It made me realize what exceptional people are behind FGP but it also made me curious what their “WHY” is for being involved with FGP.
Because of this, I recently asked our lead volunteers, who are the ones who get to know our families, what makes them stay involved with us as an organization despite the potential heartache:

Helen Jarrett:
For me, it’s empathy. Their journey is going to be SO much harder than mine. This is their child and while I may grow to love them and it will be heartbreaking to lose them, it’s still not my journey. But I can support this family and this child, no matter what the outcome may be. It’s life, life isn’t easy, but it’s even harder if you do not have support. I also consider it an honor to be able to be a small part of their journey.

Stacey Coolican:
I’m helping Cuz ‘been there, done that.’ I want to pay it forward.

Kim Lewis:
I want to pay it forward. I’ve experienced kindness from so many people during difficult times in my life, that if I can provide assistance to a family during this time, I want to do whatever I can.

Kim Eckardt:
I can’t say it any better than Helen. I heard once that you should strive to be a giver not a getter and I can’t think of a better way to give than to help someone in this need. I saw a friend go through this with no help other than myself. She needed FGP. If I were in that situation, I would want some help. Sometimes it’s easier for someone on the outside to step in and help because we aren’t a part of their story. Ok. We can become a side note but like Helen said, it’s their journey and ours is just to help in whatever way they will allow us.

Krista Robey:
I was actually thinking the same thing as Kim…That it’s my way of paying it forward. I try to imagine how I would feel if it was my child, and I know how much I would appreciate someone doing this kind of thing for me and my family. I try not to think about the worst case scenario (the family losing their child) but instead focus on how I can be helpful in the here and now.

Lori Iannazzo:
Being a lead is just a small piece of a big puzzle of some very caring and generous people in our community. I think “trust” for the families and the lead volunteers is key. Not all families may be open to communicate or want help the way WE feel they need it. Like Helen said, “it’s their journey.” At the end of the day, we want their journey to be a little smoother.

Rhonda Clements:
It is an awesome feeling to know that through FGP, I have an opportunity to make a difference for families who are fighting to save their child’s life. It gives me a different perspective on the importance of living life to the fullest every day while making life long friends that I know were truly blessed by me making the choice to volunteer.

See what I mean? Exceptional people involved with FGP! Thank you to all of our lead volunteers past and present! Next week is National Volunteer Week and we are starting early. You are truly appreciated! Thank you for all you do!!

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please follow us on Facebook to learn about upcoming trainings or volunteer opportunities. Or get in touch with me, Andie McConnell at for more information!