On December 23rd I had the honor of visiting two families that have children effected by cancer. My visit was organized by Cal’s Angels as part of their Christmas holiday gift giving. To me it ended up being far more than just delivering gifts to these wonderful children. I had an opportunity to sit with each family and hear about their struggles and accomplishments in dealing with such a terrible disease. It really hit home with me because I too am a cancer survivor. In 2005 I was diagnosed with leukemia. My struggles paled in comparison as to what these children are going through, nevertheless it helped in the understanding of what they deal with on a daily basis.

I would like to share the experiences I had with both families:

My first family I visited was the Garcia’s. They lived on the South side of Chicago. Andrew who was only 14 yrs. old has a brain tumor. His condition has worsened to the point that he has been brought home from the hospitol and remains bed ridden without the ability to communicate. His parents Rebekkah & Gilbert are by his side day and night. They say that he can hear and feel the presence of others, unfortunately without acknowledgement. We brought Andrews presents into his room and open them up as he watched. It was a moment that tears at your heart and brings a tear to the eye.

On a happier note I was also able to spend time with Andrews brother and sister. Gilbert is 12 and Karina is 6. They had so much fun opening presents, even thought it was not officially Christmas. To see the joy in their faces as they ripped apart the gifts made the visit that much more special. We feel deeply for the children effected by cancer, however we cannot lose sight of what it is like to be a sibling of a child with Cancer. I give so much credit to the brothers and sisters for accepting the fact that they must take a second seat to the ones that are affected.

My second family was the Logsdon’s. The parents Michelle & Don have a son Donnie, who has also been effected by Brain cancer. I had an incredible visit with both Donnie and his family. I came into the house and Donnie and his brother Ben though I was Santa Claus because of the big bag of gifts that we brought. Donnie is a big fan of the NHL and a good portion of his gifts we Hockey related. He really got a kick out of the Hawks jersey he received. Since he was such a big fan of the Blackhawks, I brought him a special gift that I had in my own collection. It was a replica of the Stanley Cup ring that each player received in 2015. I am not sure who liked it more, Donnie or his dad. I cannot take away the great time we also had with his brother Ben. Ben just wanted to open every present that was brought, however Michelle held him off from opening everything so he could save a few for Christmas. I am sure that Donnie has his up and down days, but the day I arrived he was smart, witty and a lot of fun to be with. The grandparents were also there with us and I can say they had as much fun with the visit as all  of us did.

This might be the first time that I have become involved with Cal’s Angles, however it is far from being the last. We take so much for granted when we have our health. It humbles you when you see, first hand, the emotional pressure it puts on a family of a child with cancer. I feel so fortunate that I have been given the opportunity to bring  some joy to these kids, if even for a day.

I will now have an ever special reason to bring in the Christmas holidays, for years to come. Thank you again to Cal’s Angels for this opportunity.

Tom Jahnke

You can support and learn more about Cal’s Angels on their website, and I hope you consider a DONATION.