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Smile-A-Mile looking for supporters

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

Smile-A-Mile, which provides services to children receiving cancer treatments, has moved its 5K to a virtual platform.

Kellie Reece of Smile-A-Mile recently spoke to the Clanton Kiwanis Club about the organization and the services it provides to help children with cancer and their families.

“What Smile-A-Mile does is we provide programing at no cost to families at every stage of the cancer journey,” Reece said.

This includes bringing “a little bit of joy and a little bit of happiness” while the children are receiving treatment at Children’s of Alabama.

“We fund a doctor at Children’s of Alabama that is being paid to do cancer research,” Reece said. “Until there’s a cure, there’s Smile-A-Mile.”

Programing includes camps, bereavement sessions, camps for siblings, monthly special activities and college scholarships for childhood cancer survivors.

Those wanting to support the organization in its mission can register for the walk with a $35 donation at smileamile.com/fundraising-events/smile-a-mile-5k-virtual. The walk or run can be completed anywhere but should be completed by Sept. 26.

“In Chilton County to be such a small community, you have absolutely a much proportionately higher number of children in this county who have or have had cancer,” Reece said.

There are more than 40 children in Chilton County that have been diagnosed with some type of cancer.

Reece said wearing a mask in public is an everyday necessity for children with cancer for the years of their treatment.

Children’s of Alabama has seen 65 new children cancer patients since March.

Smile-A-Mile started in 1985 with the establishment of a camp for children who were battling cancer. What started as one week of camp has grown to seven sessions.

In response to COVID-19 restrictions, Smile-A-Mile moved camp to an online platform this year. Each child received a package of activities and participated in daily video calls.

The organization has also expanded its services during COVID-19 to provide programing for all of Children’s of Alabama patients. Reece said this has been done through the hospital’s TVs.

“Once a week, they get to see my face in the whole hospital, and we provide activity kits and provide programing for the whole hospital, not just kid’s with cancer,” Reece said.

Reece has worked with the organization for the past 22 years, having started as a volunteer.

A number of volunteer opportunities are available. For more information, visit smileamile.com/volunteers/.