“The best part of the Hilton Head Heroes vacation is that it gave us a chance to be an ordinary family. We got time to see our boys swim in the pool, watch movies and dig in the sand at the beach. We forgot about the challenges that come from having a child with a life threatening illness, you gave us a family vacation and a lifetime of memories. You gave us a time of peace during a time when our lives did not offer this. Our family thanks you for making our dreams come true–for having a wonderful family centered vacation that we will never forget.”
Steve, Katrina, Jonathan and Joshua Acree
“Hilton Head Heroes is an absolutely wonderful organization! It allows children and their families to get away together and escape the day-to-day medical hardships that they are facing. Many of these families would not be able to take such a vacation, but Hilton Head Heroes goes above and beyond to assure that they are treated wonderfully and have an experience that they will never forget. I really cannot say enough good things about this organization and the volunteers that work together to brighten the children’s and their families lives.”
Child Life Specialist
Backus Children’s Hospital, Savannah, GA
“Our center, the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders of Palmetto Health Richland Hospital, has been referring families to the Hilton Head Heroes program for the past five years. The diagnosis of a child with cancer or a serious blood disorder impacts not only the child but the entire family. The family is forced to adjust to the incredible disruption this crisis causes, and find a “new normal” for their family. The HHH’s program has provided a wonderful opportunity for families to “get away” from the stressful environment of the hospital and the regular stressors of grocery shopping and preparing meals. The families are able to retreat to a safe and fun environment where they can be pampered and can be reminded that there is still a time and place for laughter and relaxation. This time away helps to restore their spirits and renew their energy for the long and winding road they still must travel. Programs such as HHH have been a true blessing for our families, and we thank everyone associated with HHH for making this resource possible.”
Julian E. Ruffin, Ph.D.
Coordinator of Psychosocial Programs
Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders – Palmetto Health Richland
“My wife and I get the reward of being with the family. We see the kids eyes light up when they enter and explore their holiday home, the excitement of selecting where they’ll sleep, opening their gifts, telling about their life, school and interests. So many people work on this program and we are the lucky ones to see it working.
Although it is not easy to hear about their treatment, their courage has really helped us to gain an appreciation of the strength with the Hero families. The program REALLY WORKS.”
Joan and John Geisler
“We can’t thank you enough for extending the Hospitality of Hilton Head Island to our family. The trip exceeded our dreams and everything went flawlessly. The people of the island are very gracious and kind and we had a wonderful time. Daniel and I had actually been praying for a vacation (without staying with relatives as Daniel always adds) and just a few days later the chaplain from the hospital called to tell us about your invitation. The trip was a true blessing. We will send some photos soon and I know Daniel wants to write you a thank you note as well. Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts.”
Donna, Bill and Daniel Choctanowski
“Thank you Hilton Head Heroes. This has been one of my favorite vacations. I had so many people be good to me but you’re the best. Hilton Head Island rocks! The next kid who comes will be glad they did.”
“Hilton Head Heroes is a wonderful organization which has been a tremendous blessing to so many of our families. I am a social worker at the Medical College of Georgia and our patient population is engaged in a “fight against cancer”. This fight requires every bit of energy, strength and courage that the patient and family can muster. They are often drained both physically and emotionally.
One mother stated she felt like a “queen” all week long while on Hilton Head Island. She was so appreciative of this unique opportunity to take her 3 kids on their first beach vacation ever. Being a single parent and unable to work since her 8 year old son was diagnosed with cancer, HHH’s was an answer to her prayers. She had a desire to spend time with her family and create memories and “enjoy one another” away from chemo, clinic and medicines. They were able to do that before her son relapsed the following winter. Another family of 7 could not afford a week at the beach for such a large family. They too were able to make memories that would last a lifetime. Sadly their son died the following summer. Thanks for all your hard work, love and commitment to these special families dealing with chronically ill children and/or kids with a life threatening illness. God bless you abundantly! We appreciate you!”
Dana Kaminer, LMSW
“Thank you for what you do for HERO kids and their families. We really enjoyed our stay and love Hilton Head Island. We have not had a vacation in four years. My husband has a benign tumor on his spine and brain stem and has to have surgery and radiation. Our oldest child EASTON has osteosarcoma in his left arm and has had a complete bone replacement, chemo and radiation. So our life has been spent in the hospital for what seems like forever. Thank you for this amazing week away from the madness of our lives and the fight to survive.”
The Lankford Family
“Words can not express how much we appreciated the vacation you provided for us this week. The experiences will forever be memories that we cherish. Because of Hilton Head Heroes our family laughed together again and forgot if just for a moment all the bad times and hospital visits we have had the past two years. Your actions and kindness are so appreciated.”
The Bloodworth Family
“Thank you so much for your generous gift of our HERO vacation. It will help us prepare for the next stage of our lives and the continuing battle with our son’s cancer diagnosis. We will always hold Hilton Head Island in our hearts and minds as a memory to cherish forever.”
“There really are no words to express what this week has meant to my family and our three children. Out oldest has been battling cancer since she was six….at sixteen it has returned with a vengeance, and no amount of hospital treatments or doctors can seem to get it under control. This week we just tried to forget all about being “sick”. We went to the beach, rode bikes and laughed. The photos on the beach, provided to us by Faith, are something we will always hold dear to our hearts. Thank you for this incredible gift. I am amazed that strangers on a small island off the coast of Georgia care about a family living in Florida! You are truly angels on earth.”
The Smith Family
“This past week we were able to all be in the same room at the same time. This seems like a small thing, but for a busy family with four children, both parents working to provide…it was huge. Our youngest has bone cancer. She is a darling little four year old, who attacks each day with joy and just does not complain. She has been so much the past year, chemo, bone marrow transplants and 120 days in the hospital. We did not realize that as a family we had totally lost touch with each other. Thank you for this week, the meals, the beach, the bikes, boat rides everything. We feel ready to return to tackle our everyday lives.”
The Frank Family
“This entire vacation has been surreal from the very beginning. You have all donate an amazing job of helping us forget our worries and cares. Jacob (our true hero) has been so content and relaxed all week, you would never know he is battling cancer.
For us (mom & dad) you have helped us reconnect as husband and wife. I work days and my husband works nights, seven days a week. So we just have zero family time. This week has meant the world to all of us.
Our littlest Jordan was treated like a prince all week (along with King Jake). They were all on cloud nine all week.
To the entire Hilton Head Heroes organization, thank you for this experience. You are amazing, kind and giving people.”
“Curtis’ vacation was totally unforgettable. Curtis had his first hip surgery on 9/6 and his 2nd on 11/4. He has not been able to walk since the first surgery and has had to wear a SPICA brace/immobilizer since 9/6. I took a few of our beach pictures to each hospitalization (each was a week with 3 days in ICU) and it was so nice to remind him of the fun he had and during these days.
Please know that on this snowy day in Kentucky, that I am sitting with misty eyes and remembering your kindness and the hard work along with the generosity of several people, that made a HUGE dream come true for us. There are things that you wish for your children and when there are special health circumstances and autism involved, well….a lot of your options are taken away. I certainly don’t live day to day reminding myself that Curtis has a terminal genetic disorder because I can’t live in dark clouds when I have this beautiful boy and there is so much sunshine and beautiful things for us to experience in the world. You will probably never realize how AMAZING your gift to us was.”
“I am contacting your organization for multiple reasons. I would like to simply state THANK YOU for assisting in providing my family with an amazing vacation in August. It was my family’s first ever vacation and it was without a doubt a memorable and well planned one. We were granted the vacation because of my brother, Sheridan Fuller, who was battling leukemia. I never was able to properly thank your organization for what you all have done for my family and especially my brother because the week after we left the vacation home my brother’s health diminished greatly, resulting in him being hospitalized on September 2, 2015 and him ultimately passing away on October 20, 2015.
I would like to sincerely thank your organization for providing us with a retreat and surrounding us with beauty before the storm. Again, from the bottom of our hearts I simply cannot thank you enough for what you did for us.”
“Hosting for a Hilton Head Heroes family during their week-long stay at the Heroes House is an amazing as well as heart-warming experience. This gift to the “Hero” child and family is, after all, the heart and soul of the Hilton Head Heroes mantra. However, the perhaps unexpected gift from the experience is what one receives as a volunteer host . One is compelled to be cognizant of several gifts which most of us share—our own good health, how fortunate we are to live here on this beautiful island amidst abundant natural beauty as well as pleasant climate, and what a generous, kind and giving community it is that we are members of. As a host, I have had the opportunity to share all of those gifts with our Heroes—and consider myself blessed to be able to do so.”
“I am less than 24 hours home from Hilton Head, and I still tear up thinking about the miraculous week we had. It was truly a slice of Heaven on Earth for us. This morning Nolan saw his oncologist for a routine visit, and the doctor told us that getting to the 1 year off treatment mark is a huge hurdle for Nolan. It is a very good sign that our hopes of no cancer returning will come about. Just walking into the hospital today after being at Hilton Head was a reminder of how glorious these memories are and how they can surpass all the memories of staying in the hospital while Nolan was so sick from chemo that he was on a morphine drip with 104 fevers unable to eat for days and his skin peeling off of his hands and feet.
Our trip to Hilton Head was the most amazing time our family has spent together ever. The family bike rides on the trails with the crisp air and picturesque scenery were undoubtedly our top memory. I told Kathy that we had a little miracle, and one of our older children that had always been afraid of riding a bicycle finally overcame his fear, and we were able to take a bike ride as a family for the first time. The light house, the dolphin cruises, and the mini-golf all ranked up there, too. Nolan on stage with Greg Russell was so much fun, and the concert was on his one year anniversary for off-treatment!
We were blown away by all the restaurant gift certificates. Jeffrey and I had no idea that we would be gifted so much when we arrived. The family photo shoot was also an amazing gift for us. We have not had a family photo shoot with Jeffrey and I since my 2nd pregnancy. Knowing that we were going to do that actually got me to buy and wear make up for the first time since Nolan was diagnosed! Life was so crazy from then on, and I never stopped to take care of myself. This is just one example of how this trip has touched us in more ways than you will know. We will never be able to say thank you enough for all that you did for us.
May God bless you and all that work so hard to make HHH the blessing that it is.”