David Alvey – Guest Contributor
Jul 13 2017
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Isabella Day (R) and her twin sister Jaclyn cool off at Splash Out Childhood Cancer Day at Hawaiian Falls The Colony

Splash Out Childhood Cancer at Hawaiian Falls benefited TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation

TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation recently held their annual Splash Out Childhood Cancer Day at Hawaiian Falls The Colony waterpark, raising thousands of dollars through ticket sales and donations.  More importantly, the event brought together families who are at different stages of their cancer battles and gave a voice to their fight.
Discounted Hawaiian Falls waterpark tickets are still available and are only $20, plus tax (regular price is $28.99, plus tax.) Children two years old and under are free.  Tickets are valid any day thru September 4, 2017, at any of the five Hawaiian Falls waterparks. Tickets must be purchased at to receive the discount. The discount code is TEAMCONNORBK17. Tickets are available for immediate download.

Giving Families a Voice

Five-year-old Isabella Day of Dallas has been fighting stage IV neuroblastoma since she was only nine months old. Surgery, chemotherapy and all other treatments have been ineffective in controlling Isabella’s cancer. But for this day it was hard to tell Isabella apart from her healthy twin sister Jaclyn. They were just two sweet girls laughing and splashing in the water with their mom Leslie.

With childhood cancer it’s not just about beating the cancer. The treatments, mainly designed for adults with cancer then modified for smaller bodies, are harsh. The radiation and chemotherapy often cause long-lasting side effects and health issues.

Charlie White, 8, of Murphy still bears the scars and aftermath of more than three and a half years of cancer treatments. “I’m grateful for the chemotherapy,” said Charlie’s mother Lacy White Gladu, “but now Charlie has obstacles with focusing, which frustrate him in school because he works so hard. Chemo ruined his developing teeth, so he had to have dental surgery. He also had eye surgery to remove warts that were scratching his eye surface, another side effect of cancer treatments. Cancer affects the whole family. It’s devastating news at first, but we got through it, thank God! It’s exhausting both physically and emotionally. That’s why I feel so strongly about funding research for a cure and treatment alternatives.” On this sunny summer day, Charlie was just another boy racing down slides with his brother Connor, 12, and their mom.
Then there’s Kyle Freeland, 23, of Murphy. You wouldn’t normally think of a college student in relation to childhood cancer. But Kyle was originally diagnosed with leukemia (ALL) in 2004 at age 10. “I finished my treatments in December 2007 at 13 years old,” said Kyle. “I was cancer free for almost seven years.” After graduating high school, Kyle went to Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma to pursue a career as a pediatric oncology nurse. “I was halfway through my sophomore year in December 2013 when I relapsed. It’s much different being diagnosed at 20 versus 10. It was much harder the second time around. The complete loss of independence was devastating. I had to leave college and move back home with my parents. I finished my second round of cancer treatments in April 2016.” Kyle is currently pursuing a degree in counseling psychology at Texas Woman’s University in Denton.  But on this day, he enjoyed the freedom of floating down the Lazy River with friends.

Join the Fight Against Childhood Cancer

TeamConnor was founded in honor of Connor Cruse of Frisco, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2005 when he was just four years old. Connor’s parents, Joy and Tait Cruse, promised Connor they would do everything they could to keep other children from having to undergo the difficult journey he endured.  The Cruse family established the TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation in 2008 to help fund childhood cancer research.
"While Connor was fighting for his life, we looked into funding for childhood cancer research," said Joy Cruse. “We discovered that even though cancer kills more children every year than cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, asthma and AIDS combined, the National Cancer Institute allocates less than four-percent of its budget to pediatric cancer. Someone has to stand up for our kids. Everyone knows someone's child, friend, cousin, niece or grandchild that's been affected by cancer. We've got to fight for them."
During his four-year battle with neuroblastoma, Connor endured more than 200 nights in the hospital, 14 surgeries, 40 blood transfusions, 25 rounds of chemo, two bone marrow transplants and countless procedures with visits to specialists in Dallas, Houston, Boston, New York and Guatemala. Connor actually beat neuroblastoma into remission, but the radiation he received caused a secondary cancer that was unstoppable. Connor died July 10, 2009 at age eight.
Last year, TeamConor awarded more than $272,000 to six hospitals across the country to support cutting-edge research for childhood cancers. Over the past 9 years, TeamConnor has raised more than $2 million in its mission to find cures for childhood cancers.  

In addition to funding research projects, TeamConnor donated $10,000 to Children’s Health in Dallas and $10,000 to Cook Children’s in Fort Worth to fund the Art Box Program, which provides resources for hospitals to create personalized boxes of materials, including paints, crayons, markers, coloring books, ipads, and other items for kids to be creative while going through life-saving stem cell transplants in the hospital. These treatments typically result in extended, isolated hospital stays and the Art Box Program drastically improves a patient’s overall experience.

Throughout the year, TeamConnor hosts community events to raise funds for childhood cancer research, including the National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month Concert, September 16; Color Me Green 5K/10K and Caterpillar Dash, October 7; and the Northwestern Mutual Clay Shoot, November 2.  
In addition, TeamConnor’s
Coins for Kids with Cancer program raises funds in schools, churches, offices and organizations across the country. For more information, visit> .

Celebrating 15 years of bringing families closer together, Hawaiian Falls operates waterparks in Garland, The Colony, Mansfield, Roanoke and Waco. More info at>  or> .