A few of my favorite charities

Today is Giving Tuesday, a ‘global generosity movement.’ Falling the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, it is a day to give, collaborate and celebrate generosity. Charities look to this day to raise signifiant donations to support their programs. On this special day of generosity, I wanted to share a few of my favorite charities (if you need some ideas!).

There are thousands of amazing charities that support a variety of causes, from health to animals to environment and so many more. As a three-time cancer survivor, I’ve been an advocate since my bone cancer diagnosis 22 years ago. Over the years, I’ve been involved with many great charities. I volunteer my time and talent, host fundraising events, make donations, raise awareness and help wherever I can. I also am a huge horse lover. I rode horses for 14 years before surgery for bone cancer kept me out of the saddle. But I love supporting horse-related organizations as you’ll read below.

If you’re in search of organizations to support, here are a few of my favorite charities:

Biking for LIVESTRONG

LIVESTRONG: It’s no secret that I’m a big supporter of this organization, serving as a national Leader volunteer and advocate, biking across Iowa with Team LIVESTRONG and sharing their cancer support information whenever I can. As a three-time cancer survivor, I’ve benefited numerous times from their free programs. Among the benefits provided to people facing cancer are fertility assistance, navigation services (for all steps through cancer), school programs, YMCA exercise programs and more.

Camp Mak-A-Dream: This amazing organization, located in the mountains of Montana, changed my life as a cancer survivor. Age-appropriate camp sessions are offered free of charge for cancer survivors ages 6-40, including a siblings camp. Survivors in and out of treatment are welcome as an onsite medical center lets volunteer doctors and nurses manage any health issues. I first attended this camp during their young adult conference, shortly after I finished treatment for bone cancer. I returned another year, then got involved as a volunteer, board member and eventually staff member for a few years. This is truly a life-changing place for those who attend.

Volunteering at Horses’ Haven

Horses Haven: This Michigan based charity provides a safe place for neglected, abandoned or owner surrender horses and ponies (and a few donkeys). Their focus the past few years has been on rehabilitating and adopting out the animals. I’m in awe of the hard work and dedication of the almost all volunteer barn crews.

The SAMFund: Being a young adult is tough enough; add cancer to the mix and life can be even more challenging. The Samfund provides support for young adult cancer survivors as they recover from the financial impact of cancer treatment. The organization provides direct financial assistance and free online support and education. I first met the founder, Samantha, at a young adult cancer survivors conference at Camp Mak-A-Dream (see above). We clicked immediately and have been friends since. I’m proud of the hard work and positive impact she’s made to support other young adult cancer survivors.

Camp Casey: Another favorite horse-related organization, Camp Casey provides horseback riding experiences and parties for children with cancer in southeast and west Michigan areas. A horse arrives at the child’s home for rides in the neighborhood and a small party. Overnight experiences at a horse ranch are also offered to families facing cancer.

Cancer Support Community: Social and emotional support play critical roles in the treatment and support of people facing cancer, including caregivers and family members. Cancer Support Community is a leader in this area, hosting more than 170 locations worldwide, plus online support and education materials related to an array of cancer types and issues.

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network: New treatment options, preventive screenings, research and other advancements in the fight against cancer come from thousands working together with our legislators to push for funding and bills (read my blog on the benefits of research). ACS CAN is a leader in this field and I’m proud to serve as the lead volunteer in my Congressional district. From meeting with my state and federal reps, attending meetings in Washington, DC, speaking at events and trainings, recruiting new volunteers or anything else to help make a difference, I know that we all make a difference when working together. I also know that I am alive, after three cancers, thanks to the efforts of organizations like ACS CAN.

Other ways to help:

Remember too that as much as monetary donations make a big impact, donations of items and time help nonprofits. I volunteer often for several charities because it’s my way of giving back and fulfilling my passion of helping others. However, I also love selecting items from Camp Mak-A-Dream’s wish list before each camp season and also get excited shopping at the local tack store for items on Horses’ Haven’s wish list. Another reminder is that any donation amount helps. It all adds up to make a difference!

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