In an article from last year titled "The Gift of Siblings", Frank Bruni wrote, "My siblings have certainly seen me at my worst, and I’ve seen them at theirs. No one has bolted. It’s as if we signed some contract long ago, before we were even aware of what we were getting into, and over time gained the wisdom to see that we hadn’t been duped. We’d been graced: with a center of gravity; with an audience that never averts its gaze and doesn’t stint on applause."
In the last year of volunteering at Kyle's Kamp, I have met not only children with cancer, but the brothers and sisters who fight alongside them. They are younger and older, boys and girls. Grant, Robert and Maddie. Troy, Jake, Ian and Abby. Ceci, Matthew and Cole. All healthy, vibrant children. All who desperately need our prayers and help. In the midst of those meetings, I often think of the unique gift of my own siblings, the special way that our hearts are joined and the comfort I feel at the assumption that we will grow old, holding our family together even as generations come and go behind and in front of us.
For these reasons, Sandy and Chris Rupp, parents of Gavin Rupp who was lost to brain cancer in 2013, have designated that funds raised at the Kyle's Kamp Gavin Rupp Open golf tournament will honor Gavin's brother and sister, Ian and Abby, and the many other siblings of cancer patients in the Washington, DC and Northern Virginia area. These funds have helped Kyle's Kamp to support existing programs and create new ones to meet the needs of the brave and dedicated brothers and sisters who have found themselves partners in a battle in which no veteran warrior would easily engage.
Dr. Amanda Thompson, of Children's National Medical Center says, "Because of Sibstrong, we have been able to create resource libraries at both the downtown and Northern VA campuses focused on siblings of children with cancer. We have a monthly ‘Sibling Spotlight’ that features a special boy or girl, nominated by their parent or their brother or sister in treatment, who deserves to be recognized as a hero; that individual gets their picture and story posted in clinic and is rewarded with a certificate and Target gift card. We have been able to create sibling comfort care bags for siblings who are grieving the loss of their brother and sister. And we have launched the SibStrong Smiles Wish Program, where nominated siblings receive a small wish that recognizes that they are part of the cancer journey, that they are not forgotten, and that they are special too. We’ve conducted two wishes to date—one involved a horseback riding lesson and meeting with Elsa from Frozen and the other involved a dance lesson and karaoke machine. This is a unique program, made possible by the Gavin Rupp Open, that has been invaluable to our patients and families."