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Camp Smile-A-Mile Brings Mile-Wide Smiles to Alabama and WHAA is Proud to Help



Camp Smile-A-Mile Brings Mile-Wide Smiles to Alabama and Walking Horse Association of Alabama is Proud to Help

By Sharon Higginbotham

Walking Horse Association of Alabama is a “family” of like-minded friends who enjoy all aspects of the Tennessee Walking Horse and have a great time together, from planning the show season schedule, to barn parties and colt previews, to competition and the awards banquet that recognizes individual accomplishments. But, one of the proudest moments for the Association each year is when it presents a check to Camp Smile-A-Mile, Alabama’s Program for Children with Cancer. The donation is a product of their collective labor to help a charity that is near and dear to their hearts. WHAA President Gerald Campbell considers this one of the greatest accomplishments of the WHAA and considers Camp Smile-A-Mile one of the worthiest of Alabama’s many charitable organizations, giving so much to the young cancer patients of the state and their families.


 
When Camp Smile-A-Mile was created in 1985, the goal was to provide year-round recreational and educational experiences for young cancer patients, their families, as well as young cancer survivors from Alabama at no cost to them.
 
As the vision became a reality, these special children were able to participate in a normal camping environment while remaining under medical supervision. Before Camp Smile-A-Mile, many children were not able to go to a sleepover camp because they were undergoing chemotherapy. Now, every child up to age eighteen who is a current or former cancer patient can go to camp through the Camp SAM Program. Qualified medical personnel from the Hematology-Oncology Department at Children’s of Alabama, the state’s pediatric hospital, stay at the camp during each camping session. They administer chemotherapy as well as take care of all the first aid needs of the campers.


 
Camp Smile-A-Mile’s campsite is located at Children’s Harbor on beautiful Lake Martin on the Tallapoosa River. Children’s Harbor donates their facilities for all of Camp Smile-A-Mile’s Lake Martin Camps.
 Since Camp SAM’s inception, the original goal and many others have been realized. The programs have expanded to include year-round activities for juvenile cancer patients, their parents, their siblings and former childhood cancer patients. Camp SAM serves more than 400 children and young adults each year.
 To provide funds for all of these programs, Camp SAM is involved in many fundraising activities throughout the year, however, does not receive any funding from The United Way, the American Cancer Society or the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society.  Camp SAM is a 501(c) 3 tax-exempt organization which relies on individual and corporate giving for additional financial support.


 
Since 1997, the Walking Horse Association of Alabama has dedicated its fundraising efforts to Camp Smile-A-Mile. With their most recent donation of $16,500 made at their awards banquet in Cullman, Ala., on Jan. 19, 2013, WHAA’s total donation to Camp SAM over the past 15 years comes to $357,000. Members of the Walking Horse Association of Alabama and the WHAA Ladies Auxiliary work year-round at their horse shows to give a substantial donation annually to this great cause that benefits the children of the state of Alabama.


 
Bruce Hooper, Executive Director of Camp Smile-A-Mile, said, “WHAA’s amazing generosity through the years has allowed more than 1400 children to attend Camp. WHAA stands out as a true giant over the years in its abiding commitment to Camp SAM which has enabled us to expand our outreach and programs to young cancer patients and their families. Without the significant support of WHAA we simply would not be where we are today.”



The commitment of the Walking Horse Association of Alabama to the goals and dreams of Camp Smile-A-Mile is an excellent example of how the walking horse industry gets involved in and is committed to the projects of its individual and collective communities all across this nation. On any given Saturday night from early March until late October, sponsoring organizations of walking horse shows work hard to make meaningful donations to local charities that in turn are able to make live-changing contributions to their respective communities.

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