Over the course of the summer
months, I come in contact with many of the Hero families who visit
Hilton Head. Many of them will make the trip down to Harbour Town
on a summer evening and sit out in the crowd during one of my shows.
Some choose to just blend in with the crowd and remain anonymous
while others readily identify themselves to me as one of our families.
One particular story from a
previous summer stands out from the rest as it clearly reflects
the reality of what these Heroes families are experiencing every
day. I reluctantly invited a Hero child to speak from my stage one
night from the confines of his wheel chair. I say reluctantly only
because I've always tried to let our Hero families remain as invisible
as they choose to be. Well, this particular boy was bound and determined
to perform just like the other children on stage that night. During
the shore interview process that I go through with every child who
performs, I asked all of the normal questions that I usually ask.
This young man knew that I had left out one of my routine questions
so he eagerly volunteered to tell me what he wanted to be when he
grew up. Knowing that he was so sick, I held my breath as he told
the audience that his Mom told him he was going to have the best
job in the world. His eyes twinkled as he told me with pure joy
that he was going to get to be an angel.
I am reminded that we are in
the business of helping children gracefully become angels, while
unselfish acts of love and kindness help normal every day people
become Heroes. I am so grateful for bein in the presence of both.
Gregg M. Russell
President & Founder of Hilton Head Heroes
|What It Means to be a Hilton
By Alexander L.
Hi, I am a seventeen-year old normal
teenager who likes to eat, sleep in, and hang out with my friends.
However, there is one thing about me that makes me a little different
than most of my friends. I have cystic fibrosis. I was diagnosed
with C.F. when I was six months old, and thanks to many breakthroughs
in medicine for cystic fibrosis, I get to live a pretty normal life.
But because living a normal life requires me to take a lot of medicine
and go into to the hospital for routine "tune-ups" and
surgery, my mom and I don't have a lot of extra money. Often we
could not afford to take vacations. That is why, when I was twelve
years old and my doctor informed me that I had been chosen to participate
in Hilton Head Heroes, I was so excited. I couldn't wait to go home
and tell all my friends I was getting to go to Hilton Head Island
in the summer.
It seemed like I had to wait forever, but the time finally arrived
- we were on our way to Hilton Head. We had talked to our host family,
the Arsenaults, over the phone a lot but it was great to finally
get to meet them in person. We knew that anyone who would open their
house to strangers to do something really special for a me had to
be great people - we just never could have imagined how great. As
soon as we met Mr. Bob and Mrs. Rosemary, we immediately felt welcome.
It was obvious that they were genuinely nice people. And their home
was awesome!! It was not only beautiful, but it had a pool and was
right on the beach. I just couldn't believe I was getting to do
this. It was almost like a dream. On the first night at the Arsenault's,
they cooked spaghetti, which happens to be one of my favorite foods.
Then we talked a lot and got to know each other. It was really fun
talking to them because they are so nice and so interesting. Then
we went down to our room for the night. There I discovered a ton
of goodies that many local stores on the Island had donated to Hilton
Head Heroes. There was even a gift certificate to the Chocolate
Canopy. I got these really neat "Bubble Gum Buddies" there.
It was just another thing that showed us how involved the whole
Island was, and how dedicated they were to making our stay special.
Then when I woke up the next day, I immediately ran to one of my
favorite places - the beach! That night my mom and I ate at The
Old Oyster Factory with another gift card the Arsenualts were kind
enough to give us. That was a real treat, too.
I knew it was very special and unusual
for people to invite strangers to stay in their home, but not only
did Mr. Bob and Mrs. Rosemary open their home to us, they also opened
their lives to us. They went way beyond what we ever expected or
hoped for. They became like family to us. Mr. Bob always knows how
to have fun. The next day he arranged for my mom and I to go on
a sail boat with Mr. Michael. That was unbelievable. It was the
first time that I had ever been on a sailboat. Mr. Michael was a
lot of fun, and had a lot of funny stories to tell. He even served
us lunch on his boat. It was really neat. That night we had the
opportunity to enjoy the company of our host family for dinner.
Boy can Mr. Bob cook!
I couldn't wait until the next day when
Mr. Bob had arranged a trip on a jet ski for me and a parasailing
adventure. I had never been parasailing, either. I had so much fun
and I will never forget how neat it was - or anything else on my
trip for that matter. The Hilton Head Heroes and the Arsenaults
really made this trip so special. And they made me feel very special.
Mr. Bob and Mrs. Rosemary really made us a part of their lives.
I even got to play racquet ball with Mr. Bob and his friends!
Mr. Bob and Mrs. Rosemary were kind enough
to invite my mom and Rocky (my pet tortoise) and me back several
times. Not only was it great to get to go to Hilton Head and enjoy
the beach in the summer, but it was always really nice to see Mr.
Bob and Mrs. Rosemary and Phoebe. I got to spend a lot of time with
their granddaughter, Savannah, too. We always have a lot of fun
at the beach and in the pool. On one of our visits, we all got to
go out on another sailboat with Captain Jack and Mrs. Judy. They
are really nice people. I even got to help steer their boat and
learn a lot about sailing.
Hilton Head Island is truly a paradise; not only because of its
beautiful beaches and great climate, but mostly because of the amazing
people that live there. I could never thank everyone enough that
makes Hilton head Heroes such a success. I cannot express how much
it means to me that Mr. Bob and Mrs. Rosemary and Hilton Head Heroes
care so much about me. They gave me some very special memories that
I will always have. My trip to Hilton Head as a Hilton Head hero
was one of the greatest gifts that I have ever received. I will
never forget all of the awesome memories of that trip. But even
more importantly, I will never forget the Arsenaults and what a
great family they are. They truly made a lasting impression in my
life. They really did make me feel like a hero when I went to Hilton
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, Joshua Acree
(Joshua Acree Hero child)
|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.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
Child life Specialist
Backus Children' Hospital in 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 bepampered
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
Clincial Associate Professor of Pediatrics
The USC School of Medicine
Dear Hilton Head Heroes:
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 & John Geisler
Dear Lindy and Gregg,
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.
Barett Dimarco (age 9)
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
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
Dana Kaminer, LMSW
|My daughter Kayla's favorite
stop on the PGA TOUR is without a doubt Hilton Head Island. If you've
ever been there, you know this is a gorgeous piece of America wrapped
up into one small piece of land in the low country. Kayla isn't all
that impressed with the scenery, she likes it because she gets to
see Gregg Russell every night in Harbour Town. He's been playing there
each night for a long time (32 years!).
A few years ago, when Caddy For A Cure
was young, we happened to be in Hilton Head sharing yet another
night listening to Gregg's rendition of "There's a Booger in
your Sugar, no it's Not," when, Gregg proceeded to digress
and talk about a project he started called "Hilton Head Heroes."
It is a home in Sea Pines designed to house a family with a seriously
ill child, unable financially to come, all expenses paid, for a
week. In most cases, these children are terminal. Needless to say,
I was touched deeply.
Since 25% of each experience goes to
the PGA TOUR Host Site Charity of Choice, we made a "note to
self" to inquire if we could earmark our money gift that week
to Hilton Head Heroes.
The next morning on the putting green
I noticed Tournament Director Steve Wilmot. We had mailed, spoken,
but had never met each other and I wanted to thank him for his and
his staff's generous hospitality. Then, I asked him about our gift
and the earmark to which Steve quickly asked me "What do you
know about this charity?" I mentioned Gregg the night before
and other than that, not too much.
He told me about the battle to get that
house completed. It was an "adult only" community and
the residents had fiercely battled the children and the transient
nature of what Hilton Head Heroes is. Obviously, Heroes won and
they have been operating for over 10 years now. Steve then told
me with teary eyes, the "rest of the story."
This home is very close to HIS home in
Sea Pines. He has been watching now each and every week a new family
come in with a chemo ridden patient. Another family to watch almost
certain to lose their precious child, another last attempt at happiness
on this earth. Steve was painfully aware of the impact Hilton Head
Heroes had on this community, and life.
My fate was sealed. I realized that Caddy
For A Cure exists for a cause far greater than even the patients
of Fanconi. There was indeed a true reason that we continue on with
our quest to help others using this most unique method of caddying
for one of the world's best players.
I encourage you to come to Hilton Head
Island on April 15th and listen to Gregg Russell. Meet Steve Wilmot
and see what a terrific tournament they put on. Honor your American
Wounded Warriors, and help so many. I guarantee you it will be a
time you will never, ever forget.
Caddy for a Cure Founder
|2008 Outstanding Organization
of the Year Award
Please complete (print or type) the nomination form and return it
to the Hilton Head Island Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. The
information included on this form will be considered confidential.
Nominee HILTON HEAD HEROES
Nominator RABBI DR ARTHUR SEGAL
How did you learn about this award?__1) Ellen and I have been blessed
to be in attendance to many of the Chamber's yearly dinners and seen
such wonderful non-profits receive this award. 2) I was given this
form today by Hilton Head Heroes and asked if I would nominate them,
and it would be my sincere pleasure to do so.
Hilton Head Heroes is not one of our Island's sexy, glamorous non-profits.
Hilton Head Heroes is celebrating its tenth birthday and there will
not be a gala black tie ball. You will not see their board members
holding meetings in the private rooms of our Island's well known restaurants
and expensing the lunch or dinner from donations received. You will
not see Hilton Head Heroes having an awards dinner and showering various
volunteers with titles and plaques and attaboys.
No, Hilton Head Heroes is an organization made up of volunteers and
board members who without ego, with nothing but altruism, provide
week long vacations on Hilton Head Island for children suffering from
life threatening illnesses, along with their families. During that
week the families are housed in a private detached home in Sea Pines
resort. This beautiful home was purchased with donations and with
aid from a marvelous real estate agent.
During this week, host families, like Ellen and I, meet and greet
the family at the Chamber's Welcome Center, and escort them to their
home for the week. Clean linens and a=2 0custodial service have already
been provided. The home is spotless. And a family has just moved out
only hours before.
We sit down with the family and tell them about our paradise we call
Hilton Head Island. We have a coupon book in which local restaurants
and businesses have provided free meals, movies, bike rentals, sail
boat rides, miniature golf, dolphin tours, and the list seems endless.
These are families who have a child wit h a terrible illness, usually
fatal, that has bankrupted them, used up their insurance, moved them
from their house into a relative's home, or maybe a trailer park.
And they know that child will die, and yet they haven't given up hope.
They haven't stopped trying for a cure.
And this week, on an Island we can take for granted, provides for
them, the first bit of respite they have had, sometimes in two or
three years. For many families, it will be the last time they will
They are amazed at the bounty. Many have all joined hands, with us
included, and prayed, thanking God for the folks at Hilton Head Heroes.
During the week other miracles occur. Hero volunteers stop by with
blueberry scones, and ice cream cakes. The Lowrey's deliver a basket
of toys and goodies made especially for the ill child based on what
he or she said his/her hobbies were. Many of these kids have not had
a birthday or Christmas gift in years. We bring gifts for the siblings.
Other Hero volunteers, knowing there is always a famil y in the house,
just drop by to say hello.
The neighbors in Sea Pines do the same.
For Ellen and I who have served this community on boards and with
checks, it is the best service we have done. It is one on one. It
is a good deed that cannot be repaid. And the hugs that we get when
we come on the last day, and escort the family out of town, cannot
And this is what Hilton Head Heroes does week in and week o ut.
But there is more.
The board has a full time job screening applicants, talking with doctors,
nurses, social workers, through out the South. Other committees gather
coupons from the afore mentioned businesses. We give the family disposable
cameras so they can document their vis it and Heroes sends them copies
and copies get posted on the web site.
There is a Talmudic saying that ''more than the calf wishes to suckle,
the cow wishes to give milk.'' I can tell you, that Hilton Head Heroes
not only helps 100s of kids and their families a year, but helps increase
the spirituality of every volunteer that works with them.
I will never let any one say ''thank you'' to us. We always say thank
you to them for the opportunity to serve. And Ellen and I do nothing
compared to what others do.
But it is time, after ten years, for the community and its Chamber
of Commerce, to say thank you and give kudos to Hilton Head Heroes.
They represent the best of what Hilton Head has to offer. Because
of this, and so much more, I, with joy and love in my heart, humbly,
nominate for your consideration, Hilton Head Heroes as the Outstanding
Organization of the Year for 2008.
Most Sincerely and Many Blessings,
Rabbi Dr. Arthur Segal
8 Country Club Ct
Hilton Head Island, SC 29926
843 689 9393