Live Like Cameron: The Story of a Little Boy Who Inspired an Organization

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Last week, I was able to sit down and get to know Melisa Fulling. She is the founder of Live LIke Cameron, which is an organization who helps and supports children with cancer and their families. Melisa’s dedication to this foundation is amazing, and she helps so many people in our community. When I heard her story, and how the organization was born, I knew it was something the entire community needed to hear about.   This is a sad, heart wrenching story, that leads to amazing inspiration. Melisa took something that would break most people, and turned it into something great; an organization that helps other families through what many would deem the darkest days of their life.  The interview below shows exactly what Live Like Cameron is all about and how they make our community better every day.

1. What made you decide to start Live like Cameron?

Melisa: “The story behind Live Like Cameron started on St. Patrick’s Day in 2010 when my son Cameron was sent for an MRI due to his frequent vomiting. That day forever changed our lives. It was the day we heard the words “your child has cancer.”

 
Cameron was 2 years old at the time of his diagnosis and spent 7 years of his life fighting cancer. Throughout those 7 years he underwent several brain surgeries, had radiation to the brain more times than they allow adults to have, tried several different chemotherapies, and spent most of his life in hospitals, including two out of state hospitals, St. Jude Children’s hospital in Memphis and Children’s Hospital of Georgia in Augusta.
Despite everything Cameron went through he always had a smile on his face even through the pain. I can’t explain how he was always so positive but he loved life and lived his short life to the fullest. He always managed to make everyone around him smile.

Sadly, we lost Cameron on April 6th 2017 just 12 days shy of his 10th birthday. I knew immediately that we needed to do something to keep his beautiful memory alive and to help other families that are faced with childhood cancer. Our charity was named Live Like Cameron to remind people that life is short and to live your life in a positive way just like Cameron did.

Our community is the other inspiration behind our charity. My family and I were so overwhelmed by the amount of love and support that we were given during my son’s battle with cancer. We never felt alone. We had friends, family members and complete strangers offer us donations and support to help us through such a difficult time. We never had to worry about the financial burden that comes along with a cancer diagnosis, but most of all we felt loved, and Cameron had so many people going out of their way to bring him moments of joy.”

2. When did you offically found this organization?

Melisa: “Live Like Cameron was started on October 1st 2017”

3. What are your main events/fundraisers?

Melisa: “Our four biggest annual fundraisers are: The Flagler Warrior 5K Fun Run/Walk, The Live Like Cameron Golf Tournament, The Shave for the Brave (Beard Shaving Event) & The BF Open.”

4. How do you currently help children with cancer?

Melisa: “Our organization offers two programs. The first one is financial support for our Flagler County childhood cancer families and to celebrate their milestones. This was inspired by our community who stepped up and helped my family in our time of need. We were so overwhelmed by the amount of love and support given to us even by complete strangers. As with most families I was forced to leave my job to care for Cameron, the only hospitals that treat children with cancer are in Orlando, Jacksonville, or out of state causing high travel expenses, a lot of the treatments are experimental and aren’t covered by insurance, the list of expenses goes on and on. We were so blessed to have the support of our community because there were no childhood cancer organizations here in Flagler County. We currently have 33 families that we know of in Flagler County that are in different phases of their childhood cancer diagnosis.

Our second program is called our Bags of Hope. This program was inspired by Cameron’s dislike of the hospital rooms. He absolutely hated the uncomfortable and boring hospital sheets and blankets. We always had to bring fun and comfortable bedding with us every time he was hospitalized. It can also get very boring spending a lot of time in the hospital so we always tried to decorate his hospital room to remind him of home and bring toys to keep him occupied. We deliver our Bags of Hope to the pediatric oncology patients to three different hospitals in Orlando and Jacksonville. Our bags are customized to the patient’s needs, likes and hobbies. Each bag contains new sheets and blankets, comfortable pajamas, crafts, toys, room décor, snacks, games, & gift cards. We also deliver holiday themed Bags of Hope for the patients that have to spend the holidays in the hospital. Our main goal for these bags are to bring them a moment of joy and to bring a smile on their face.”

5. What are your 5 year goals for this organization?

Melisa: “My five year goal for Live Like Cameron would be to be able to expand our financial support beyond Flagler County and to add more pediatric hospitals to our Bags of Hope program.”

6. How can the community come together to support this organization and these families?

Melisa: “The best way the community can come together to support our families is by supporting our fundraisers and helping us bring awareness by spreading the word and/or sharing our website and social media posts.”

7. How do you hope your organization effects Flagler County?

Melisa: “I hope that Live Like Cameron has made a positive impact on our Flagler County Childhood Cancer families by helping to ease the financial burden that comes with a childhood cancer diagnosis. We hope that we are able to relieve some of that stress so that they can focus on their child/teen getting healthy.”

8. What do you hope Live like Cameron inspires people to do?

Melisa: “We hope that Live Like Cameron inspires people in the same way that Cameron did which is to show compassion and love to others going through difficult times. We completely understand that not everyone can support others financially, but showing these families that you care helps lift their spirits in ways that can’t be put into words. ”

9. What is the number one thing you want to tell the community about this organization and the people it serves?

Melisa: “Live Like Cameron is 100% volunteer, no one takes a paycheck. Our organization is run by friends and family members who loved Cameron and have a passion for helping our local children and teens who are battling cancer.”

If this organization is something close to your heart, and you feel the need to become involved, you can reach out to Melisa at: livelikecameron@gmail.com

Or you can visit: https://livelikecameron.org/ for more information on how you can help.

By Krys DeWind

Krys DeWind has been a Flagler County resident since 2016. She is active in her community and is always looking for ways to better it. She has a community first attitude which is one of the central founding ideals of the Flagler County Buzz.

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