Throughout their daughter, Sarah’s, cancer treatments, the couple said they hated having to leave the children’s oncology unit to grab a snack or bite to eat when Sarah was sick.
Sarah lost her valiant battle with cancer earlier this year, but her parents have reached out to other families in the same situation with a new initiative called Sarah’s snacks.
Sarah’s snacks aims to provide families with children who have cancer and visit the hospital regularly with free nourishing snacks.
“What we are doing with Sarah’s Snacks is filling a need at the clinic,” said Bob Williams. “They (families) don’t know what is going on at first and then all of a sudden in the middle of the day, someone tells them their child has cancer. Then they can’t go anywhere for a while.”
Snacks generally are pretzels, frozen food items and other goodies.
Bob said the snack not only provides family members with energy but allows them to stay longer with a sick child.
“I don’t know how most parents are, but we wanted to stay with Sarah and not leave,” Bob said. “It’s just some-thing Susan and I thought of just having been what we have been through. There were snacks up there for a period of time, but they soon went away.”
How Sarah’s Snacks help
Nurse Ashley Williams, child life specialist at T.C. Thompson, said Sarah’s snacks have had a positive impact in the children’s oncology unit.
“Some of our kids, I don’t know if they have food at home, and they always know there will be food here for them,” Williams said. “If they get here at 8 a.m. some are here close to dinner and they always bring up a variety of things for kids to have.”
Williams said the availability of the snacks is great because many children and parents are advised to stay in the oncology unit.
“Once they are up here they can’t leave. Some are getting chemo and blood transfusions, but since they are here under our care they need to stay up here for our treatment,” Williams said. “They have to wear masks and can’t be around a lot of germs.”
Help from the Optimists
Recently, Sarah’s Snacks received a $1,200 donation from the Gordon Optimist Club.
“The Williams’s family are truly dedicated to helping other families of children with cancer and our club is honored to be able to help sponsor Sarah’s Snacks in memory of Sarah,” said Optimist president Raina Sanford.
“Sarah Williams has been an inspiration to all of us and we have been truly blessed to have known her,” she added.
Bob and Susan launched Sarah’s snacks after 11-year-old Sarah passed away at their home this summer.
Sarah was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma, a form of cancer, in 2005, and except for a brief remission in 2006, she had been on continuous treatment.
This year will be the first year of Sarah’s Snacks. Bob said the couple purchases hundreds of dollars worth of snacks at a time and then they drop them off in Chattanooga every two weeks.
How can you help?
The Williams said they have been advised to stay local in their efforts to help provide snacks to the families and children at T.C. Thompson.
The couple said they are thankful the gracious support of Calhoun and Gordon County community members, and they have relied on others in the community to help.
“What we tell people that are interested in helping is that if you were stuck in a place and couldn’t go out to get something to eat what would your child want to eat,” Bob said.
W.L. Swain and Belwood Elementary School, which are the schools Sarah attended, are snack-collecting locations.
Email Bob Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you would like to help or make a donation.