Nine-year-old Ava Santhuff often says: “Sisters should get to keep their brothers.” Just three years ago, she lost her brother to rhabdomyosarcoma, a highly malignant form of childhood cancer. Her statement has become her rallying cry for the foundation created in honor of her brother.
Shortly after Sam Santhuff passed away in 2014, the Super Sam Foundation – led by Sam and Ava’s parents Cassie and Matt – was created to help combat childhood cancer. Super Sam focuses primarily on raising awareness, funding research, and supporting families affected by all types of pediatric cancer. They raise money for grants, provide support for families currently dealing with pediatric cancer, and comfort packs filled with blankets, stuffed animals, gift cards, and more to children undergoing treatment.
Our team at Caledon Virtual first got to know Super Sam last year, when we helped them redesign their website. So, when they applied for our Brand’em Acts of Kindness Day, a day devoted to giving pro bono marketing services away to one local nonprofit, we were thrilled to see them again during pitches. We had several non-profits come into our office and pitch why they needed marketing services, including Cassie and the Super Sam team. During her pitch, Cassie had several of our team members in tears with her heart-wrenching story of losing her son to a terrible disease.
After the pitches, voting was open to the public through a poll on our website, where Super Sam was chosen as the winner. Cassie’s ideas – two videos – were something different from what most us do daily. We knew it would be a bit challenging – especially the logistics of getting everything done in a single day – but the Super Sam story is so compelling that everyone in the office could hardly wait for Brand’em Acts of Kindness to get here.
Eventually it did, on Friday August 4th. Cassie and Ava brought along Martha, Sam and Ava’s grandmother, and Erin, Sam and Ava’s former teacher, for a full day of meetings and video shoots. We broke off into two teams – one for each video – and quickly got to work.
While we don’t want to spoil too much about either of the videos – though we look forward to sharing them with everyone at some point – it’s difficult to overstate what an incredible day we had. Cassie and Ava were amazing. They were both so articulate, funny, and honest that it’s easy to understand how they’ve made such a profound impact in the pediatric cancer community in such a short time.
Although Sam’s life was far too short, his memory lives on thanks to his mother, his sister, and so many other folks involved in the Super Sam Foundation. The fact that Caledon Virtual could play a small role – and we do mean small – in helping this amazing cause is gratifying to the point of speechlessness. It’s difficult to put into words what it felt like to watch Cassie talk about Sam’s personality, or listen to Ava talk about her favorite memory of her brother. A blog post certainly doesn’t do it justice.
In the end, there’s not much to say beyond thank you to the Super Sam Foundation. Not for a second did our Brand’em Acts of Kindness Day feel like work, and we appreciate your cooperation and help throughout the entire process. We hope the videos we put together live up to your expectations.
If you would like to learn more about the Super Sam Foundation or make a donation to their cause, please visit their website: www.supersamfoundation.com.