Stillbrave Foundation Helping Families with Kids Diagnosed with Cancer

Stillbrave+Foundation+Helping+Families+with+Kids+Diagnosed+with+Cancer

Written by Online Editor in Chief Diana Tinta and Purcellville Gazette Liason Caitleen Copeland, Woodgrove Outlander

The Stillbrave Foundation is an organization dedicated to giving non medical support to families with children who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The founder of the organization is Tom Mitchell, more commonly know as “Tattoo Tom,” who lost his daughter Shayla to childhood cancer several years ago. Since then he has dedicated his life to helping families who are in similar situations, as his daughter made him promise to do so before she died.

“I didn’t really have much choice in the matter. My daughter kind of made me,” said Mitchell about why he started the organization.

The Stillbrave Foundation team took on a challenging fundraiser in September by running a 200 mile race in Lake Tahoe, raising $236,280. “Tattoo Tom” was amazed that he was able to cross the finish line and believes it was the hardest thing that he has ever done, but was pushed to keep on going with his team’s support.

Mitchell said, “At a couple points I was so low that I wanted to quit, and my team personally talked me out of quitting.”

Mitchell dedicated each mile to a child currently battling cancer. Focusing on their pictures gave him the strength to get through the “brutal” 200 mile race.

Mitchell describes the race as a “brutal continuous 200 mile footrace, 100 hours, over very aggressive terrain with few stops, only a few short sleep breaks and no MERCY!…just like Childhood Cancer!”

The race was a successful fundraiser and Mitchell was impressed by the foundation’s accomplishments.

Mitchell said, “No one was more surprised than me. We killed it.”

Mitchell had an “incredible” performance and finished 16th out of 59 runners in the last 15 mile section, giving honor of his performance to the kids he sponsored.

“I dug deep and got some magical assistance from the kids with cancer,” said Mitchell.

With fundraising, like the 200 mile race, Mitchell and other members of his organization “fight the lesser battles” by helping families pay rent, groceries, gas, and many other things. They also set up activities for the siblings of the patients because the parents tend to be very busy caring for their ill child.

“We do rollerblading, movies nights, baseball games, all kinds of things just to be there for the family,” said Mitchell.

“Tattoo Tom” also goes to visit children with cancer at least three to four times a week. He primarily visits Fairfax Hospital, but he also goes to places ranging from Philadelphia to New York. He tries to brighten up the child’s day by giving them gift cards to their favorite stores or just making them smile.

“I’ll go anywhere, within reason, if there’s a kid that needs my help,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell made a trip to the University of Virginia’s hospital on September 24th to visit a girl on her 16th birthday, surprising her with 10 $50 gift cards to her favorite stores.

Mitchell said, “Her parents don’t have a lot of money and they can’t really do anything special, so I’m gonna come down and surprise her with a big shopping spree when she gets out of the hospital.”

Above all, the Stillbrave Foundation helps to provide emotional support for the kids and the families. As Mitchell put it, “we’re in the trenches; we’re with them as they’re going through what they’re going through.”