It has been our greatest honor to strengthen families living through childhood cancer for two decades. Families arrive at the beach and receive the week of a lifetime—being served by caring volunteers, and spending time as a family, as a couple, and with others walking a similar path. But, of course, Lighthouse is only a respite. Families still have to return home to their reality of treatments, doctor visits, hospital stays... And sometimes, that miracle of earthly healing that everyone prays for, doesn’t happen. Every year, unfortunately, several families who have attended a Lighthouse weeklong retreat have to say goodbye to their precious child.
Obviously, the need for hope and healing doesn’t end there... if anything, families who have endured the unthinkable need more support and more space to rest and restore, and more love and encouragement to find hope and joy.
It has been our dream to extend the Lighthouse experience to these families once again, and in 2019, we began doing just that. And now in 2021, we are hosting our second annual Sunrise Retreat—a bereavement experience offering rest, restoration, hope, and joy for families who have lost a child to cancer in the last one to three years.
A Sunrise Retreat is similar to a seaside Lighthouse Family Retreat experience. Parents will spend time together in the mornings in Common Ground while their children have fun playing with new friends and volunteers at Flip Flop. Parents will get a night out together, and volunteers will take care of all of their laundry and light cleaning. But there will be some differences too. The retreat will take place on Bald Head Island, which is located off the coast of North Carolina and only accessible by ferry. There will be more family time during the retreat to allow families a chance to process and just have fun together, and throughout the week, there will be special ways each family can honor their child who passed.
There is a reason we host our Sunrise Retreat in September—Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Because yes, we all hope and pray and give to find a cure. But ultimately, Lighthouse can’t create a cure. What we can provide is an opportunity to encounter hope—hope beyond a cure. Hope for the healing and true restoration that only comes from God. So, we wear our gold, and we share our knowledge with others, and we donate, and we pray for a cure. But we also sit with those who have lost, and together, we look toward the Hope.
Our fundraising goal for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is $30,000, because that’s what it takes to put on a Sunrise Retreat. From meals and gifts to Parent’s Night Out, sibling activities and nights of remembrance, every single dollar we receive in September is going to be invested into providing a restorative experience for families who have lost their child to cancer. When it comes to our growing Sunrise Retreat program, more funding means more families served. Whether you can give $1, $100 or $1,000, please join us in honoring the memories of the children we’ve lost by providing support for the families who will never forget them. Visit this page to learn more or donate.
For the next few weeks on the blog, we will be sharing stories written by some of the families who will be attending our Sunrise Retreat this month. We hope you will join us in praying for these families who have endured unimaginable loss, that God will use the week away with their family and Lighthouse volunteers to bring healing and hope.