Imagine 500 kids with cancer wearing superhero capes as they explore California’s Great America amusement park in Santa Clara. Well, that’s exactly what will happen this Mother’s Day at the 30th annual Courageous Kids Day.

More than 500 families come each year for a “day away from cancer” complete with free admission, complimentary lunch and fun activities for the brave children and families.

Courageous Kids was founded by American Cancer Society board member, Gay Crawford. A two-time cancer survivor, she started the event after her colleague’s 2-year-son was diagnosed with leukemia. She realized that there were no services for children with cancer in the Silicon Valley region so she rallied everyone she knew to bring this event to life.

“I’m a cancer survivor so I understand the impact this can have on a person’s life,” said Crawford. “I’m also a mother, so I can only imagine the heartache that comes when a child is diagnosed.”

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As Courageous Kids Day is held on Mother’s Day, every mom, grandma, and female caregiver is welcomed with a beautiful hand-made flower corsage. This is just one of the special touches at this heartwarming and welcoming event.

Families enjoy time together at the theme park but also have a special area, the Picnic Grove, devoted just to these Courageous Kids. There have been celebrity visits, including football legend Ronnie Lott, San Jose Earthquake players, and local pageant winners who all take photos and sign autographs.

Every family also gets a free portrait from a volunteer professional photographer, a special treat for these families who don’t have time to make family photos a priority.

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“I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2007 and one of my favorite Mother’s Day memories is Courageous Kids Day,” said Alyssa McCoy of Campbell. “It was incredible to find people of all ages and backgrounds who shared my story. It was amazing to watch my mom bond with other mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmas and other survivors. I’ll forever be grateful.”

And she’s not the only one.

More than 20 years ago, Bob and Joyce Steinfeld attended Courageous Kids Day with their 1-year-old son, Sam, who was battling cancer, and his sister, Lindsay, who was 5 years old.

Sam lost his battle to cancer just two years later, but the Steinfeld family continues to support the event to this day—Bob has played a pivotal role every year since then (even when juggling a demanding career at Apple), and has led it for the last three years.

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“The event could never happen without Bob’s commitment and organizational skills,” said Crawford. “The people at Great America know if Bob is involved, every aspect of the day will go smoothly.”

And this year will be no exception as hundreds of families eagerly anticipate the hula hoop games, water balloon tosses, and unlimited laughter, this Mother’s Day (May 12) at California’s Great America.

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