Cancer claims life of 'Team Summer' founder - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

FOX Medical Team

Cancer claims life of 'Team Summer' founder

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An Atlanta teenager who turned her cancer diagnosis into a way to help other kids has died. Summer Dale, 17, passed away on Sunday after a year-long battle with a rare form of bone cancer.
   
Summer never stopped being grateful that the ugliest diagnosis had opened her eyes to the most beautiful thing.
 
"I just kind of realized how tough it is, like my heart breaks every time I see a kid who is going through the same thing, like younger than me, or older than me," said Summer.

After the Riverwood High School junior was diagnosed with bone cancer last October, she and her twin brother Jordan shaved their heads and braced for a rough year.

A family friend gave the Dales bracelets they could sell to raise donations -- half the money would go to Summer's medical bills, the other half to any charity she chose. That gave Summer an idea.

"That it would be so amazing to be able to like help other kids with cancer, and help them get through it," she said.

Team Summer was born.

"I want to help the kid in the bed. Like what will help them get through chemo and get through cancer easier," said Summer.

Team Summer raised more than $50,000 over the last year to help kids, such as 2-year-old Josiah Darde, whom she bought a LeapPad to distract him through chemotherapy.

She also gave Josiah's family bracelets that they could sell to raise money for his bills and help the next kid in line,

"And that's what the whole bracelet project has done for her -- it's given her a reason to wake up in the morning," said Lynne Dale, Summer's mother.

After Brenda Richter Kessing, a family friend and professional photographer, helped Summer realize that she could lose her hair and still be beautiful, Summer gave 20-year-old Lacey Johnson -- a dancer who'd lost her hair and part of her leg to bone cancer -- the same gift, helping her rediscover something she thought she'd lost.

"I am fascinated with [the pictures], I can't stop looking at them. They make me happy.  Because I do look pretty in them," said Johnson.

As Summer Dale pushed through treatment, her former babysitter Donna Morgan wanted to give her a dream come true.

With help from FOX, Delta and a lot of other people, Morgan sent Summer and her mom to see "American Idol," Summer's favorite TV show, where she met kindred spirit Steven Tyler.

"It was just such a great trip, there was not one bad part of it.  I'm so blessed to have that," Summer said.

And even as the cancer gained ground, Summer kept on giving, helping at least 20 kids.

She gave Antonio, a laptop, to get him through his treatment.

"He's not alone. And really the gift is like the beginning," Summer said.

In the end, the pain was too much.

Summer Dale's family says she asked them to promise "to let everyone know - especially my friends – that I am not scared of this.  I am not afraid."

Sunday evening, Summer Dale died at home, surrounded by her family. She was grateful to the end, her family says, to be blessed by every kid she helped.

"It's just amazing. There's no other feeling to top it. It's just what I was meant to do," Summer said.

Summer's family wants to carry on her mission. They are asking people to donate to the charity. To find out more about the kids touched by Team Summer, and to make a donation, visit http://teamsummer.org.

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