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JBA spreads cheer with PCFC party

Erin Roseberry, Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday party attendee, smiles while sitting on Mr. Santa Claus’ lap on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 9, 2017. Mr. and Mrs. Claus presented children and families with gifts during the 30th annual celebration.

Erin Roseberry, Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday party attendee, smiles while sitting on Mr. Santa Claus’ lap on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 9, 2017. Mr. and Mrs. Claus presented children and families with gifts during the 30th annual celebration.

Cinderella greets Tiffany and Samuel Barnett, Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday party attendees, during the event’s 30th anniversary on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 9, 2017. Volunteers dressed up as popular characters and interacted with visitors. Hangar 3 was turned into a winter wonderland to allow military families whose lives have been affected by cancer to gather together and enjoy the free celebration.

Cinderella greets Tiffany and Samuel Barnett, Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday party attendees, during the event’s 30th anniversary on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 9, 2017. Volunteers dressed up as popular characters and interacted with visitors. Hangar 3 was turned into a winter wonderland to allow military families whose lives have been affected by cancer to gather together and enjoy the free celebration.

30th Annual Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday party attendees dance during the festive celebration in Hangar 3 on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 9, 2017. During performance breaks, guests were able to dance to various songs throughout the event.

30th Annual Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday party attendees dance during the festive celebration in Hangar 3 on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 9, 2017. During performance breaks, guests were able to dance to various songs throughout the event.

Jailynn Mercer, Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday party attendee, looks at her reflection after having her face painted on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 9, 2017. Face painting, a puppet show and dance performances were some of the many activities children were able to enjoy.

Jailynn Mercer, Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday party attendee, looks at her reflection after having her face painted on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 9, 2017. Face painting, a puppet show and dance performances were some of the many activities children were able to enjoy.

Berryville Baptist Rascals perform a puppet show at the Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday party on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 9, 2017. The event also featured dance performances by Agency 9 Performance Dance Company, face painting and various displays from units assigned to JBA.

Berryville Baptist Rascals perform a puppet show at the Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday party on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 9, 2017. The event also featured dance performances by Agency 9 Performance Dance Company, face painting and various displays from units assigned to JBA.

Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus greet Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday party attendees in Hangar 3 on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 9, 2017. The special guests also visited children who were unable to attend the event at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. This year marked the 30th anniversary of the JBA Fisher House event.

Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus greet Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday party attendees in Hangar 3 on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 9, 2017. The special guests also visited children who were unable to attend the event at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. This year marked the 30th anniversary of the JBA Fisher House event.

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --

Hangar 3, a huge, stark structure traditionally intended for military aircraft maintenance, was transformed into a winter wonderland filled with various displays, performances and food for the 30th annual Parents and Children Fighting Cancer Holiday Party on Dec. 9.

 

The event also included a special visit by Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. The Fisher House, an organization that provides a home for family member’s during a loved one’s hospitalization, sponsored the event. More than 200 guests, including 30 patients assigned to the pediatric oncology department at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, attended this year’s party.

 

According to Janet Grampp, JBA Fisher House manager, the event began in 1987 under the leadership of Jeanette Ruffing, then Family Support Center director. Grampp said Ruffing became aware of a few families here who had children that were cancer patients and wanted to do something special for them during the holidays.

 

For some guests, such as Krista Allphin and her daughter Carly, this was their first time attending the event.

 

“Carly was diagnosed about 18 months ago, but has been in remission for about eight months. We’re happy to be here celebrating,” Allphin said. “Last year, she was in the hospital so we weren’t able to come. It’s just so fun to watch my kids run around and be so excited to receive gifts, play and eat good food.”

 

For those who couldn’t make the event, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, along with their elves, also visited children at Walter Reed, spreading the holiday spirit and giving gifts.

 

Grampp said the event brought cheer to guests, and allowed them to briefly forget the traumatic situations their families may be in.

 

“It’s an emotional roller coaster preparing for the event, but seeing the kids’ faces when Santa appears and hearing them scream is a moment that hooks us and keeps us coming back,” she continued. “There is something magical about bringing kids joy who spend most of the year in and out of the hospital. It’s important for all of us to remember the blessings we have in our lives.”

 

Some of the volunteers included children who overcame cancer, along with their families. Marie Sherouse was diagnosed in 1997, and first attended this event then. Twenty years later and now cancer-free, she returned in costume as the Disney princess, Snow White.

 

Although the weather was cold outside, there was no shortage of holiday warmth in Hangar 3.

 

“Even if it’s snowing, it’s worth it,” Allphin said. “It’s amazing to spend time with the people that we love, seeing our nurses and doctors, and the moms that I’ve cried with, who were my strength to get us through the really hard times -- we’re so thankful to be here and for the event.”