Nine-year-old Sam Bish was in love with Star Wars and superheroes. And he was in love with life. When he was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2009, it didn’t stop any of that. But like most families dealing with a pediatric cancer diagnosis, the Bish family struggled to meet the financial demands that come with a child that is in-and-out of the hospital for treatment.
“Many times one or both parents need to stop working,” Cindy Bish explained to me when we talked earlier this week.
The Bish’s needed help so they could support their family; Sam and their two daughters. So in 2010, in the middle of Sam’s fight, their church decided to put on what can only be best described as a festival. The name of it: Bish Bash. The goal at that moment was to raise money for the Bish family– who was no longer living under a two-person family income and facing mounting medical bills.
“It makes it really hard to get the necessities,” Cindy further explains.
Friends, family, and community members were invited to take part and enjoy a day where Sam could just be a kid. He didn’t have to worry about surgeries. He was surrounded by music, bounce houses, characters and even some friends from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. And like the soldier he was, he completely ignored the fact that his leg had been amputated when he got inside one of the bounce houses that day and bounced with one leg.
“I saw the smile on his face,” Cindy remembers back to that moment.
“Even for just a day, he was able to forget he had cancer.”
Cindy Bish recalls that moment, that day, with so much love and happiness in her voice as we talk. It holds a lot of meaning for her and is a constant reminder of how Sam embraced life.
Sam passed away within that year– but his memory, and that smile, live on to this day.
Bish Bash is a part of that legacy. It’s happening this weekend. The main goal for the last few years: that any kid dealing with cancer can just go to the party and be a kid! Pediatric cancer patients and their families get in for free and they see other kids and families they’ve become close to during their time in treatment.
“The event is a blessing for these kids. They make good friends during their time in the hospital.”
The rest of the community is invited to take part in what the Bish family describes as a joyful, fun-filled day for a small cost. There are the bounce houses that Sam loved. Superheroes and Star Wars characters walking around and greeting children. Snacks, face painting, and so much more. And what your money will do, for you to spend a fun day with your family and others, is moving.
The funds raised this weekend help pay for gas cards, grocery expenses, care packages, car payments, and more. The Sam Bish Foundation gets the money to these families that need the support. In the last couple of years, 500 people have attended the event and they’re hoping for even larger turnout on Saturday to help even more families fighting a cancer diagnosis.
As I mentioned, Sam lives on through Bish Bash and through the work the Bish family is doing for others traveling down the same road they did, only a few short years ago. They have faith that their efforts will greatly help others– and that your attendance this weekend will make an impact.
“We want to provide hope. It’s not a journey you want to walk with your child. But if you have to walk it, Columbus is an outstanding place to live with so many resources.”
To learn more about Bish Bash, please visit the official Facebook Page.
The Bish family hopes to see you there!