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Voices from The Scooper Bowl: Fighting cancer by eating ice cream

June 13, 2013

Ice cream. Kids love it. Adults love it. And it brings FedEx team members together to help raise money for The Jimmy Fund and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

FedEx has presented The Jimmy Fund “Scooper Bowl” for the past six years, with hundreds of team members volunteering to scoop ice cream to a hungry crowd of children and adults. The three-day, all-you-can-eat ice cream fundraiser holds a special place in many of our volunteers’ hearts. Read why these people, all with a special connection to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, choose to volunteer their time and effort at this special event.  

Garry Sampson, husband of a Dana-Farber Cancer Institute patient (pictured right, holding ribbon)

2013 Scooper Bowl ribbon cutting 

My name is Garry Sampson and I have been a part of the FedEx family for the past 25 years.  On Dec. 27, 2007, my life was forever changed.  On that day, I found out that my wife, Barbara, had acute lymphocytic leukemia.  My wife fought gallantly for two years and sadly she lost the battle on Feb. 16, 2009. 

We spent many days in and out of the Brigham and Women’s Dana-Farber Cancer center.  During our stay there, the Jimmy Fund touched our lives.  I saw firsthand how they work with both doctors and patients to make a better life and understanding of how cancer affects all of us.  After her death, I said that I needed to help out in some way. 

When the Jimmy Fund Scooper Bowl came up in June of 2009, my Sr. Manager asked me if I wanted to help out and I jumped at the opportunity.  I asked if my son Garry could also be a part of it and they said yes.  For the past five years, he and I have been a part of the FedEx Scooper Bowl and look forward to the event yearly.  This year, my son Garry and I had a chance to be part of the opening ceremonies and got to hold the ribbon.  This meant a lot to both of us.  I am proud that FedEx is a sponsor of the Scooper Bowl and gives back to the community.   

Mark Ridge, father of a Dana-Farber Cancer Institute patient (pictured left)

Scooper Bowl - ice cream

After almost 27 years with FedEx Express in Boston, I have seen FedEx lend its support to many a cause over the years. From providing financial support, aircraft, trucks, generators, volunteers, or the like, the causes are always worthwhile ones. I recently had the privilege to work as a first time volunteer at the FedEx Scooper Bowl in support of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and would like to share my story with you.

Our 31 year old daughter, Carolyn, was diagnosed June 1, 2012 with stage 3 ovarian cancer after returning from Belmont University in Nashville, where she is attending nursing school. After extensive surgeries last summer, and numerous complications, she began her chemotherapy treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The moment you walk in the door to this pristine facility, you are treated like family. From the volunteers, parking attendants, to the nurses and doctors, everyone’s goal each time you come in is to make you feel at home and to make you better. The care and attention that my daughter has received over the past year has been second to none. We chose Dana-Farber for treatment strictly based on its reputation, and have never regretted our decision. Carolyn’s last treatment, December 6, 2012, culminated with a visit from the manager of the Boston Red Sox and two players who were in visiting patients that day. She just passed the one-year mark and is continuing to make good progress in her fight against ovarian cancer.

A diagnosis of cancer is devastating to one’s family. It is a hand that you are dealt and regardless of your status in life, you cannot buy your way out of. You rely on your friends, family, and the professionals like those at Dana-Farber to guide you along. I know that without my friends, and my FedEx co-workers to help and support me during this difficult time, the road would have been much more difficult to navigate.

Jessica Downing, former Dana-Farber Cancer Institute patient (pictured right)

Scooper Bowl volunteers

Volunteering has always been important to me, because I, like so many other kids my age, was told that it was important to volunteer. We knew that giving up our time for a “good cause” helped people. So every year I got out there with hundreds of others in my town and I would participate in The Relay for Life event at my high school. I knew the money raised would go toward a good cause. What I didn’t know though, was what that truly meant. I never imagined at the time that I would someday be a beneficiary of the charitable efforts and donations of so many. Who would ever imagine that at 15? But when I was diagnosed with T-cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma just before Christmas of my sophomore year in high school, I soon learned just how much my past efforts and those of so many truly meant. 

I spent over two years in treatment at Dana-Farber. Despite my struggles as a cancer patient, I graduated from high school on time, and just completed my freshman year at UNH, none of which would have been possible without the efforts of volunteers.  Yes, I had great doctors who made me well.  But as a patient at DFCI, I was able to maintain some sense of normalcy by being a part of organized events with other kids going through treatment for cancer such as family picnics, shopping sprees, trips to Red Sox Spring Training in Fort Myers, and Red Sox games in Baltimore. All of this was made possible by the Jimmy Fund. 

It is just mere coincidence that FedEx sponsors the Scooper Bowl every year.   I remember attending the Scooper Bowl many times as a kid with my family.   My father, Ed Downing, is a long time employee of FedEx.  This year I was honored to be able to be a volunteer at the Scooper Bowl. Giving back means so much more to me now.  Whether you came out to support the Scooper Bowl this year and had a good time, or whether you volunteered in some capacity, you have put a smile on the faces of so many. 



    Bob McKinley says:

    Gary, Mark and Jessica thank you for sharing your personal experiences. This dreaded disease touches all of us in one way or another. Your spirit, determination and passion for this cause really stands out. I have been to the Jimmy Fund Clinic as part of the FedEx team to bring some of the fun of the Scooper bowl to the kids and staff. Seeing the spirit and incredible attitudes at the DFCI Jimmy Fund clinic is life changing. I am honored to participate and help support this organization as part of the FedEx family with another great year, in fact 2013 was a record breaking year for the Scooper Bowl!

    Robin says:

    Great article and it really lifts my spirits to hear about good things we do in the community and brings tears to my eys on the reason it effects our FedEx Family members personally. Bravo Zulu to all the FedEx and not FedEx employee who participate in this annual event.

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