Forror Family and Cameron's Smile

Forror Family and Cameron's Smile
This article was published in Dayton Daily News on February 1, 2015

By Susan Gnann

In the 31 years since it began in 1983, A Special Wish Foundation – Dayton Chapter has found that some families who experienced a wish give back to the organization as a way to say thank you and to honor the memory of their child who passed away. The Forror family of Piqua is one of those.

A Special Wish Foundation – Dayton Chapter grants wishes to children and adolescents from birth through 20 years of age in Montgomery, Darke, Mercer, Miami, Greene and Shelby counties who are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Since 1983 the Dayton Chapter has granted more than 1,600 wishes.

In 2006, Cameron Forror, the son of Tonya and Chad, was granted a wish to visit Walt Disney World southwest of Orlando, Fla. “It was one of the most amazing experiences we got to share together,” Tonya said. “Just getting away, Cameron didn’t have to worry about doctor visits or his health issues. We were just able to go there and enjoy and have family time. We made a lot of great memories that are more special to me now than ever.” Cameron had been diagnosed with Esophageal Atresia and DiGeorge Syndrome, and passed away in September 2008 at the age of 17.

The entire family, including Cameron’s brothers, Conner and Corbin, now 18 and 11, made the trip to Disney World for six days and five nights. “They kept us busy,” Tonya recalled about the trip.

Yet, perhaps the most exciting parts of the trip, at least for the boys, Tonya said, were the limousine ride to the airport and flight to Orlando. The Forror brothers had never been on an airplane. And, when the limousine pulled up in front of the Forror home, “Cameron was super excited. It made him feel really special,” Tonya said.

After Cameron passed away, the Forrors wanted to do something to give back to A Special Wish Foundation and to honor his memory. The family decided to establish a 5K run/walk in Cameron’s memory with the proceeds going to A Special Wish Foundation – Dayton Chapter. “It’s something we could do for Cameron and another child fighting a life threatening illness to do something good out of a tragedy,” Tonya explained.

Families like the Forrors who organize fundraising events are an extension of the Special Wish mission to make sure every deserving child gets their wish, said Dave Seyer, executive director of the organization.

“When families organize fundraisers for us they truly are paying it forward. That’s the best testimonial we have – that the wish meant so much to them that they want to ensure other families have the same opportunities,” Dave said. He noted that several wish families host third party fundraising events for A Special Wish during the year.

The Forror’s 5K run/walk is called Cameron’s Smile. The first race was in September 2009, a year after Cameron’s passing, and has been held each year since. The 2015 5K will be Sept. 13 at Edison Community College in Piqua where all of the races have taken place. Registration will start in June with forms placed in local establishments and online at www.speedy-feet.com.

About 200 runners/walkers take part in the event, Tonya said. “I would love to see that get up to 300.” The 2014 race raised more than $7,000 for A Special Wish Foundation.

On Feb. 13, Tonya and Chad are going to give back some more when they tell their family’s story to attendees at A Special Wish Foundation’s annual Valentine’s Dance at Wright State University’s Nutter Center. The dance is the signature fundraiser for the organization.

“It will definitely be a different experience and I’ll be nervous, but it is exciting. I’m honored A Special Wish asked us to be the speakers,” Tonya said. The Forrors plan to tell the audience how they became involved in the wish granting organization.

“We feel blessed to be part of the Special Wish family. I’m glad they always include us in what they do,” Tonya said.

The dance includes the Dancing with the Dayton Stars event where six local celebrities pair up with six professional dancers who compete for a mirrored ball trophy. The evening also includes hors d’oeuvres, drinks, a silent auction and dancing to live music.

Valentines Dance tickets are still for sale. To reserve a seat or table for 10, call 937-641-4265. Persons interested in holding their own fundraising event or volunteering in other ways for A Special Wish Foundation can go online to www.aspecialwish.org or call 937-223-WISH (9474).

Susan Gnann is the marketing and development manager for the Dayton Chapter of A Special Wish Foundation.