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September 2009

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Debby Stephenson - WINNER!

The Giving Back Award’s Readers’ Choice goes to Debby Stephenson of Courageous Kidz, who received a whopping 4,538 votes!


Debby ‘Flash’ Stephenson is a dynamo and a true believer in human spirit who lives for the service of children and their families 24/7 with no pay and no vacations, and openly shares her home on holidays and during times of need. The motto of the organization, ‘A safe haven for children with cancer,’ says it all. From hospital visits, dream dates, trips to Carowinds, and Mom’s Sleepover Weekends, she has worked tirelessly to provide emotional support and healing to both the children and the families.”

—Cheryl Cote


“The ‘Day of Magic’ for our daughters, Kaylee (age nine) and Kendall (age four), was a whole day where we didn’t have to focus on the illness, we got to laugh and be ‘normal.’ And that was only a small part of what Debby does for these kids and their families. Since that day we have gone to different events for Courageous Kidz: all were awesome, very well planned, with so much thought to make sure everyone had a good time without having to worry about this ugly disease we are forced to face each day. Debby Stephenson makes sure these kids have some ‘normalcy’ at the CK functions, and everyone is like a huge family. ‘Flash’ gives 1,000 percent of herself to these kids and the families.”

—Cindy Hall


“As a mom of a child who had been involved with Debby’s organization from the age of eight until her death at 15, I can attest to the value of the work that she continues to do through Courageous Kidz. ‘Flash’s organization brings a bit of brightness and fun—what every kid needs and every parent longs for—to the hospital room, to the home, or to wherever it is needed. Children’s cancer is not a high-profile charity. It doesn’t have any glitz or glamour attached to it. It takes hard work, steely courage, and a belief in your calling even when your heart is broken over the loss of a child. Debby has proved she is capable of this time and time again. Something to look forward to just one more time is often all these children have. Debby’s willingness and passion to give these children the spirit to ‘fight one more round’ (as she often says) is a blessing to this community.”

—Eva Fitzgerald


“Five years ago, I started a journey that I feared would be one that I traveled alone. My oldest daughter, 11 at the time, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Through a mutual friend, we came into contact with Debby Stephenson of Courageous Kidz. It has changed our lives and given my daughter more smiles over the years than I could ever describe.

There are no words to explain the fear and sorrow over watching your child cry in the chemo room because she is tired of vomiting as a result of the drugs that are being given to save her life. However, there were bright moments—the weekly visits from Debby ‘Flash’ and her wonderful helpers with smiles, laughs, videos, and cookies for chemo day. These amazing women would sit with us, even when Skyla was so sick she did not know they were there, and they would love us.

Two years ago, we were told that Skyla was coming to an end of available treatment. As terrifying as that thought was, Courageous Kidz swooped in with an amazing Day of Magic for Skyla and her sisters. She was treated like a queen—shopping at her favorite stores, eating great food, and riding the town in a stretch limo. You can only imagine how precious that one day of not being sick was to her.

Courageous Kidz creates a ‘safe haven for kids with cancer’ and in doing so they create smiles and memories that last a lifetime. There is not just one thing that Courageous Kidz does for this area and state—there are hundreds upon hundreds for each and every family and child that becomes part of this organization. Every month, there is a smile. With every tear, there is hope. With every action, there is love.”

—Julie Long

Click here to see all of the winners




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