Cubby Caboose brings much needed cheer to children

Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 02:47 PM.

"It was a week to come together as a family and feel whole again," Patterson said. "The kids come together and get a week of feeling normal. They're with people who understand what they're going through."

Now that their daughter fought her battle with cancer and won, the entire family goes back to the retreat, not as a family with a sick child, but as volunteers.

The local community has been very supportive of the Lighthouse retreats over the years, said Chris Woodruff, executive director. The Donut Hole, Chick Fil-A and Bud and Alley's were just a few of the local businesses to donate food to the retreat. Each time Lighthouse comes to town, the organization likes to stay on the beaches of 30A.

"It's where we got started," Woodruff said. "It's a home for our retreats."

Tammy Mickle is a first-time volunteer. While she documents children riding the train and hugging Cubby, she gets a little teary-eyed. Mickle brought along her 12-year-old son to the retreat, saying she wanted to give him the chance to give back and serve.

"He loved it," she said. "He's had so much fun with the other kids."

Although Lighthouse is a Christian-based retreat, Woodruff says they do not discriminate against beliefs. The week-long vacation is not meant to convert, but to heal.

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