Sally Campbell is living proof that teenagers can make an impact in their community.
The 17-year-old’s compassion for people struggling with cancer inspired her to create “Sallybrating with a Cause,” a nonprofit that has provided arts and crafts, meals, goodie bags, live entertainment and fun activities for residents of Hope Lodge in Tampa.
Hope Lodge provides temporary free lodging for cancer patients and caregivers of those patients receiving outpatient care at nearby Moffitt Cancer Center.
Besides bringing joy and good cheer to cancer patients, the Pasco High senior’s caring ways also have caught the attention of others.
Recently, Sally was named a Lightning Community Hero.
The honor included a $50,000 donation from the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program.
Sally is donating half of the funds to the Hope Lodge. The other half will go toward a scholarship to support her college education. She aspires to become a veterinarian.
To celebrate Sally’s community work, she and her story were displayed on Amalie Arena’s jumbotron during the first intermission of a Dec. 14 game against the Washington Capitals, in an arena filled with 19,000 fans.
The front-and-center moment was a bit overwhelming, at first, the teen said.
When she saw herself on the giant screen, she thought: ‘Oh, gosh, what do I do?’
“But, of course having everybody around me made me more comfortable,” she said.
In addition to the public recognition, she also received a behind-the-scenes tour of Lightning facilities, and met with Lightning forward Pat Maroon and Lightning CEO Steve Griggs.
“It was just really cool, and an amazing experience to have,” she said.
All that attention, however, stemmed from Sally’s sustained commitment toward helping others.
She launched her nonprofit organization in 2014, while she was still in middle school.
It was her way to honor the memory of her great-grandmother who succumbed to lung cancer, before Sally was born.
The Dade City teen keeps her great-grandmother’s legacy alive by regularly visiting the Hope Lodge. There, Sally shares her bright smile and a willingness to interact with those who are suffering.
Several times a year, Sally hosts dinners for Hope Lodge patients and volunteers.
She comes bearing goodie bags, and provides arts and crafts, live music and other activities.
To fund those uplifting visits, Sally organizes golf tournaments and poker runs. She also spreads awareness about her nonprofit during community festivals in Dade City.
Sally was just 12 when she began volunteering at the Hope Lodge, and ever since her very first visit, she has felt inspired to do more.
She explained that even a small gesture, such as providing a dinner, is both rewarding and motivating.
Hope Lodge patients are grateful for the attention and conversation, Sally said.
And, providing meals is a practical way to help — so patients and their caregivers don’t have to go out or worry about their next meal, after a long day of chemo and radiation.
In other words, the service helps “eliminate some of that burden” that cancer patients and caregivers may face each day, she said.
“We’ve had people tell us that we’ve been their saving graces as they’ve been going through treatments at Moffit Cancer Center next door,” Sally said. “All these people are so thankful and so appreciative of everything that we do, so it just kind of makes it like you want to go back.
“It’s really neat to see all the simple ways that you can make someone else’s day brighter,” she said.
Over the years, the teen has enlisted countless friends and family members to help her along the way.
She said she strives to set an example to her peers, to help them realize that they’re not too young to make a positive and notable impact.
It’s something her mother, Heather Campbell, has noticed over time as she chaperones her daughter’s Hope Lodge outings and other events.
“It’s like her good deeds that she does, it’s contagious. It rubs off and makes us want to get involved as well — which is not a bad thing,” Heather said.
“She inspires me, because she always gives of herself. Like a lot of kids think they just have to document volunteer hours, but she never thinks of it like that. She just goes out there and just does, just to give to others,” Heather added.
Besides her charitable work, Sally keeps plenty busy in other pursuits.
She is a multi-sport athlete at Pasco High. She ran cross-country this year and is back on the tennis team for her fourth year. She also played soccer her freshman and sophomore years.
She serves as president of the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society, she is involved in student council and the PTSA, and she shows hogs through the Dade City Future Farmers of America.
Regardless of what she’s doing, though, she understands the value of teamwork.
“It’s a lot to handle, but we get it all done,” Sally said. “That’s the good thing about having a bunch of people that are willing to help you and support you, no matter what.”
Published January 08, 2020