April 18, 2009
Joseph’s Journey is an organization dedicated to providing outdoor experiences to children with terminal and life-threatening illnesses, which was started in memory of Joseph Steuart who lost his battle with leukemia in 2000. Joe enjoyed the outdoors and all it had to offer, so his family (father Kim, mother Vickie, and sister Teresa) started Joseph’s Journey to allow other children with terminal and life-threatening illnesses the chance to enjoy the outdoors. Everyone in the organization is a volunteer, which ensures that more children receive an outdoor experience. Joe Steuart was a former student of mine. I had the privilege of being Joe’s band director from elementary school though middle school. When Joe was in 8th grade, he was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away within seven months. Following his death, Joe’s parents found a secret stash of money Joe had earmarked for a caribou hunt he never was able to realize. This was the impetus to begin Joseph’s Journey. I supported Joseph’s Journey financially for many years, and continued to help the organization more since my retirement from public school teaching. In 2008, I was asked to join the Board of Directors. Since this is a non-profit organization, everything functions through donations of money, goods, and services and through the time and efforts of a large group of volunteers. There are two annual fundraisers, a winter silent auction held in conjunction with Joseph’s former middle school music department and a garage sale in the summer. The third event is a yearly fishing derby that is a fun-filled day for all children under 21 years of age who are suffering from a terminal or life-threatening illness. The 2008 fishing derby set a new record with over 150 children and their immediate family members in attendance. The event was held at a private lake that had been recently stocked and children were all smiles and giggles as many trout, bluegills, and bass were caught and released that day. As a new board member, I was very touched by what I saw that day. Kim, Vickie, and Teresa are very committed and passionate in their service to these children. Some of the kids that came could barely walk and others were in specialized wheelchairs. I am sure these kids spend many of their days in the hospital or confined indoors. They were so excited to attend the fishing derby and you could sense they could forget, at least for a little while, about their challenges. It was a beautiful day and the kids and their families were so polite and appreciative of this opportunity to be outdoors. Joseph’s Journey works to fulfill the outdoor dreams of children. Wilderness experiences might be hunting, fishing, hiking – it is only limited by the imagination of the child. The journey usually will be for the child and one guardian, as we cannot accommodate the expense to include the entire family. We use only experienced, qualified guides and outfitters to provide these journeys, and we cover all costs including travel and meals. We make all the arrangements, so all the child and guardian have to do is show up at the correct place and time. To date, Joseph’s Journey has provided thirty journeys to very deserving children. Joseph’s Journey would welcome your help in locating families with a child suffering from a terminal or life-threatening illness, as perhaps they are unaware of who we are and all we have to offer. If you know of such a family, please feel free to share this information with them or their doctor.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
the joy they bring to many terminally ill children and their families.
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
MY ROLE:Board Member & I helped with the silent auction held with a MS music concert.