Remembering Carly

As I reflect back over the last thirteen years, I am reminded every day how one child can change the world by putting others first. The wish of every parent is to provide for their children and to protect them from harm. You teach them about life’s dangers, and raise them in a manner so they have the best possible chance for safety and success. I once thought I could protect my children from all dangers. I quickly learned this wasn’t the case. It was December of 1999 when our daughter Carly first started to complain of severe headaches. An MRI revealed a tumor located at the base of her brain. Our life changed forever that day, and never returned to what we knew as “Normal.”. The unthinkable had to be thought about, and more importantly addressed. After surgery, we learned she had medulloblastoma, a very aggressive form of pediatric brain cancer. Over the next three years, we spent over 300 days in hospitals across the east coast dealing with her cancer, and the side effects stemming from her treatments. We thought we had it beat on a number of occasions, but sadly Carly lost her battle on August 16, 2002 after a very courteous fight.  Shortly after her diagnosis, Carly founded an organization that exists to raise funds for research, and to make the experience more manageable for pediatric patients and their families.  We are amazed how one child, with one idea could help so many families.  We appreciate everyone who has made a difference in her memory.  Carly’s taught us what is truly important in life, and how important it is to give back to make someone else’s life better.  Thank you to everyone who makes a difference in the lives of so many families who are confronted with the unthinkable! 

For me, the hardest part was moving from a ‘curative’ to a ‘quality of life’ outlook during her care.  I still appreciate the fact that we got to tell her everyday that we loved her, and that our family was able to help her through her battle even though it didn’t turn out the way it was suppose to. I then think of the families who lose a son or daughter in an accident. One moment everything is normal, the next moment you receive that ‘phone call’ to learn you will never see your child again. Following Carly’s passing, we soon met others confronted with the loss of a child, and collectively realized we can make a difference to those who face life’s most tragic situation. Even though the stories and circumstances are different, the challenges to understand and cope with losing a child is painfully similar.  Contrary to what some people say and think, the “passage of time” doesn’t make it any easier. It’s difficult every day, but I know she is making a big difference in the lives of so many people. As a parent, I find some comfort in knowing that my family is not alone, and that Carly is not forgotten. Thank you to so many special friends and organizations.  From the professional athletes to the young kids who raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer, and to everyone who has taken the time and effort to CARE about others. Thank you!!!  To Carly’s friends who have stayed connected and who carry on her legacy. Thank you!  To the researchers who are developing tomorrow’s cancer treatments today!  Thank you.

And to Carly, we love and miss you!


Chuck Collard

Father of Carly (1991-2002)
Co-Founder Carly’s Club and Healing Hearts of WNY