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The Power of Play in Action

On April 30, the 2022 Play Defeats Cancer Tour stopped at little miss Millie Spring’s house for the 10th build of the tour. Although the Dallas, Texas sunshine was on full blast, the team was full of excitement and energy to build hope for Millie and her three older sisters, Lucy (10), Sadie (7) and Willa (4). The Spring family was ready to jump in after meeting the Roc Solid team, Janet, Rich, Anja, Don and Mike, and hearing the “why’s” from all the volunteers. Julie Spring, Millie’s mama bear, said meeting the team and volunteers and hearing their “why’s” was her favorite part of the day. She told us, “It means so much to us that all these people are working and volunteering to help give families affected by cancer some hope.”

On her build day, Millie was just 22 months old and fighting Medulloblastoma (a type of brain tumor), but her bright smile and toddler giggles on the day of the build would never let you know it! Millie’s mama and papa bears, Julie and Matt Spring, were eager to get their hands on the drills along with their three oldest daughters. Together the family built the rock wall for the playset. Matt, Millie’s papa bear, and Lucy and Sadie all said that was their favorite part of the day—working together to build part of their playset as a family. 

The power of play

When it came time for the reveal, the Spring girls’ squeals were heard all around the neighborhood as all four sisters ran straight to the playset, helping their littlest sister go down the slide for the first time. Millie has spent a lot of time staying in the hospital, which means she was away from her sisters for a long time since visitors were not allowed in hospitals due to COVID safety regulations. “They did come see her sometimes to wave from the parking lot, but that’s as close as they could get while she was hospitalized. This separation really made it difficult for everyone, especially the four sisters. They missed out on so much time together. Time that they should have spent playing and making memories together,” Julie told us. Matt and Julie said one of the most special things about having a playset is that their daughters can spend time together and make lasting memories. 

“This is what life should be like” 

“I think this playset will help them be able to make up some of the time they lost out on. They absolutely LOVE the playset. They are on the playset as much as they can be. They’re playing together, swinging together, pretending to be Rapunzel stuck in her tower, serving pretend meals at the counter, laughing, smiling and creating memories that will last forever. It brings tears to my eyes to watch them. This is what life should be like, this is what they should be doing; not worrying about cancer or not being separated from each other. It has given them a space to forget how hard life has been the last 8 months.”

Millie’s playset was sponsored by the Cowboy Channel in Dallas, Texas, and they brought Millie her very own, custom fit cowgirl hat! We asked all three oldest Spring girls about their favorite part of the playset. Lucy said, “I can spend more time outside and it makes me happier.” Sadie told us, “It makes life easier so I can play on it in my backyard. Thank you for building it for us!” Willa said her favorite part is, “I get to play with Millie on it.” And the whole Spring family agreed that Millie’s favorite part of the playset is going down the slide. 

Julie told us, “It’s so obvious how much they have missed being able to play on a playset. It’s fun to watch Millie figure out how to play on a playset. So thank you! Thank you for bringing our family laughter, joy, smiles, love, hope and wonderful memories. You all hold a very special place in our hearts. Thank you for doing such important work!”

In May of 2023, Millie celebrated her third birthday and is doing great! She and her sisters still love playing together on their playset.

We are taking hope on the road again this year during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month for the 2023 Play Defeats Cancer Tour! Click here to donate toward building more playsets for kids fighting cancer just like Millie and to share the “I Play For” sign to honor someone you know who has been impacted by pediatric cancer.