By Stetson Miller

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A non-profit based in Maryland is giving back to those who give so much to care for their loved ones.

In February 2020, Derrick and Sadra Thomas were given a very special trip to SeaWorld in Orlando in memory of their late 17-year-old son, Mattheu.

“A gift to help us get away and unwind,” Derrick Thomas said. “The trip was like closure.”

Mattheu died about a year before, after a long battle with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer. His parents tirelessly supported and cared for him.

“He was going through so much pain,” Derreck Thomas said. “The least one could do was just to be at his side and support him every step of the way.”

The trip was given as a gift to the Glen Burnie couple by the Boys Latin School, where Derrick Thomas taught, and by a nonprofit based in Baltimore County called CaringOn.

“We enable patients and we started enabling cancer patients to thank their caregivers by giving them a gift of care which was respite,” Lee Kappelman, Founder of CaringOn, said.

It was started in 2013 by Kappelman and Judy Davanzo, who both were fighting cancer, as a way to give caregivers a break.

While Davanzo passed away in 2016, Kappelman carried on her legacy.

“We thought that the legacy might be caring for caregivers,” Kappelman said.

Over the years, they’ve given about 60 gifts to different caregivers, including broadway shows, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concerts and cooking classes, picked out for the caregiver based on their interests.

Now, its mission has expanded beyond giving to those who support cancer patients, but also Alzheimer’s, and now, COVID patients.

For everything CaringOn does, families like Derrick and Sadra Thomas are very grateful.

“A caring organization coming and supporting us in the way they did means so much to us,” Derrick Thomas said.

To find out how to help CaringOn, please click here. To learn more about Mattheu Thomas click here

Stetson Miller


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