Success Spotlight: Robin Spidell
Another example of Shell Houston Open Dollars at work
Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Texas Gulf Coast & Louisiana
Ten years ago Robin Spidell had one simple wish. He wanted to be "the boss of the ice cream man." He also had T-Cell Lymphoma, a form of cancer that affected his lungs and immune system. Back then, he was in the middle of a 2 1/2-year battle that included aggressive chemotheraphy and painful spinal taps. It was a long, painful journey that kept him at Texas Children's Hospital as much as three to four days a week for 30 weeks. However, when he was at home, recovering, he looked forward to frequent visits from the neighborhood ice cream man.
"I remember that I couldn't wait for the ice cream man come by. At the time, that was a big deal," said Spidell. "I think that's also when I first realized how expensive things could be. I mean, it took eight quarters for a Lemon Freeze! For a kid, that's a lot."
Robin also noticed that some kids in his neighborhood didn't have that many quarters. Knowing the ice cream man visits were highlights in his week, Robin's parents always made sure he had enough change, however other kids weren't so lucky. Robin wished that he could fix that problem. Soon after, he discovered he would.
With help from The Make-A-Wish Foundation assisted by funds from the Shell Houston Open and the Houston Golf Association (and free ice cream donated by Blue Bell!), Robin's wish came true. On a spring day in May 1997, Robin put on a hat dubbing him "The Ice Cream Man", boarded the truck and handed out free frozen treats to the kids in his Pearland neighborhood.
"It was incredible. We have this photo in our entry hall that was taken that day, where he was totally bald and really pale, but he had the biggest smile on his face," said his sister Cayce Smith Connolly, who remembers the experience fondly. "He was so happy, he was just beaming. It was an amazing experience. It helped us all so much, I will never forget that day."
Fast forward ten years, and Robin is now a healthy young man, who is an impressive drummer, playing every week for his church band, practicing for the school musical, playing on the junior varsity tennis team and looking forward to getting his driving permit.
He also still likes to give back. Last week, to celebrate a decade of health, he joined representatives from Shell Houston Open, Houston Golf Association and Blue Bell to once again hand out free ice cream to neighborhood kids...including giving to a little girl who lives across the street with cancer.
"It¹s amazing how things happen. The family across the street was there when we went through it with Robin, and now we're doing what we can to be there for them," said Cheryl Smith, Robin's mom. "The whole cancer treatment process was hard on Robin and each member of our family. But he had this incredible opportunity, and he really wanted to give to other people. That's just how he is. Even now, as typical teenager, he has the best heart. He will always help anyone. As a mom, I have a lot to be thankful for. That includes The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Shell Houston Open, Houston Golf Association, Blue Bell Ice Cream and everyone who helped make this happen. They gave us a little more hope back then, and I will always be grateful for that. It was a true gift."
Shell Houston Open offers thousands of Houston children and their families the gift of hope and help each year, giving almost $44 million dollars since 1992 to groups like the Make-A-Wish Foundation, one of the tournament's core charities, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. In other words, it gives children like Robin a chance for a dream to come true.