We all have a “WHY”
Mara Campolungo, the Executive Director of The Sandbox has a very big “Why” for starting The Sandbox. Mara’s brother, Mark, was her inspiration, best friend, and confidant throughout her life. Mark’s premature passing at 46 years old not only rocked her existence but it was the spark to re-evaluate the ways she was giving back and using her abundant gifts.
While honoring Mark at his life celebration, countless people revealed something she never knew, but was not surprised by — he provided medical care to many individuals in need without insurance.
Mara knew that even in death Mark would be her greatest inspiration. He inspired her to change the trajectory of her career to one of service. He fueled the birth of The Sandbox.
Mara was now inspired to serve and searched for ways to give back within her community, which led her to volunteering at Levine Children’s Hospital. In 2010 Mara, along with her husband Neil, Brian Dulin, the co-founder of The Sandbox, and a group of friends helped families in need at Christmastime.
When the holiday season passed they wanted to continue to provide support for families. In March of 2011, a social worker at the hospital asked if they could host a prom for patients who would miss their own prom due to treatment or the eventual impact of their illness. The answer, of course, was “Yes!” and The Sandbox’s signature event, An Evening of Believing Prom was born.
Approaching 2023, The Sandbox will host its 4th Weekend of Believing and celebrate 9 An Evening Of Believing Proms. And while they have continued to host prom over the years until COVID, a few things have changed along the way; Mara wanted to create a personalized way to meet the needs of families exactly where they are on their journeys and that sparked the development of The Sandbox CARRE Program.
Mara released the CARRE Program in 2016, which stands for Caring About Real Relationships Empathetically. The CARRE program supports families by matching resources within our own communities to the needs of families that have children with complex medical needs. CARRE is a reflection of the true mission of serving families with a personalized plan for how they need support, when they need support, and for as long as they need support.
The Sandbox has humbly served more than 5,500 families in the greater Charlotte region through a variety of programs and events.
When a child is diagnosed with cancer, life-altering, rare or terminal illness, it is our mission to lock arms with people in our community to meet the practical, social and emotional needs of families at the time of diagnosis or referral. We want to create opportunities for families that encourage friendships, create lasting memories, produce joyful experiences and most importantly, restore hope.
Everyone wants to know why we are named “The Sandbox?”
A sandbox is a place of fun, excitement and joy. It’s a place where people of any age can gather together to express themselves and build something wonderful and know they belong. It is our hope that we are able to provide support unique to each family’s circumstances.
Want to play in The Sandbox with us?
We’d love to have you! Click here to learn more!