Kennedy Snyder is an extraordinary little Wilton girl whose fight against cancer has inspired a big movement.
Ten-year-old Kennedy and her family—Wilton residents Jeff and Kristy Snyder, and younger brother Nate—have turned their personal struggle against Kennedy’s rare form of spinal cord cancer into an effort to help others.
Because the kind of cancer Kennedy has is so rare, the chance for large-scale national fundraising is very low. So seven years ago, the Snyders (along with the handful of other families facing the same fight) formed the CORD Foundation, which targets local, grassroots fundraising. Monies the foundation raises through the families’ personal efforts can then be awarded as grants to researchers working for a cure.
The CORD foundation’s acronym is fitting for the kind of people the Snyders are: Cure for Others through Research and Development. Emphasis on others.
Since starting the foundation, they’ve raised significant funds for medical research. Now they’re putting their efforts into their first fundraiser in Wilton. The Snyders have teamed up with four other Wilton families to stage the Great Wilton Scavenger Hunt on April 9th.
The event has been designed to be a boisterous, celebratory road rally in which teams will race around town gathering clues and hitting checkpoints. They’re looking for more families to participate.
It was important to Jeff, Kennedy’s dad, that the event be family-oriented, spirited and unifying—all words easily used to describe Kennedy and her parents.
Since meeting the Snyders a couple years ago, I’ve learned so much from them about grace and life outlook. I’ve seen how they turn each piece of negative news and channel it all into positive, outward good. They are all about making a difference for others and making the most of every moment they have.
Since being diagnosed at age 2, Kennedy has faced two painful surgeries and multiple rounds of chemo regimens. With periodic MRIs every 4-5 months to track her tumor, Jeff says they live in the short spans between scans, and choose to focus on doing for others rather than dwelling on their personal situation.
“I hate to feel this, ‘Oh, woe is me. Can people help us out?’ It’s really not like that. But at the same time, with the tumor growing, it’s led us to say, ‘You know what? Now is the time, let’s do something.'”
It’s a philosophy Jeff says is rooted in the way they choose to celebrate what they have rather than dwell in what they don’t.
“In the long run, it has been a blessing to go through this,” says Jeff. “Not to be too cliché, but we don’t sweat the small stuff. There’s a different outlook on life, and the way your raise your kids and being able to spend time with them and what really matters and what’s really important. Is it the fact that you’re going to make your kid sit at the table until he finishes his Brussels sprouts? Or are you really going to be able to maximize and get the most out of life every day.”
He adds, “We’ve got very interesting, personable, spirited kids because we capitalize on that type of living and thinking.”
According to Jeff, organizing an event like this is perfect for Wilton. It’s designed for families to enjoy the game together—as long as there are four adults and accompanying children, you’re eligible to register as a team and join in the fun.
The race will start and end at Merwin Meadows. Teams will receive a clue packet and they’ll have three hours to run around Wilton following hints to look for objects and take pictures in order to satisfy all the requirements. At the end of the race, teams will report back to Merwin Meadows to tally points earned on the hunt. With a silent auction, trophies, prizes donated by several Wilton merchants, and The Pizza Truck Company feeding everyone, it’s bound to be a unique celebration of Kennedy’s spirit.
It’s a spirit Kennedy’s parents are inspired by daily.
“To be battling this, and to go through it with a smile on her face and she laughs and she doesn’t take things seriously,” her father says. “She goes through a lot, she has physical limitations, she can’t participate in athletics. You would never ever know it from looking at her. She is lighthearted and fun and just has at it. That’s a constant reminder to me, here I am stressing some times and sweating the small stuff, and she just has been an inspiration. It’s amazing that someone at age 10 can have that kind of impact on your life.”
Families wishing to participate as racers or as cheering bystanders, as well as anyone interested in sponsorship opportunities, can visit the event’s website, www.greatwiltonscavengerhunt.com. Team registration costs $250 per team ($125 per family). Because Jeff Snyder's company is underwriting the costs of the event, 100% of the registration fees will benefit Kennedy’s CORD Foundation.