The SOMFAB (Some of My Best Friends are Bald) Golf tournament started as a vision by Aldo Sabino, an employee of the FBI and member of the FBI Recreation Association. Aldo’s wife, a nurse in the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady Children’s, told Aldo that SOMFAB, a cancer support group for teenagers, was in need of additional funds to help the patients during support group meetings. SOMFAB was founded in 1990 by Rady Children’s nurse, Amy Schneider. She was looking for a way to help teens battling cancer find a way to express themselves with other teens experiencing the same illness. The group meets at the hospital where the teens share experiences they have had both at the hospital and in their personal lives. This is a program that is funded entirely by philanthropy.
Being diagnosed with cancer at any age is devastating - but when you are a teenager, that point in your life when you are forming your identity, finding a group of friends to belong to, having fun with extracurricular activities or just wanting to fit in - all of the sudden you are isolated, you look different than everyone else and are not always able to continue with normal adolescent activities. For the sibling of a cancer patient, often their road is treacherous as the entire family is disrupted. Feelings of sadness, anger, isolation and guilt occur as the primary focus is always on the “sick one.”
That’s where SOMBFAB comes in. To the members, they may believe that it is all fun and games but in reality, SOMBFAB is providing a very critical service to these teens: a place to belong. A place where they can come and do not have to explain what is happening in their lives. For the kids who are going to survive their disease, SOMBFAB provides them with the opportunity to interact age appropriately so that their return to school and activities is smoother. For the kids who will not survive their disease, this is their opportunity to engage in healthy, normal adolescent fun. The wonderful memories they make at SOMBFAB last a lifetime, no matter how long or short that lifetime might be. For siblings, they are immediately surrounded by people who understand their unique and difficult situation.
Aldo understood the need for these kids to have a support group and was determined to find a way to ensure that the program received funding, so he formed a committee and founded the SOMFAB Golf Tournament in 2006. In its first year, the tournament raised a small but generous donation of $2,500 for the program. It has continued to grow over the years, celebrating its 5th year in 2011 and raising more than $20,000! The donations that Aldo and the tournament have raised have enabled the hospital to expand the SOMFAB program to include celebrations at Dave and Busters, Disneyland, beach parties, excursions, pajama karaoke nights, Christmas parties and more. This group continues to touch the lives of teens throughout the community, providing an invaluable source of emotional support.
Many patients have indicated that SOMFAB is equally as important as the clinical treatment they receive while at Rady Children’s. The support of Aldo and the FBI Recreation Association provide teens battling cancer with hope and healing.