Mike Griffith gives financial, emotional, and spiritual help to families with sick children

It's a picture-perfect day at the North Point Yacht Club in Sparrows Point. Mike Griffith is running around, checking on the band, directing the food to the right spot, and welcoming parents and their families.

It's Gold Day on the Bay, a family-fun day his foundation Gold in Fight is putting on for the families they serve.

"There will be kids here today who have fought and are survivors. There will be kids here that are still fighting and then we have a few families here whose kids just didn't make it," he said.

Childhood cancer is not something Griffith has experienced personally but it's becoming his life's work to take care of sick children and their families.

"Why did we start this? I don't know. I fell in love with these kids. I fell in love with these families. My heart breaks for them."

Griffith started Gold in Fight two years ago to help families cover things like car payments or electric bills while they focus on nursing their kids back to health. Gold in Fight helped Jim Adams' family when his granddaughter Sarah was diagnosed with brain cancer.

"Mike and his foundation are a godsend," said Adams. "It's hard when you work so hard and you have to reach out for help, but we did. (Mike) has taken care of car payments for us and unexpected bills that came up."

When the Baier family's youngest son Tyler went through chemotherapy and radiation, Griffith and Gold in Fight were there to lend a hand.

"When we needed help with our bills, we would have been nothing without them," said Tyler's father, Ernie. "They helped us get back on our feet. They're just a godsend."

Gold in Fight also takes care of the families' mental and emotional well-being. Last December, they pampered dozens of moms at the Frederick David Salon in Severna Park, giving the mothers a brief break from staying by their child's bedside at the hospital.

In March, the Baltimore Blast teamed up with Fogo de Chao to host a day for kids from Gold in Fight on the soccer field, followed by dinner at the restaurant. 

There are plenty of high moments for Griffith, as well as the grim reminders that he can't save every child who comes into his life.

"That's the hardest part of this whole thing. We've lost four kids this year and that really hurts, it does, and that's why I think these families need so much help," he said.

So until there is a cure for all cancers, Griffith will continue to get in the ring and fight for the families who need him. His 20 years in the Army overseeing soldiers is giving him the strength to do what's necessary for the parents and their kids.

"I'm use to taking care of troops, that's what I did for a living and I kind of lost that," he said. "I guess this is kind of the selfish part of me is fulfilling that void of taking care of people. I like taking care of people. I love children. I love to see a smile on their face."

Gold in Fight is having its Birthday Bash fundraiser on September 22 at the UAW Hall at 1010 Oldham Street in Baltimore. $40 for adults, children under 9 are $20. The menu includes beef, ham and sausage on the pit, meatballs, potatoes, and pasta salads. Email goldinfight@goldinfight.org for details on how to buy tickets.

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