BRANDON — Brooke Lime doesn't remember having cancer.
She remembers weekends filled with arts and crafts, staying up late in a bunk bed telling jokes with friends and getting a teddy bear.
"As she grew up, the only thing she remembered from having leukemia is the fun times at camp," says Brooke's mom, Jennifer Lime. "I'm the one that knew all the yucky stuff and she's the one that knew all the fun stuff."
Now, Brooke, who was diagnosed with leukemia at 2, is 19. Doctors have declared her cancer free and she's a counselor at the same camp she remembers as a child. Mostly, she doesn't talk with the kids at Rotary's Camp Florida about her own cancer. But from her adult perspective, she can better grasp what the experience was like as a child.
Brooke and her little sister Hailey, now 14, have gone to Rotary's Camp Florida for most of their lives with Faces of Courage, a nonprofit that offers weekend get-aways for women and kids with blood illnesses or cancer and their siblings, as well as a break for their caretakers.
Faces of Courage has used Camp Florida for 15 years, says Peggie Sherry, founder of the organization.
"It's just a fun weekend that they can be in a medically secure environment," she says.
And several children, like Brooke, grow up to become counselors in training or counselors themselves.
Rotarians maintain Camp Florida and rent it to special needs groups at a discount. And the Rotarians get the money to help support the camps through donations and fundraisers.
The next fundraiser at Camp Florida is Saturday with the 20th annual Denizens of the Deep fish fry. Mitch Burley, a long-time member of Brandon Rotary '86, remembers the first fish fry back in 1994.
The group chose the fish fry 20 years ago because there were lots of golf tournaments out there already, Burley says, and they wanted families to have a way to spend the day together.
In boom years, the club can raise as much as $25,000, Burley says. The last few years have not been boom years, but Burley hopes they'll raise between $10,000 and $15,000 this year.
The event features all the fried fish, boiled shrimp, hush puppies, cole slaw, potatoes and dessert you can eat. The event also features bounce houses, a playground and live music.
Tickets for Denizens of the Deep are $20 for adults, $10 for teens 13 to 18 and kids 12 and under are free with a donation of canned food. For advance tickets, call (813) 484-6886. Food will be served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and money raised will benefit Camp Florida and a number of local organizations, including Faces of Courage.
Brooke plans to be back at camp this December, making sure that, like her, the kids there don't remember the details of what it's like to have cancer.