top of page

Our Story

Climbing to the top.

Terri Jones-Robbins did not set out to start a nonprofit; however, from 1982-1992, what is now BASE Camp Children's Cancer Foundation operated out of the back door of the Leukemia Society of America, Central Florida chapter. Her dedication and commitment to helping those in need was evident from the beginning, and she soon found herself at the forefront of a new initiative - BASE Camp.







Terri Jones began volunteering for the Leukemia Society. It was the patients she met that would change her life and give her the passion to begin a lifetime of service to the Central Florida community. Terri joined the staff of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in a part-time capacity in 1980, quickly rising through the ranks and becoming a key advocate for leukemia research and patient support. 

Terri joined the staff of LSA and began meeting more and more children with cancer. It was through these encounters that she realized she couldn't change the fact that they had cancer, but she could try to brighten their days. Terri was inspired by their resilience and decided to take action. In addition to her work with the Leukemia Society, she discovered that she could coordinate free tickets to Disney World for these young patients.

During her years of service, Terri met Bob and Pat Carden, a couple who lost their first child, Tracy in 1981. The Carden's formed Candlelighters of Central Florida in 1983. The programs of Candlelighters expanded to include parent support groups, Family Holiday gatherings, and picnics. Terri joined the committee of the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation Central Florida and as a staff member of the Leukemia Society, she was able to volunteer her time for her first 10 years of service and collaborate to develop much-needed programs to help children and families facing the challenge of living with leukemia and other cancers.

Her experience working with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society and Candlelighters gave her unique insights into the needs of these families, and she used that knowledge to develop much-needed support services that served the teens and children. Through her efforts, she was able to bring joy to a challenging journey.


In 1985, Terri's own brother was diagnosed with AIDS. Always a sibling advocate, Terri was even more motivated to provide support and resources to the WHOLE family facing the challenges of childhood cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.


Terri continued to work tirelessly to improve the lives of children with cancer; developing programs like "attraction tickets," candle lighters, and teen social groups even after her time with Leukemia Lymphoma Society had ended. Terri's efforts were further enhanced when she met Laurie and Ben Dillard in 1989. Laurie and Ben, dedicated volunteers and supporters of the Leukemia Society, hosted a kick-off party at their unique property in Windermere, Florida - Kon Tiki. This event marked a turning point in Terri's journey, as she found kindred spirits who shared her passion for making a difference in the lives of children with cancer.


Terri's encounter with Laurie and Ben Dillard in 1989 marked a significant turning point in her journey, as she discovered like-minded individuals who shared her unwavering commitment to making a difference in the lives of children with cancer. Recognizing the urgent need for support, Terri approached the Dillard's and proposed the idea of hosting an overnight camp for local children affected by cancer at their enchanting house. This heartfelt request laid the foundation for a friendship and partnership that would go on to transform the lives of thousands of children and their families, providing them with hope, joy, and respite amidst the challenges of their cancer journey. 


Through this unique collaboration, Terri and the Dillards embarked on a remarkable mission to create BASE Camp Children's Cancer Foundation, a haven of healing and empowerment for young warriors battling against this devastating disease when they formally formed BASE Camp in 1992.


Named after the encampments on a mountain - A BASE CAMP is where you stop along the journey for rest, nourishment, guidance, and encouragement to finish the climb. For the past 42 years BASE Camp programs have helped more than 20,000 children and parents. Today BASE Camp programs help an average of 400 children and caregivers each week with the delivery of LUNCH or DINNER four days each week, weekly MILESTONE parties, daily FOOD BASKETS of groceries, weekly parent support groups, and their namesake MONTHLY OVERNIGHT BASE Camp "campout".

bottom of page