It’s been two years since 10-year old Lily Preston has been able to attend school regularly. It’s no surprise, then, that she is excited to go back. In fact, she spent an entire day of her recent vacation to Table Rock Lake shopping in Branson for back-to-school clothes and school supplies.

It’s been two years since 10-year old Lily Preston has been able to attend school regularly. It’s no surprise, then, that she is excited to go back. In fact, she spent an entire day of her recent vacation to Table Rock Lake shopping in Branson for back-to-school clothes and school supplies.

The Independence fifth grader and her family were in the Ozarks courtesy of a local charity, the University of Table Rock Lake Foundation (UTRLF). The organization’s mission is to provide vacations to the Branson/Table Rock Lake area for children with cancer and their immediate families.

After two years of battling ependymoma, a rare type of brain tumor, Lily has been looking forward to a trip that didn’t include a visit to the hospital for more radiation, chemotherapy or surgery.

Lily had been scheduled for a UTRLF vacation last August. But a relapse forced the family to cancel their plans. Now that Lily’s tumor has been removed and she is on maintenance chemotherapy, there was nothing to interfere with the trek this year.

Her mom, Kristina, said, “She was so excited that in the car on the way here she kept saying ‘Time’s not going fast enough!’”

Once the family arrived, Lily said that she had even more fun than she expected.

It all started when the family checked in to their accommodations at Still Waters Resort at Indian Point on a Friday afternoon. They were greeted by UTRLF founder Don Bishop. Bishop is a two-time cancer survivor and disabled Army retiree.

Bishop created the Foundation because he knows that “families with sick kids need to get away and have some fun. With all their medical bills, sometimes a vacation just isn’t in the budget.”

The fun really heated up on Saturday at Silver Dollar City-in more ways than one. The 90-plus-degree temperatures didn’t slow Lily down, though. She and her 15-year old brother, Wyatt, braved Thunderation and PowderKeg, and Lily stayed cool by riding Lost River of the Ozarks twice, getting soaked both times.

“Lily’s a water baby,” Jeanie, her grandmother, explained.

According to her dad, Bobby, Lily spent a lot of time after each day’s activities in the Still Waters Island Oasis pool under the waterfall. Her aunt and uncle even drove up from Arkansas and joined her in the pool.

She absolutely loved the condo’s whirlpool bath. “She spent at least three hours there,” Kristina said.

Even though she’s anticipating going back to school, Lily didn’t want her vacation to end. When it was time to leave the condo, she turned to Kristina and asked, “Can we just move in here?”

For more information about the University of Table Rock Lake Foundation and the families that it has sponsored, please visit their website at www.uoftrl.com, or give them a call at 417-739-4386.