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10 Ways Nonprofits Attack Childhood Cancer

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Published September 24, 2015 Reading Time: 7 minutes

Nearly 15,780 kids are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. each year. Many organizations work hard to support affected families, touch lives, and ultimately eliminate childhood cancer and its devastating effects. But the cause is multi-faceted, and these social impact organizations must attack the problem from many different angles.

To honor Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we’ve rounded up 10 organizations that are addressing this issue in unique ways. All of them provide a number of different programs, but we’ve highlighted the special initiatives that set them apart.

1. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California

Creating a Home Away From Home

Ronald McDonald House Charities

When a family undergoes a cancer diagnosis, the financial strain of staying together in another city can be incredibly difficult and overwhelming. The Ronald McDonald House Charities creates a “home away from home” for families so that they can stay near their hospitalized child, without the financial toll.

The Southern California chapter provides programs that each provide home-cooked meals, private bedrooms, child playrooms, and other special services to help families feel the familiar comforts of home. The Southern California chapter is also one of the few chapters across the world that operates a Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, a free camp for children with cancer and their families. All of these services aim to help families focus purely on the health of their child.

To learn more about RMHCSC, check out their website here.

2. Vs. Cancer

Focusing on Both Local and National Impact

duke vs childhood cancer

Vs. Cancer is committed to saving children’s lives by empowering athletes and communities to fund lifesaving childhood cancer efforts. While they have one goal—to cure childhood cancer—they are hurtling toward it from two different angles. They are improving the treatment and wellbeing of kids currently fighting cancer, while also funding pediatric cancer research.

Enter their half and half model. Of every dollar raised, 50 percent goes to a local childhood cancer hospital in supporters’ communities, and 50 percent funds national research to find new and better treatments. In its first two years, Vs. Cancer rallied supporters to raise over 1.5 million dollars. In 2014 alone, Vs. Cancer’s work has served more than 50 children’s hospitals and 40,617 children.

Ashleigh Kincaid, Director of Marketing and Hospital Relations, says,

We are focused on funding every aspect of how a child beats cancer. Not only do we want to make a difference in the lives of kids who will be diagnosed in the future through research, but we also want to help the kids fighting right now, by funding essential programs at local children’s hospitals.

3. Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation

Delivering Gifts to Children With Cancer


The Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation aims to elevate the mental, social, and emotional wellbeing of families undergoing cancer treatment. The organization heads the Bear-Able Gifts Program, the largest supplier of gifts to children with cancer in North America.

Each quarter, the organization’s network of social workers and child life specialists can request toys and gifts for the children they serve, including board games, toys, coloring books, video games, books, and more. Volunteers prepare the packages for different age groups, which are then shipped to hospitals and oncology centers across the country. Thousands of children receive special gift packages every year.

Get more information about their Bear-Able Gifts Program here.

4. Emilio Nares Foundation

Providing Transportation to Treatment

Childhood Cancer Awareness

For many families, one of the first major challenges is simply making it to the treatment facility. The Emilio Nares Foundation (ENF), an organization assisting families who have children diagnosed with leukemia and other forms of childhood cancer, tackles this issue through their flagship program, Ride With Emilio (RWE). RWE is a transportation service that ensures children make it to their treatment appointments.

Currently, RWE operates in San Diego County and Orange County. The program serves an average of 30 to 40 families in San Diego County per week, while RWE Orange County transports about 40 families every year. Between September 2013 and August 2014, RWE’s vans provided 2,413 trips for patients and family members to their cancer treatments.

Heidi Cramer, Development Director at ENF, says,

It’s unacceptable for a child to miss their cancer treatment due to lack of transportation. We won’t stop until there is available transportation at every children’s hospital across the country. We take for granted the fact that the majority of us can drive ourselves to a cancer treatment appointment. For the families we serve, it is a life-saving ride.

Learn more about ENF’s impact here.

5. Go4theGoal

Offering Financial Support and Granting Wishes


Along with a cancer diagnosis often comes financial strains. Among its other programs, Go4theGoal, an organization improving the lives of children battling cancer, helps to relieve these financial and logistical difficulties for families. Within a day, they respond to requests for help with medical and household bills, travel for treatment, tuition assistance, and other needs.

To also help lift children’s spirits, the organization grants wishes to help families create meaningful memories together. From toys, to VIP experiences, to special family trips, these fulfilled wishes provide children and their families the opportunity to share a positive experience during treatment.

Learn how you can get involved just in time for National Pediatric Cancer Awareness day.

6. Camp Kesem

Supporting Children Through Their Parents’ Cancer

Camp Kesem

More than 3 million kids are affected by a parent’s cancer, and their neglected needs often result in academic, social, emotional, and developmental issues. Camp Kesem addresses this problem by giving these children the extra support and attention they need—along with the opportunity to just be kids.

The national community provides one-week summer camp experiences for these children, complete with fun activities and designated “Cabin Chats” where they can share their experiences with fellow campers and counselors. Camp Kesem has 62 chapters across the United States, and each chapter is run by college student leaders at a university.

7. Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health

Providing Data and Research to Improve Children’s Health


The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health is the fundraising arm of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford and the child health programs at Stanford University School of Medicine. The foundation works to increase the priority of children’s health and improve the quality and accessibility of children’s health care.

One of their unique contributions to the cause is their easy-to-use resource, kidsdata.org. The website brings key children’s issues to public attention by providing extensive current data and research on children’s health in California, making it easy for leaders and policymakers to tap into data in their work. Whether they need to assess community needs, craft grant proposals or reports, or track progress, those who work on behalf of children can easily access data on hundreds of child health measurements.

Learn more about how you can support the foundation.

8. Pablove Foundation

Connecting Parents and Medical Professionals

Pablove Foundation

The Pablove Foundation invests in innovative pediatric cancer research grants, educates cancer-stricken families, and enriches the lives of children with cancer through the arts. To inspire families and educate them about childhood cancer, the organizations hosts annual childhood cancer symposiums that bring parents and leading medical experts together.

At the symposiums, caregivers and survivors can attend for free to learn about specific, rare childhood cancers and treatment, connect with top pediatric cancer researchers, and meet other families who are going through similar situations. When understanding your child’s cancer is a struggle, resources like this can help you receive the in-depth information and support you need.

Brynne Zaniboni, Marketing and Communications Manager, says,

For families of children diagnosed with cancer, navigating the field of treatment options is daunting, to say the least. We work to provide programming that is both educational and supportive to families and caregivers of kids living with cancer.

9. Okizu

Providing a Childhood Camp Experience


Okizu’s mission is to provide peer support, respite, mentoring, and recreational programs to support all members of families impacted by childhood cancer. While they initially began by providing a normal life experience for children living with cancer, they quickly learned that every family member is affected in a unique way.

That’s why for more than 33 years, Okizu has partnered with pediatric oncology treatment centers in Northern California to provide oncology, siblings, family, bereavement, and Teens-N-Twenties programs. These programs are built around a residential camp experience that gives children and families affected by childhood cancer the chance to connect with peers and get the emotional support they need.

10. National Children’s Cancer Society

Supporting Life Beyond Childhood Cancer


The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS) provides emotional, financial, and educational support to families and survivors of childhood cancer. Among their various initiatives, the organization’s Beyond the Cure program educates and prepares survivors and their families for life beyond cancer. An online information center, conferences, and free publications are all available for survivors to learn about the late effects of treatment.

In addition, NCCS awards college scholarships to survivors through their Beyond the Cure Ambassador Scholarship program. Forty scholarships are given annually, and the scholarship program has awarded more than $650,000 in scholarship money to childhood cancer survivors across the nation.

For more information about NCCS, check out their website here.

If you need ideas on how to celebrate Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, start here. These organizations are driving the cause forward, from many different angles. Join the cause and make an impact today.

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