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Be the Light

Emily Riedinger and Caroline Paris have been best friends since the fifth grade. While they met in school around many other kids, they quickly became inseparable and have been ever since. Somewhere along the line, they saw a video in which a girl talked of how inspired she was after finding ways to give back to her community. Both girls were touched and immediately began forming plans to do charitable work.

At the time, Caroline’s older sister Natalie was finishing up her leukemia treatment. The girls felt a natural draw toward helping children with cancer and, at Natalie’s suggestion, looked into what they could do for CURE.

“We found out we could assemble Boredom Buster Bags that would help kids during long hospital stays,” Emily said. “I mean, I get bored just being at home sometimes. I can’t imagine how bored I would get if I had to be in the hospital for days on end.”

So the two of them engaged their community and put together bags full of games and activities to entertain a child in the hospital for treatment. They got such great joy out of making these bags that they did it again the following year.

“When she was in treatment, Natalie got several of these bags from CURE,” Caroline said. “They really helped her through some long and difficult days.”

Making Boredom Buster Bags has now become a tradition, and the girls have also made snack bags, toiletry bags, and more. The past few years, they got their local Target, Kroger, and CVS involved to make bags and donate supplies. In December, Target on Windward Parkway put together forty bags as an employee project and added these to its donation.

Since they had been inspired by the video they saw in middle school, Emily and Caroline wanted to share the joy of giving back with kids their age. That led them to a new endeavor to raise funds – t-shirts that said, “[be the light.]”

“By buying t-shirts, the kids got something out of it,” Caroline said. “It makes people feel like they’re a part of something big when they see others wearing them around school.”

While they’ve been inseparable for seven years, they’ll soon be going different directions. Caroline plans to study to become a physical therapist at Berry College, and Emily hopes to enroll in University of Georgia’s child psychology program. Unsurprisingly, giving back plays a part in Emily’s future plans.

“I’ve struggled with anxiety since I was young, and there was someone who really impacted me,” Emily said. “I hope that once I have my degree, I can help others like I was helped.”

We truly appreciate these two young ladies’ dedication to making hospital stays a little easier for the children we serve. They are certainly a “light” and good example for all of us.

 

Lendmark Financial Services Climbs On

Take away the stadium stairs, the track, and all the fun of Lendmark Financial Services’ annual Climb to CURE and you might think the event would fold altogether. Yet it did not. Despite the fact that the event looked drastically different this year due to COVID -19, the 2020 climb was the most successful to date. Its overwhelming success is a credit to the company’s leadership, teamwork, passion, and determination to make a difference.

Bobby Aiken and Chip Madren

The Climb to CURE is the brainchild of Bobby Aiken, CEO of Lendmark Financial Services, who watched one of his childhood friends struggle through his son’s cancer treatment. Chip Madren’s fight became an inspiration to Bobby.

“I watched Chip literally fight for his life and win,” he said. “Chip’s fight has made me a better person and has positively impacted many, many lives.”

Being an avid stadium runner, Bobby decided to combine his love of running stadium stairs and his passion for helping children with cancer. He created a company-wide fundraiser – the Climb to CURE. With his own commitment to contributing to better outcomes for children with cancer, Bobby inspired employees, partners, and vendors to join the fight. That was five years ago. Nationwide, Lendmark employees and partners gave and hosted mini-fundraisers. The effort culminated with an in-person stadium climb involving 200-300 people the first four years. Altogether, those efforts raised an amazing $1,843,000.

This year’s COVID-19 requirements of social distancing and limited gatherings forced Lendmark to change the format of the Climb to CURE. Instead of the traditional in-person stadium event, they created a seven-day virtual step competition and fundraising challenge.

“While the local offices missed the fun and spirit of getting together, this year’s format allowed branches from coast-to-coast to fully participate. Being virtual was a different dynamic that spawned a lot of creativity,” said Kelsey Treadwell, Lendmark’s Marketing Manager.

Lendmark has 366 branches across the country, and many of them raised money in traditional ways. But some held unique fundraisers perfectly suited to this unique year. In Princeton, Kentucky, the branch formed a partnership with an Auntie Anne’s truck which donated proceeds of pretzel sales. The Pueblo, Colorado branch organized a motocross race complete with sponsors and merchandise which raised $8,000. Employees in the Clarksburg, West Virginia branch hosted a bingo night. Even though they had to limit attendance to half-capacity, they were able to raise the highest total of any branch at $11,000!

The company also stepped up in a big way by creating an incentive raffle. For every $100 a branch raised, they received a raffle ticket. The winning branch received quite a prize: all employees get to attend the company’s Choice Awards next year in Scottsdale, Arizona. Lendmark’s partners and vendors continued their support of the company’s efforts by giving generously. To culminate the event, Lendmark held a virtual “climb”. Employees laced up their tennis shoes and walked 13,186,408 steps, totaling more than 6,500 miles. Incredibly, the Climb to CURE raised a record-breaking $617,195!

The funds raised by Lendmark support CURE’s Precision Medicine Initiative, which involves precise gene-based treatment. CURE is leading the way in advancing this innovative therapy. Our work would not be possible without Lendmark’s support.

“People want to know where their money is going, which is why we focus on precision medicine,” said Ethan Andelman, Lendmark’s Chief Marketing Officer. “We’ve embraced CURE and their Precision Medicine Initiative in the hopes that it becomes the first line of treatment for kids with cancer.”

In October, CEO Bobby Aiken made a stunning announcement: Lendmark’s goal for the 2021 Climb to CURE is $1 million! With the passion and dedication they’ve shown, Lendmark has proven there is no mountain they won’t climb for kids fighting cancer.

A Rain on Parched Hearts

Anna Hanger was an extraordinary young woman, wise beyond her years and generous beyond words. In June 2003, Anna was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her treatment was long and hard, and she suffered many complications which caused her to be hospitalized for the better part of a year. While she achieved remission in 2004, it was short lived, and her cancer returned just months later. Doctors told her family there was no further treatment for Anna and urged her parents to quickly take a Make-A-Wish trip due to Anna’s poor prognosis and their concern that her quality of life would begin to decline quickly.

Anna and her parents did take a “final” trip. Anna was scheduled to have surgery two days after they returned. Prior to surgery Anna had an MRI. With tears in her eyes, Anna’s doctor shared the incredible results: Anna’s tumor was shrinking. Anna’s tumor continued to shrink over the next year. Although she remained cancer-free for many years, Anna faced several challenges in her young life.

No one would have blamed Anna if she became sad and angry as a result of her limitations and very serious challenges caused by the brain cancer and treatment. But that just wasn’t Anna. From the time she was diagnosed and received an outpouring of love and support, including gifts and cards from family and friends, Anna became very aware of the other children at the hospital who were not getting the same kind of support. It touched Anna deeply and was very hard for her to accept. In spite of the fact that Anna was almost completely deaf, had severe scoliosis from radiation treatments, significant balance issues, loss of feeling on one side of her face, and many other permanent disabilities, she became obsessed with finding a way to help the other children with cancer. The idea of Anna’s Angel Fund was born.

When people asked what they could do for her or what gifts they could bring her, Anna suggested they make a donation to her Angel Fund instead.

The Angel Fund gave Anna a way to help the children who touched her heart and also became something positive for her to focus on while facing her own battles every day. Anna maintained this fund for years, and of course, she insisted that all of her financial aid and gifts be made anonymously. Over the years, Anna raised and gave away more than $600,000 to children and families whose lives had been devastated by pediatric cancer. Anna found joy every day in making her gift of life count for other children. The fund was eventually retired, but Anna never stopped caring about and working to make life better for children with cancer.

“Through the generosity of its supporters, Anna’s Angel Fund will be a much-needed rain on their terribly parched hearts.”

In June 2019, Anna’s cancer returned, and she passed away in August 2020. Her parents, Larry and Lisa, recently faced their first Thanksgiving without their precious daughter. They drew on her grateful spirit and generous heart to get through.

“Throughout Anna’s life, and especially during her battle with cancer, we’ve expressed just how precious it has been to embrace gratitude,” Lisa shared. “Even now as we face the hardest days of our lives and struggle to learn to live without Anna, gratitude and grace sustain us.”

It is in that same spirit that her family has revived Anna’s Angel Fund as a Named Fund of CURE. All funds received will be directed towards CURE’s patient and family support programs.

“Reviving Anna’s Angel Fund is what Anna would want,” Lisa said. “Donations to the fund are directed toward CURE’s patient and family support programs because families fighting cancer are trapped in thoughts of mounting bills, loneliness, and fear of what the future holds. Through the generosity of its supporters, Anna’s Angel Fund will be a much-needed rain on their terribly parched hearts. In that way, our sweet Anna will still be making life better for children with cancer and their families.”

A gift to Anna’s Angel Fund will help to continue her legacy of caring for and helping families of children with cancer.

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Cancer for Christmas

My wife sat at her laptop furiously compiling the lists for our four girls. She checked it once, then again while travelling to website after website scouring the internet for the best price and delivery. Items were added to baskets and carts checked out at such a frantic pace that I literally felt a warmth emanate from the credit card in my back pocket. Shopping at a fever pitch – Christmas delivered in two days or less. Not like most years, where she disappears for hours on end to find the perfect gift at the mall. She didn’t have time for that because we got cancer for Christmas.

We didn’t ask for it. It wasn’t circled in a catalog or written in red crayon. No one sat on Santa’s lap and begged for it. No, cancer just showed up unannounced and took our year away. So rather than spending quality time with each of the girls to weigh their enormous wants against our limited budget as in years past, my wife spent Saturday morning hunting and pecking under great duress. Do they have the right size? Will it be delivered on time? Is that really something she will use, or should we just give her cash?

At some point during the madness, I asked her what she wanted for Christmas. She paused to consider. Her eyes got red and her mouth failed her. She didn’t answer, but I knew. I knew what she wanted the second I asked the question. It was the only thing either of us wanted.

We wanted our baby to stop hurting. We wanted her to stop having to face treatments that made her sick and waste away. We wanted her legs to work. We wanted her hair to grow back so people wouldn’t stare at her.

We wanted to give cancer back!

But giving cancer back wasn’t an option for us that year, so we worked hard to navigate cancer treatment and the holidays together. Did you get cancer for Christmas? From our experience, here are five things you can do to make your family’s holiday season as bright as possible.

  • Keep as many holiday traditions as you can. Much loved traditions remind us of better times when the current situation is not the way we would want it.
  • Take cues from your little patient. If they are ready to celebrate, celebrate hard. If they need to rest, accommodate that.
  • Find a balance. Your other children are hurting too, but they need and deserve to have as much normalcy as they can. It is a tough and stressful job to find a balance that allows everyone to have the best holiday possible. But it can be done.
  • Be open and get input. If you can find out what is most important to each family member, no one has to lose the things they love best about the holidays.
  • Find joy wherever you can. Whether in the giving of special gifts or time spent together, there is always joy to be found if you seek it out.

Dealing with a cancer diagnosis during December certainly puts a damper on holiday spirit. But it doesn’t have to end it altogether. Although it may seem impossible, if you are intentional, you and your family can still have a wonderful holiday.

Catie’s Fund

Making a Difference Through Community

Effingham County resident, Catie Wilkins was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor on her first birthday. Catie fearlessly fought her cancer, but the chemotherapy compromised her immune system so severely that she succumbed to a common virus before she reached her fifth birthday. In response to this tragedy, a special community has formed that is making a meaningful impact in the fight against pediatric cancer.

Effingham County sits on the Savannah River and while it has grown, it still boasts the small-town feel of its agricultural heritage. It is a place the Wilkins family is proud to call home. In the aftermath of their tragic loss, they knew Catie would want them to help other families, so they founded a Named Fund at CURE in her honor.

“Catie’s treatment was hampered by a lack of available options,” Jenny said. “There has been little research in treating childhood cancers, and our family felt that this needed to change.”

Their community embraced Catie’s Fund from the beginning. This year, the fund surpassed an incredible milestone by raising more than $2 million since its inception. This wouldn’t have been possible without people like James Carlson.

James owns Carlson & Company, and while he has no direct tie to childhood cancer, he has seen local families struggle while going through treatment. He and his company are actively involved in the Catie’s Gathering dinners, the primary fundraisers for Catie’s Fund, and donate event space, tents, and food.

“I’ve watched Catie’s Gathering evolve from hostesses using paper plates and plastic forks to using fine china and silverware,” James laughed. “I’m proud to be a part because of the impact it allows CURE to have in our community.”

The schools in Effingham County have been a huge part of the success of Catie’s Fund. The leadership at Springfield Elementary School wanted to impress upon their students the value of making a difference.

“We had a student who fought cancer, and we wanted to give the kids ways to help,” said teacher, Allison Brand. “Through dress-down days, coin drives, and other fundraisers, we’ve been able to contribute a lot of money. It’s great to see the kids really get into helping other kids.”

Apryl Lee attended a Catie’s Gathering event and felt the need to pitch in. Apryl founded a local SLAM (Sweat Like A Mother) group. This is a community of mothers and their children with a goal of fitness and health. While they celebrate their healthy children, she has used her forum to raise awareness and money for Catie’s Fund.

“I wanted to set an example for my children,” Apryl said. “I want them to know that we do what we can, when we can, to help others.”

Being next door, adding a Catie’s Gathering dinner in Savannah was a natural progression that became a reality in 2013 when Mandy Garola attended the Effingham event while her daughter, Cora, was in treatment. Seven years later, the Savannah Catie’s Gathering continues to thrive and has been supported by individuals and businesses, such as Coastal Electric, which has become the event’s title sponsor.

Thanks to the efforts of friends like Jody Polk, the Catie’s Fund community spread even further. Jody’s daughter, Anna Hays, is a leukemia survivor, and five years ago, Jody brought a Catie’s Gathering dinner to Statesboro. After the death of a local child, Morgan Frison, Jody spoke of what motivates her.

“Morgan’s life held such beautiful potential,” Jody said. “Morgan and children like her are the reason that I will continue to raise funds for CURE and push for less harsh treatments created specifically for children.”

Likewise, longtime friend of the Wilkins family, Angel Shurling, started a Catie’s Gathering event in her hometown of Bryan County four years ago.

“There were two children in our community who were diagnosed with cancer,” Angel said. “Every heart was open to them, and people wanted to make a difference. Catie’s Gathering gave them that chance.”

Thanks to their amazing and ever-growing community, the Wilkins family, Catie’s Fund, and all those involved are making a huge difference in the lives of children fighting cancer today and those yet to be diagnosed. It has become a beautiful legacy for a little girl taken too soon.

To learn more about Catie’s Fund and Catie’s Gathering events

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A Rock Band & A Little Girl Named AC

At first glance, an iconic Southern rock band and a sweet little girl with big hazel eyes would seem to have nothing in common. But a deeper look reveals two families, each with little girls stricken by cancer, who share a resolve to make a difference in the fight against childhood cancer.

In 2009, at the age of three, Lana Turner was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Lana’s dad, Brit, is the drummer of the popular rock band Blackberry Smoke. Thankfully, Lana got through treatment and, at 13, is doing great today. But Brit and the band wanted to ensure all children with cancer have a chance to grow up and live life like Lana is doing, so they started donating money raised through meet and greet packages to childhood cancer organizations.

“As a band, we have always tried to lend a hand anytime we were able,” Brit said. “But it wasn’t until Lana was diagnosed that I felt it from the other side. This was the first time I felt like I was completely helpless.”

In 2019, Blackberry Smoke worked with CURE to create a “Named Fund” called the Blackberry Smoke Fund. The goal is to focus the funds the band raises through the meet and greet packages and the annual Blackberry Smoke Ride for CURE for greatest impact. They felt they could do this best by working hand in hand with CURE.

As Blackberry Smoke was hosting meet and greets to raise money for research, another family across town was dealt a devasting blow. Another little girl, six-year-old Anna Charles (or “AC”) was recovering from a tonsillectomy. To her family’s shock, a blood test revealed she had leukemia.

Three days after her diagnosis, a mass of AML cells was discovered on her spine. She had emergency surgery to remove the mass, but it left her spine in shock – causing her to become paralyzed from her lower chest down. After four rounds of chemo, Anna Charles relapsed and began preparing for radiation and a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, her body began to shut down before the transplant could be scheduled. On September 16, 2018, Anna Charles passed away. Devastated by the loss of their beautiful little girl, AC’s family felt compelled to help other children facing the brutal disease.

“We have hope that one day there will be a cure for childhood cancer,” shared AC’s father, Benji. “Until that day comes, we are going to make sure that we do everything in our power to help find better treatments for all of our kids who are battling cancer. They are all ours!”

AC’s family created the Anna Charles Hollis Fund at CURE to provide advance clinical research relating to acute myeloid leukemia.

“CURE’s Named Funds are a great way for families to create a legacy for their child or otherwise honor the journey they have endured,” explains CURE’s Executive Director, Kristin Connor. They allow us, as a childhood cancer community, to work together for greatest impact while honoring the children who fight this fight.”

If you’d like to learn about honoring a Childhood Cancer Hero through a Named Funds, please visit curechildhoodcancer.org/namedfunds or fill out the form below and we will be in touch.

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Giving Cancer the BOOT… Army Style

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Noah Garner is a helicopter pilot in the United States Army. He entered the service in as an infantryman, then became a sniper and served in combat duty. After he rotated home, he made the decision to pursue aviation and hasn’t looked back. While his military career has taken many twists and turns over the past twelve years, the last three have been particularly turbulent because his youngest daughter, Chloe, was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

In 2017, Chloe had a slight head tilt and Noah and his wife, Annie, noticed her eye was shaking. They took Chloe to the base physician, who said she didn’t feel prepared to diagnose the issue and sent them to the hospital.

“We were supposed to be there for a quick 30-minute MRI,” recalled Annie. “But that turned into five hours. When the doctor finished, he came in and said she had a tumor.”

Further testing would reveal that her tumor was an optical glioma, and because of its type and location, it is rare for such a tumor to be surgically removed. Most of the time, the goal is to stabilize the tumor to prevent growth. Her doctors began to closely monitor Chloe’s tumor, and after nearly a year it was declared stable. Unfortunately, tumor growth was evident at a scan four months later, and even more in the next scan. So Chloe began a chemotherapy regimen designed to shrink it. Being separated during her treatment proved to be difficult for Noah.

“That was tough, especially during long rotations of nine months,” Noah said. “We relied on the internet to Facetime each other and send Marco Polo videos. I would get up very early in the morning so I could spend time with them before they went to bed.”

Noah was serving in Europe at the time. When they got the bad news of tumor growth, the commander of his unit was very supportive and worked to get him home as soon as possible.

The new chemo yielded frustrating results. Chloe’s tumor continued to be erratic – it would be stable at one scan and show growth the next. After another year, her medical team put Chloe on a new chemo called Avastin. And it worked!

For the first time, Noah and Annie heard the words, “Significant tumor reduction.” Noah was out of the country at the time, but the family celebrated this victory long distance!

Chloe recently finished her treatment. While she is feeling good, her vision has been affected. She has optic nerve damage from the tumor and her vision isn’t 20/20. But right now, she’s back to dancing and enjoying her favorite movie, Frozen. Her mother describes her as feisty and stubborn – traits that helped carry her through her long and difficult treatment.

On November 2, Chloe rang the bell to signify that she’s finished with cancer. This was something Noah would never miss. While his duty will force him to return to the base quickly, Noah drove up from Savannah to celebrate with his baby. Together they gave cancer the boot – Army style!

On Veteran’s Day, CURE would like to thank Noah and all those who serve and have served.

Thumbs Up for Bernie

On a camping road trip with her three children, Jenny Jobson began feeling sick. By the time they arrived at their destination in Texas, she had identified the source of her illness and had quite a surprise for her husband.

“At some point, I realized my sickness was actually pregnancy,” she said. “We thought our family was complete since my then-youngest was ten years old. But God has the best sense of humor. Bernadette came along and turned out to be the missing puzzle piece we didn’t know we needed.”

Bernadette became affectionately known as Bernie and was adored by her family from the start. Her siblings had all been incredibly healthy children, so when Bernie had unusual symptoms at 18 months old, Jenny felt something was seriously wrong.

“She began sweating a lot, had unusual temper tantrums, and her face was swollen,” Jenny recalled. “Then she got a bump on her finger that wouldn’t go away even with an antibiotic.”

Unexplained bruising and splotches on her face convinced Bernie’s pediatrician to send her to the emergency room for further evaluation where a blood test revealed that Bernie’s white blood cell count had skyrocketed to 300,000. A healthy person has a white blood cell count of about 4,000 – 11,000. Further testing confirmed that Bernie had acute myeloid leukemia. She received her first dose of chemotherapy that very day.

Bernie’s treatment plan consisted of four rounds of chemotherapy. Along with wiping out cancer, chemo also destroys the white blood cells that fight infection in a healthy person. That meant that each round required a hospital stay of 20-25 days so her blood cells would recover. Bernie’s four rounds of chemo lasted 150 days, 97 of which were spent in the hospital – which is grueling for anyone, especially a toddler.

“If she wanted to leave the room, she had to wear a mask,” Jenny said. “But Bernie didn’t like to wear masks. So we spent all of our time in the room with the television on.”

Bernie finally got used to wearing her mask so they could explore other areas of the hospital. In the beginning, she fought every single needle poke – and there were many. Gradually she began to handle being in the hospital better and now she thinks it is normal to go to the doctor so much. Her parents got great news after her four rounds of chemo – Bernie was in remission! She began monthly labs that consistently showed her to be cancer-free, and now she has moved to appointments every six months at the survivor’s clinic. Although Bernie is doing great, she will always have to have her heart monitored due to the toxicity of the treatment she received.

But now, Bernie is thriving. She loves ballet and other forms of dancing, art, building things, and of course, princesses. She seems to have forgotten most of the rigors of her treatment. But her parents remember.

“I will never be grateful that Bernie was sick,” Jenny said. “But I’m thankful for the life lessons and perspective that it gave me and our family.”

Jenny also recognizes the role that CURE played. She appreciated the Open Arms meals and toiletry bags provided during her long stays. She also expressed gratitude for the Tote Bag she received.

“We got the CURE tote bag two hours after her diagnosis,” she explained. “At first I was a little resentful because it meant that Bernie really did have cancer. But that bag became my constant companion to all our appointments. The tips from other parents were very helpful, and I used the journal to track everything related to her treatment.”

Childhood Cancer Books for Teens & Kids

Reading about children with cancer or about cancer itself can sometimes make it less scary for young children. There are some great book titles that you can share with children of all ages. The following is a list of resources, most of which should be available on Amazon.com or your favorite bookseller.

Miss Fannie’s Hat by Jan Karon

H is for Hair Fairy by Kim Martin

When Someone You Love has Cancer by Alaric Lewis

Taking Cancer to School by Cynthia henry and Kim Gosselin

Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings by Ellen McVicker

The Lemonade Club by Patricia Polacco

The Sibling Story Project by Allison Fine

Why Charlie Brown, Why? By Charles Schulz

The Amazing Hannah by Amy Klett

Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand by Liz and Jay Scott

*What About Me?  When Brothers and Sisters Get Sick by Allan Peterkin

Henry and the White Wolf by Tyler Karu and Tim Karu

Kathy’s Hats by Trudy Krisher

You and Leukemia by Baker

When Billy went Bald by Julie C Morse and Greg Mikrut

The Famous Hat by Kate Gaynor

How Do You Care for a Very Sick Bear?  By Vanessa Bayer

Cancer Party!  By Sara Olsher

Chemo to The Rescue by Mary Brent and Caitlin Knutsson

Chemo, Craziness, and Comfort: My Book about Childhood Cancer by Nancy Keene and Trevor Romain

Oliver’s Story: For Sibs of Kids with Cancer by Michael Dodd

Do I have to go to the Hospital? By Pat Thomas

Cuddle Bear by Claire Freedman

The Hare Who Lost Her Hair by Amy Leonard

Books about coping with loss

What’s Heaven by Maria Shriver

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst

And Still They Bloom: A Family’s Journey of Loss and Healing by Amy Rovere

 

Kyla Bands

When faced with weeks of quarantine earlier this year, people dealt with the time at home in all different ways. Some people read books, binged television series, or figured out how to work out at home to stay in shape. Others complained that they were too close to their refrigerator 24 hours a day. Some people dove into their hobbies. One 8-year-old girl in New Jersey spent her time learning something useful.

That girl’s name is Kyla, and when faced with hours at home, she decided to learn a new craft. Kyla had been given a finger loom kit, which has a tool used to weave colorful rubber bands into decorative items. So she learned how to make bracelets out of the rubber bands.

“She made them all day long,” said her mother, Shannon. “We thought she would get bored with it, but she kept on going until they piled up!”

Once Kyla had accumulated inventory, she came up with a plan. Kyla is no stranger to childhood cancer. She has a friend who lost her cousin to neuroblastoma, and she also met a girl at camp who had cancer one year and came back as a survivor the next. Kyla’s heart was touched by both children, and she wanted to do something.

“I want to help kids so they don’t have to get sick anymore,” Kyla declared to her parents one day.
With this in mind, she started calling her bracelets Kylabands and worked with her parents to sell them and donate all of the proceeds to CURE. She started selling them to friends online and the first day made $600! Sales trailed off a little after that day, but Kyla is thinking of new ways to market her bands.

“She may make kits that kids can use to create their own bands,” explained Shannon. “She is also considering making mask chains so that kids can wear their facemasks around their necks and won’t lose them or have to set them down on their desks at school.”

Each shipment of a Kylaband includes a note from Kyla:

Thank you for supporting CURE Childhood Cancer. Let’s band together to help fight pediatric cancer.

Kyla is in the third grade, and her school has recently returned to in-person classes. While this cuts into her Kylaband production time, she is happy to be getting back to normal. She told her mother that she feels like she is making a difference.

We can assure you, Kyla… you’re making a huge difference!

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