Organizations To Donate To During Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
Whether childhood cancer has touched your own life or that of someone you know, or the thought of a young child undergoing chemotherapy and radiation makes you want to open your wallet, there are many organizations committed to supporting cancer patients and their families. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and it's an optimal time to give back. Be it research funding, parent support programs, or toy donations, there are remarkable nonprofits making a difference in the lives of children diagnosed with the disease, and this list of causes to support during Childhood Cancer Awareness month is a great place to start.
These nonprofit organizations help alleviate a variety of challenges for families dealing with a child diagnosed with cancer — which remains the second leading cause of death in children under the age of 14, according to the American Cancer Society. From kid-centric camps that can give a kid a few days of medical-free fun, to charities that help house families dealing with mounting hotel stays, to festivals that make helping kids with cancer a community event, these organizations serve everyone in the family, even siblings who have worries of their own when a brother or sister faces a cancer diagnosis. Whether you want to put your money toward finding a cure or making a child’s wish come true, there’s something for everyone’s philanthropic heart.
1. Ronald McDonald House Charities
When Eagles player Fred Hill and his wife Fran learned their daughter had leukemia in 1974, they realized that dozens of families like themselves had to make costly long-distances trips for treatment. They decided to do something about it and teamed up with area businesses, including McDonald's to make a "home-away-from-home" for families. McDonald's helped them restore a house near the hospital which they named the Ronald McDonald House.
Today the charity is an independent nonprofit, but the fast food chain continues to support the organization which now has 375 homes around the world. In general, Ronald McDonald House programs offer rooms for families of pediatric patients 21 years old and younger and families stay at either no cost or a donation of $25 a day depending on the location. In most cases, families can stay for the duration of their child's treatment.
In addition to providing housing, the charity also has playrooms onsite and provides sibling support programs.
Here's a stunning statistic: About 43 children are diagnosed with cancer every day in the U.S. That's roughly 15,780 new cases each year according to the organization Go4theGoal. The nonprofit was created to honor Richard Stefanacci a 14-year-old who was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a cancer of the bones, in 2006. Stefanacci lost his fight with cancer a year later, but Go4theGoal keeps his memory alive through its work to fund research grants and assist families with the financial concerns of fighting cancer.
One of organization's biggest campaigns is "Lace Up" where kids sports teams can buy the organization's gold shoelaces and wear them to spread cancer awareness. $4 from each sale of $5 laces goes towards helping kids with cancer.
3. Camp Happy Days
Feeling like a normal kid is one of the many things cancer can steal from children. That's where Camp Happy Days comes in. The nonprofit based in South Carolina strives to kids the ultimate week of normalcy: Camp at no cost.
Since 1982 Camp Happy Days has provided children diagnosed with cancer 12 year-round programs for free. Each year 275 children, including both those battling cancer and their siblings, get to go tubing, parasailing, fishing, and even participate in a talent show at Camp Bob Cooper in Summerton, South Carolina, a camp owned and operated by Clemson University.
4. Make-A-Wish Foundation® of America
This well known organization treats critically ill children with the thrill of a wish come true. Whether it's a puppy, a video game shopping spree, or, like Alan, a little boy with a brain tumor, the dream of driving a submarine, the Make-A-Wish Foundation works to help makes these fantasies a reality.
All someone has to do to recommend a child is prove that they're between the ages of 2 ½ and 17 and that they've been diagnosed with a critical illness. So long as the child hasn't been granted a wish from any other organization, they're eligible. But it takes funding to make these wild wishes come true. The cost varies, of course, but in 2018, the nonprofit reports that the average wish was $11,161.
5. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation
Grab a hanky because this one's a tear jerker. Alex Scott was diagnosed with cancer before her first birthday. At age 4, she told her parents she wanted to start a lemonade stand to raise money for doctors so they could find a cure. And she did. With the help of her brother Patrick, Alex raised $2,000 in one day.
Sadly, Alex lost her own fight at age 8, but her mission continues. Today Alex's Lemonade Stand has raised $200 million to fund cancer research. If that's not worth a donation, we don't know what is.
But you don't have to merely donate to get involved. Alex's Lemonade Stand holding The Million Mile this month. Participants are asked to log their miles walking or running all month long while raising money to help kids with cancer. The goal is to get to 1 million miles during the month of September.
Vs. Cancer's goal is to provide any team or league with the tools to help fund lifesaving childhood cancer efforts. To that end, the organization helps teams set up fundraisers providing everything from fundraising website landing pages to social media assets like pre-written tweets and images to begin promoting their campaign. Often, in a show of support, teams then shave their heads in solidarity with children undergoing pediatric cancer chemo treatment. Money raised is given to organizations like the Ronald McDonald House and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.
7. Hogs for the Cause
You may not realize it, but one of the biggest fundraisers for children with pediatric brain cancer is a barbecue cook-off. That's right. Hogs for the Cause was started in 2008 by New Orleanians Rene Louapre and Becker Hall who were looking to put on an open-flame barbecue event. That same year they met a 4-year-old who was fighting an incurable brain cancer. Touched, the two decided to make their festival and barbecue competition into a fundraiser instead complete with live music, plenty of 'cue, and a mission to help families dealing with this devastating disease. Today 200 families have been helped and now Hogs for a Cause Festivals take place in New Orleans, Atlanta, Charleston, Nashville, and Baton Rouge.
The events are usually an two-day affairs with multi-tiered admission. But even if you can't get to one of these festivals to eat some pulled pork to help a good cause, you can still give back by either starting a campaign competition in your city or donating directly.
8. The National Children's Cancer Society
Think about this for a moment: According to the National Children's Cancer Society (NCCS), childhood cancer treatment costs average $833,000. That's why this organization works to alleviate that financial burden with its Transportation Assistance Fund that helps families with travel expenses and an Emergency Assistant Fund that gives donations of $300 in emergency situations to families who have a child that has been away from home for 15 consecutive days within a three month window.
With these critical monies, families can continue to focus on what's most important, their child. Families like the Loos featured in this tweet. When their daughter Rhyan was battling pediatric cancer, NCCS helped fly them to New York City for over four years and continues to fly the family there for follow-up exams.
Dragonfly, a nonprofit based in Chicago, was created to serve a cancer patient's entire family. To do so, they provide weekly meals, give gifts, handout care packages, adopt families, provide for urgent needs, and much more.
Essentially, they help families bring joy back in really difficult situations by giving them fun experiences (a trip to a hockey game, for instance) along with emotional and practical support so they can spend time together doing things that have nothing to do with cancer.
Since 2010, they've served 5,970 patients and families.
10. St. Jude's Children's Hospital
St. Jude's Children's Hospital's mission is "to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment." And in doing so, it provides free treatment, travel, housing, and food for every family it serves.
In addition, St. Jude works to develop new treatments and is regularly named one of the best Children's Hospitals by U.S. News.
Performer Danny Thomas founded the hospital in 1962 with the idea that “no child should die in the dawn of life." And since it's founding, it's helped push that goal forward to a survival rate that at its opening was 20% and today is more than 80%.
11. American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society has been on the front lines of the fight against cancer since 1913. Their comprehensive approach includes funding research, advocating for government policies that improve access to quality care for all children, and providing information, guidance, and support for patients and their families. Of particular importance to families is the American Cancer Society's tools and information related to clinical trials, studies that provide hope for so many suffering from cancer. But they can't do this work without funding, which is why anyone interested in supporting Childhood Cancer Awareness Month should consider giving to the ACC.