Students fight cancer
February 26, 2019
Student undertakes cancer work in community
Q: How did you get involved in doing cancer work?
A: The summer of freshman year, I was approached with the opportunity to do an internship at the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. There, I started writing the toolkit for families with children who had cancer.
Q: What inspired you to continue working there?
A: Well, the experience was very rewarding and it felt good to know I was making a real difference in the community. I have always felt that I’ve had the passion to help people.
Q: So how did you and Preslie both get involved in your toolkit project there?
A: Preslie and I have actually known each other for 12 years and one thing we’ve always had in common is the desire to reach out and help others. After that summer internship I did, I recommended Preslie for the position and we ended up working together on special projects for the foundation.
Q: What kind of special projects did you help with?
A: Our biggest and most challenging assignment was definitely writing the toolkit. Our goal was to provide advice and some comfort to families who have children recently diagnosed with cancer, and how to deal with this, because we knew it was a difficult time for both the family and the child.
Q: Can you tell me about the walk that you and Preslie are organizing?
A: Yes, the project we’re currently working on for the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation is a walk called “Walking Funds the Cure.” Together we are mainly focusing on obtaining radio sponsorships, locating local artists to perform and spreading the word to reach our goal of 3,000 attendees.
Q: In your opinion, why should students get more involved in their community?
A: Being part of a community means that you are obligated to contribute something, like your time volunteering or even donating to a local organization, because you never know when you might need it. We’re all part of one community, and sometimes we have to rely on the community for help ourselves, so it’s always seemed right to me to help others when they need it.
Q: What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?
A: I think if we can meet the goal that we’ve set for the walk, it will be my biggest accomplishment. Overall though, I’m really proud of how much of an impact I’ve made on people’s lives, and after writing the toolkit and interning at the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, I can see that what we’ve been working on has really made a difference, so I guess that would be my biggest accomplishment.
Q: What was the most challenging part?
A: Like I said before, I think writing the toolkit was the most challenging project Preslie and I have taken on, because it was one of the first big things we did at the foundation. You really need to understand what people are going through because they’re going through such a tough time, and you never know how much your actions or words can have an impact on them.
Q: What are your expectations for the future in terms of staying involved with cancer work?
A: Right now, Preslie and I are trying to bring what we’ve learned during our internships to Plant. We’re starting a club called HOSA, Health Occupations Students of America.
Q: What’s your goal in starting this club?
A: First of all, we hope that this gets students at Plant inspired to get more involved in cancer work or whatever they’re passionate about in the community. I think kids will take away from this that maybe they want to reach out in the community and volunteer in a way they wouldn’t have thought of before. But also, I think a reason we’re starting this club is to raise some awareness about cancer and the opportunities to volunteer and help out, like Preslie and I have been doing with the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation.
Daughter of cancer survivor does cancer work in community
Q: How did you get inspired to start doing cancer work?
My mom had breast cancer when I was in ninth grade, which is what inspired me to get into the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation.
Q: So, you said that your mom having breast cancer kind of inspired you. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?
A: My mom was really sick my ninth grade year, and at that point in time watching my mom go through it was really hard, but I couldn’t imagine a mother having to watch their child go through that, so I wanted to become active in the pediatric cancer community.
Q: So, I’ve heard that you were doing an internship. Can you tell me about that?
A: It’s the internship at the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. I started it my sophomore year, but my friend Trey started it his freshman year.
Q: How did you find out about the internship at the foundation?
A: It so happened that my friend and now co-worker Trey Carlson, who is also a junior, was doing an internship the year before at the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. He knew that I was passionate about cancer research and cancer work, and he invited me to join him. This past summer I did the internship and we both finished writing a toolkit that he started. Now, we’re working on the walk together.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit more about that?
A: I did the internship with Trey writing a toolkit for families whose children were just diagnosed with pediatric cancer, and we pretty much just put together a toolkit for anything they could need-featuring advice, what to do when you first get a diagnosis.
Q: What else did the internship include?
A: Upcoming in the end of March, on March 30, we both spearheaded a walk for the organization, which is called “Walking Funds the Cure”, and there’s two different distances. There is a 5k and then a shorter distance.
Q: How did you get started organizing this event?
A: So, I started with the idea, and I shot it to Trey, and we both thought it was a really great way to bring awareness and emailed our boss, who’s the CEO of the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation.
Q: How were you involved in the process?
A: Well, we messaged back and forth with our boss and a few of the event coordinators, and they said they had actually been beginning to formulate a walk for the foundation, so we were put on the board to start it. We can’t take full credit, because they were formulating it as well at the same time.
Q: What’s the goal of the event?
A: Together, we’re trying to bring other high schools around Tampa to make teams and to join the walk, and we’re trying to get sponsors through sports teams and musicians and local bands.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit more about it?
A: It’s for the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation and it is also at Raymond James. The theme is what you want to be when you grow up, so we encourage everyone to come dressed as what they wanted to be when they were younger, and all the kids are going to come. Plant students can get service hours for going.
Q: So, I’ve also heard that you’re a member of the youth league. Can you tell me about that?
A: I’m a member of this organization called Mayor’s Youth Corps, and it is a service organization run through the mayor’s office.
Q: What kinds of things do you do in the program?
A: There are projects throughout the year and you have to complete them in order to graduate from the program. We do anything from going to homeless shelters and food banks and feeding the homeless to going to leadership sessions, learning how to be a better public speaker or being a better leader in the community, as well as meeting with the mayor and bringing him the problems that we, as youth, face in Tampa.
Q: Where do you hope to take your cancer work in the future?
A: I’m thinking about being a pediatric oncologist, which is a cancer doctor for kids, or working for the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation in the future.
Q: What have you taken away from being involved in these experiences?
A: I have taken away that intern work with cancer and kids with cancer is probably one of the most fulfilling things ever and it has shown me what I’m passionate about and what I want to do. I really, really like volunteering with cancer work, and as I said, I can see myself doing some with it in the future.
Q: Why do you think it’s important for students to get involved in their community like this?
A: You have to give back to the community that helped you out, because you never know when you’re going to need the services. Right now, we’re at a point in our lives where we can give our resources, putting it into helping out in the community, which we live in and it will only benefit us. But, you never know in the future if, God forbid, something bad happens, then you can know, going in peace, that you’ve helped other people and in the future that may help you back.
Q: What do you hope that other people will take away from participating in the walk?
A: So that people can support kids in our community who are going through a really, really tough time and kind of create a community feeling that we’re all here for each other. It’s also so that people can see what the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation is about and maybe start giving their time or donations to the foundation. I just want to give the kids a fun time while uniting the whole community.
Q: What’s the most challenging thing you’ve had to do so far?
A: The most challenging thing was probably when Trey and I were writing the toolkit. Realizing that our work, although we were proud that it was published and that it was going to help families, it was going to people who were going through something as hard as this. It was knowing that some of these kids are going through the hardest thing they ever will in their lives, and there’s no cure yet, but putting our time and efforts into it, we can help.
Q: What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?
A: Probably seeing my mom healthy, because throughout that time it was really hard, and I supported my mom and tried to help out as much as I could. I don’t know if that’s a personal accomplishment, but it was just after going through months and months of really hard chemo and stuff, just seeing my mom get better after supporting her for a while.
Q: What do you feel makes the effort you put into it worth it?
A: For sure helping the families that need it, and also giving the kids something to look forward to in terms of the walk and other stuff. For the toolkit and when I did the internship over the summer, definitely helping families made it worth it. Some days we were at the office for hours not really doing much, but there were some times when Trey and I would look at each other and know that we were making a difference and helping people out.
Q: In the future, what other events or activities do you hope to get involved in?
A: I hope to continue interning with the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation and hopefully unite more schools in participating in the walk next year. I also hope to keep doing special projects with the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, and also, I’m trying to open a club at Plant called HOSA, which stands for Health Occupations Students of America, with Trey. It’s a club for kids who seek future industry in the medical field, so we would be able to connect kids with people from NPCF and Moffitt and TGH. We hope to get that passed. I definitely plan on working with the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation.