A New Group of Advocates

alicia bunny
For the past 11 years I have worked with a core group of dedicated volunteers on my pet project The Honeysuckle Foundation for Children with Cancer http://www.honeysucklefoundation.org. While initially formed due to Alicia’s wish to help other kids by my than 7-year-old cancer warrior, Honeysuckle has persevered. We have outlasted many things that should have sidelined us. We are still here and still helping.

A new chapter in Honeysuckle history is beginning and for that I am extremely grateful. Alicia and her new group of friends at University of Florida Innovation Academy are about to embark on a new adventure. With the help of longtime friend and soon to be academic advisor Maureen, this new group of pediatric cancer advocates will soon be meeting, planning, and working on fundraising to help. They will learn first hand how to educate and inspire others as well.

Pediatric cancer is one of the most unrecognized and unsupported cancers. Kids with cancer are not a demographic that is very marketable to businesses and companies. There are more ‘attractive’ causes with more marketing reach then kids with cancer and that is where support and dollars go. With this new group of volunteers the hope and eventual goal is to change that. Make ‘gold’ the new ‘pink’. Have September be recognized as the month for Pediatric Cancer Awareness and let the world know that kids get cancer too!

Thank you to University of Florida and the Innovation Academy!

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About Me

My cause is childhood cancer, what’s yours?

I am crazy about a cause.  Unlike others who like to be involved and ‘give back’ because they feel it is the right thing to do, I have a personal stake in my cause.  In fact, I founded my cause eight years ago when my then 7-year-old inspired me.  My cause is childhood cancer and the Honeysuckle Foundation For Children with Cancer (www.honeysucklefoundation.org).  I believe childhood cancer is one of the most unrecognized and under funded causes around.  The people who start children’s cancer charities are parents like myself who do it as a testament to our children’s survival or those parents who tragically have lost a child.  We ask our family, friends and neighbors to help and people rally around us.  The charity takes off like a bolt of lightning filled with lots of volunteers and interest in what we do.  Time however, kills our momentum and one by one our small charities die.  We cannot compete with large-scale charities that have paid staffs, offices and celebrity endorsements.  We work out of our homes, do our ‘volunteer’ work in the middle of the night and are the secretary, marketing person and chief cook and bottle washer all rolled into one.  I know others who have founded pediatric cancer charities and the road we all travel is the same.  We work to help kids with cancer today with the social and emotional aspect, trying to make life a little easier and bring some comfort and happiness into their lives.  Tons of money is raised and then spent on research and I wonder for all those dollars how many patients battling cancer today are actually benefitting from that?  One day I hope that the obstacles faced by small charities today will be easier to handle.  I hope that pediatric cancer is obliterated from the face of the earth and therefore there is no need for childhood cancer charities.  In the meantime however, I  believe that it is the charities like the Honeysuckle Foundation who actually make a difference in the life of a child fighting for his or her life this moment and because of that, I will not stop fighting the uphill battle for survival.

Wear our heart on your sleeve

I am constantly thinking of ways to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer.  Living with me is sometimes like living in a marketing ‘think tank’ as I am always looking for the novel idea that will take root and spread like wildfire across this country.  It may just be a pipe dream, but I will continually try.  Each and everyday I want people to recognize some of the hard facts about pediatric cancer such as; September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, pediatric cancer is the number one cause of non-accidental death of children in this country and each day 46 kids are diagnosed with this insidious disease.  The problem is, unless you know someone personally touched by this disease, most people don’t give it much thought.  Once it has made a presence in your life however, life as you once knew it will never be the same.  So I am starting a new campaign called Wear our heart on your sleeve geared to the kids of this country, but definitely for anyone who dares to wear a temporary tattoo proclaiming you are supporting kids with cancer.  At $1 a piece this is a small-scale project that teachers, coaches and community leaders can do with kids, but impact it can have could be monumental. 

I have gotten some great response to my initial requests for people interested  and will keep everyone posted.  I want everyone to know about pediatric cancer and rally around this cause since none of us know if pediatric cancer might come knocking at our own door.  If it should heaven forbid, wouldn’t it be great to have the whole world behind you in support?

5k/10k Honey Run

I want to host a fundraiser for the Honeysuckle Foundation for Children with Cancer (www.honeysucklefoundation.org) in September one in South Carolina and one on Long Island.   I already know the month since it is national childhood cancer awareness month, a little known fact in this country, but I am not sure how to get started.  I have a lot of experience running other fundraisers, golf outings, cocktail parties and school sponsored events, but I am clueless  on how to host a run.  I have an incredible volunteer, as are all my volunteers, who is not only involved with Honeysuckle, but she is the driving force for a run.  She is a runner!  It was her idea and it is her enthusiasm that tells me we can get this done so I have faith in her convictions and will immerse myself in getting this thing done.  I am very lucky to have people who step up whenever the call is made to work hard, devote countless hours for an event that raises money for us to provide things to families battling cancer.  I need help however, as we enter an arena we have never been in before.

The economic downturn has hurt charities just like everything else.  Every dollar raised now has even more meaning and impact as the usual sources of funding and donations have dried up.  I have a belief however, that no matter what the circumstances people  still want and will  do anything they can to help.  If I didn’t believe that I would have closed up shop a long time ago.  I know that what we do makes a difference, and while we are not a huge powerhouse not for profit with staff and real estate to manage, our work does make a difference as does the countless small-scale charities throughout the country.  So the Honeysuckle Foundation is looking for help, ideas, donations and guidance as we embark upon our next big fundraiser a 5k/10k run.  We will research, organize, ask, implore and shout out loud in order to get this event executed.  We have faith and hope that we can raise not only funds but awareness to the plight of kids battling cancer and hopefully one day get the national support and attention so desperately needed for the future of our country, our children!


New Year’s Resolution

2010 is almost over and a new year about to begin.  I am ready to take the Christmas decorations down and get life back into some order.  After a busy two weeks with my family around to celebrate all that is good in our lives, they have left and I need to get back to normal, whatever that may be.   As we  get ready to ring in the New Year the thought of a resolution is in many people’s minds, mine included.  We hear the standard lose weight, get organized or start eating better, but most of us fail.  I however will step out on a limb and make my New Year’s resolution one that is both challenging and engaging to not only myself but to others as well.  After eight years the passion that once ignited my pet project the Honeysuckle Foundation for Children with Cancer (www.honeysucklefoundation.org) is held only by a few.  When we were right off the battle field of pediatric cancer there were many supporters, volunteers and donors.  Time and life has seen them dwindle away and our core group has grown smaller and smaller.  I am very lucky to have some truly dedicated individuals who work tirelessly for our cause, but it has gotten difficult especially once the economy tanked.   I want 2011 to be the year that the Honeysuckle Foundation takes off and makes a mark in the world of pediatric cancer patients.  Like pink is to breast cancer awareness, I want to utilize social media, mainstream media and network marketing to spread the word that there are too many kids battling for their lives and they need support today.  We want to collaborate with other not for profits in helping kids throughout this country fighting this deadly disease.  This mighty feat however cannot be done by just a few.  There is strength in numbers and I will seek out and find anyone who is willing to roll up there sleeves and get the message out.  Quality of life is just as important as the number of days in the life of a child with cancer. 

I have no set plan on how to do this and I will take it one day at a time.  I will write, post and implore others to join us and hopefully along the way 2011 will be Honeysuckle Foundation’s year;  we will get the support and resources we need to help these children.  It is imperative that we achieve this goal as none of us has a crystal ball and can foresee our future, and unfortunately today and everyday 46 children and their family’s lives will change forever.  We want to be able to help them and hope that maybe you do too!

Want to help or have an idea, email me:  rene@honeysucklefoundation.org

Happy New Year!