CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — September marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and a West Virginia non-profit is doing its part to bring awareness, while also providing a support system for kids and their families.
The WV KIDS Cancer Crusaders was established to help create awareness, advocate, and provide cancer kids and their families in the Mountain State with financial support and resources needed along their journeys.
For President and co-founder Kelly Wymer, it’s personal.
“I am a mom of a cancer survivor. Ally was diagnosed at age 7 and she is now 22 — and I’m still emotional about it,” explained Wymer. “But she is doing amazing and she’s a huge advocate for the kids.”
That’s why Wymer and Doug and Marisa Skaff co-founded the non-profit. On Tuesday, the kicked off Childhood Cancer Awareness Month with a virtual fundraiser called the “Go Gold Virtual Walk & Run.”
“I have family doing it from out of state,” said Marisa Skaff. “The nice thing about it being virtual is we encourage people to take pictures and post them to Facebook to show their support.”
The fundraiser is all month long and costs $25. Those interested can sign up on-line. The non-profit is also selling masks. All of the proceeds from both the masks and the virtual race go directly to the non-profit.
The walk is specifically four miles long to highlight a discrepancy in research funding, according to the non-profit, as only 4 % of the National Cancer Institute’s research budget is dedicated to childhood cancer.
“They believe that childhood cancer is rare. And on the contrary its not. But our numbers in West Virginia are actually going up,” added Wymer.
Its estimated that in 2018, more than 15,000 children were diagnosed with cancer in the United States. George Washington High School graduate Nick Spence was one of the kids.
“Your whole world changes,” recalled Spence.
But Nick Spence is a fighter. He is now a freshman at Marshall University and has adjusted to college life just fine. But he says he wouldn’t have gotten to that point, without a good support system.
“Good people, good food, and a good attitude. Take it day by day, that’s what helped me in my battle,” Spence said.