Kallie’s Krusade is preparing to raise awareness about cancer among children through several events in the area starting in September.
Tara Swan, Kallie Swan’s mother, said the issue is incredibly important and there needs to be more information and awareness among the public.
Kallie’s Krusade gives money to local families struggling with childhood cancer and organizes fundraisers for charity every year. The Krusade started shortly after Swan’s daughter, 21-month-old Kallie Swan, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Kallie passed away in May 2015 and since then Swan has dedicated herself to spreading awareness and helping other families dealing with childhood cancer.
To date, the nonprofit has donated more than $207,325 to families, organizations and hospitals since 2013.
“September is the month when children are made aware of cancer,” Swan said. “So with that, Kallie’s Krusade has really tried to make an effort to raise awareness about childhood cancer. There are quite a few alarming statistics about childhood cancer, in terms of funding. One thing I had read – and I find this completely absurd – is that inmates get more money for their dental care than children for childhood cancer. It’s troubling for me as a parent, especially since I’ve lost a child to cancer.”
Swan said they were in survival mode during her daughter’s battle with leukemia and were not focusing on the stats at the time. However, since learning of the alarming statistics, Swan said she is driven to bring the little-known facts of childhood cancer to the fore.
“When I hear these statistics, I am very disturbing right now. Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death in children,” she said. “Only four new drugs have been approved by the FDA to specifically treat childhood cancer in the past 20 years.”
Swan said Kallie’s Krusade will be holding several events in the coming month, including a proclamation ceremony at Tracy Plaza in Jamestown City Hall on Sept. 1 from 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM. She said the event is more focused on raising awareness than fundraising. However, Kallie Gear will be available at the event.
“What we will do is get the mayor to agree to raise the flag and announce it as a childhood cancer awareness month,” she said. “The mayor has been great. He even said he had an advocacy day whether it was Zoom or going to Albany. He explained that we would make arrangements with the representatives in Albany, and depending on how many people we could raise, we could put a family or parent or someone in contact with a representative and then start talking to others. We could just spread our word and mission as far as we try to do.”
Swan said several representatives in the region have been invited to attend the proclamation event in hopes they would help raise awareness of childhood cancer, including County Executive PJ Wendel, U.S. Representative Tom Reed and State Senator George Borrello.
On September 3, a “Fri-yay” event will be held at Southern Tier Distilling Company.
“Every month they do the first Friday they invite nonprofits to bar, and the profit made that day goes to the (organization),” Swan said. “They started a few years ago and this might be our second or third time barting there.”
Swan said the annual Labor Day event is still going on, but will be held at the Bemus Point Golf Club and Taphouse from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will feature all of the favorite events from past years, including the Motorcycle Kruse for Kallie at 9:30 a.m., Kolors for Kallie 5K at 10:30 a.m., Kallie’s Karnival, the Korn Hole Tournament, and food and entertainment throughout the day.
“We’re inviting ConnectLife, formerly known as Units, and it’s a blood mobile they bring to collect blood that stays here in Western New York,” she said. “So, for example, if a family knows a pediatric cancer patient or a Roswell patient, they can specifically request that that blood be donated to them.”
Swan said the event will also support Alex’s Lemonade Stand and Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. The organization is still looking for a live band for the event.
On September 18, the organization will host Kallie’s Krusade Kickball Tournament in Allen Park.
“That’s usually a lot of fun,” Swan said. “We have already entered eight teams, but the more the better. We’re going to eat, and of course our Kallie Gear table, we’re doing 50/50 and DJ Payne coming over comes mediating there. It’s fun – sometimes the kids participate too, but for the adults it’s especially fun for adults, because when can you kickball as an adult?”
Swan said she would love it if the entire area was involved in raising funds and raising awareness for childhood cancer. She is deeply grateful for Sundquist’s interest in the awareness kick-off.
“I’ve always envisioned and would love to see the whole area ‘go gold,’ one day,” she said. “I feel we are making slow progress, especially with the mayor’s support this year. If we can make some waves in our small area, maybe we can get to Albany as far as we get some legislation and really call for more funding. We haven’t made enough progress in childhood cancer yet.”
Gold is the preferred childhood cancer awareness color, which, according to Swan, is why one of the colors of Kallie’s Krusade is gold. Orange, the other color associated with the nonprofit, is the leukemia awareness color.
Swan said the events are outdoors and may include social distancing. She added that there are alternative accommodations if COVID-19 becomes a factor.
For more information about the events, to volunteer or to donate, visit KalliesKrusade.org or follow them on Facebook.
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