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Hudson seniors seek ways to support children with cancer

Pictured (from left to right): Jenny Maier, Thomas Dodge, Haley Smith, Andrew Kendhammer and McKenna Miller. Photo courtesy of Andrew Kendhammer

Submitted by Haley Smith, Andrew Kendhammer and McKenna Miller.

As spring approaches, Hudson High School senior students who are enrolled in the school's academy programs are finishing their required capstone projects.

Senior students in the HealthCare or STEM+ Academies spend a portion of their final year developing a capstone project that incorporates what they have learned throughout their academy coursework to identify a problem and develops a solution.

Students apply their sophomore year and have the opportunity to participate in job shadows, a mentorship program, field experiences and college visits. The academies teach collaboration, communication and problem-solving skills which the students will need for their capstone project.

Andrew Kendhammer, McKenna Miller and Haley Smith are seniors enrolled in the HealthCare and STEM+ Academies. Their capstone project focused on finding ways for community members to support local children with cancer. Through their research, the academy students found that most donations are spent on cancer research or go to adult care.

According to the National Pediatric Foundation, "Only 4 percent of federal government cancer research funding goes to study pediatric cancer."

It is up to the community to help families in need. Many families spend hours driving to weekly treatments, spending a substantial amount of money on gas. This, with the cost of cancer treatment, and often therapy, immensely impacts these families.

The reality is that local kids and their families need more support. In an attempt to solve this problem, the capstone group came up with ways to inform Hudson students about pediatric cancer, its lack of funding and ways to help.

The first step was helping students from Rivercrest and Houlton elementary schools make hundreds of Valentine's Day cards. This was to teach kids what kinds of charity and random acts of kindness they could do even at a young age. Then, Andrew, McKenna and Haley coordinated a supply drive for high schoolers to participate in. The supplies included toys, superhero costumes, books, art supplies and gift cards.

This capstone group collected over $100 in gift cards for gas and food and hundreds of dollars worth of toys. The supplies were delivered to the kids who get their treatment from Cancer Center of Western Wisconsin.

CCWW is an organization with several locations around western Wisconsin, including Hudson Hospital. They are currently treating eight children in Hudson alone. This organization is not only local but also strongly focuses on pediatric care. Local organizations like CCWW need more support from the community in order to better pediatric research and care facilities.

CCWW is appreciative and in need of supplies. Andrew, McKenna and Haley's group hopes to inspire high school students to be more aware of the impact they can make on these children's lives, and hopefully inspire community members.

Community members can continue to help impact these children lives by supporting CCWW. The director of CCWW explained to these students that "When a child is diagnosed with cancer, parents or caregivers may miss work or face financial obstacles when their child is receiving treatment."

In response to this, the CCWW has developed the "Little Blessings" fund which distributes Visa gift cards to patients and their family members to be used for personal needs or family activities. We accept monetary donations that can be directed to our Little Blessings fund, or gas and grocery gift cards as well.

Ticket donations for family outings are also appreciated in the way of allowing children to enjoy time away from the hospital and clinic. Lastly, blankets are always an appreciated donation, as they provide comfort to children during their journey of treatment.

There are many pediatric organizations in need of donations and always have a link on their websites available with steps on how to help.