Their message, "Heroes come in all shapes and sizes" and these five children are certainly examples of those who believe that anyone has the power to make a positive difference in this world. Beginning this September (Childhood Cancer Awareness Month) and armed with determination, a first-hand knowledge of what it means to go through cancer and inspired by childlike faith that their efforts can and will make a difference in the lives of children battling cancer, these five kids set their course to help expand the research and bring awareness to the issue of Childhood Cancer and to help thousands of children and families along the way.
The children will be traveling the country (in between homework assignments and tests, of course) speaking to various organizations, celebrities and executives through their 20 minute presentation and speech to raise funds for childhood cancer and to create programs with those they speak to support children and families battling this disease. Four of the children are cancer survivors and help serve as advocates to the thousands of other children who are the littlest and bravest among us still fighting their own battle. Their heartwarming stories and innocent determination to make a tremendous impact seems to inspire all who hear them that they too, can make a difference in this world. Dalton Sherman, who was thrust into the national spotlight due to his "Do You Believe In Me" speech in 2008 which you may currently view on YouTube and who has opened for poet Maya Angelou, appeared on Ellen, The Today Show, shared the stage with Donald Trump and whom Oprah welcomed and named as one of the world's smartest and most talented kids is also a member of the group representing those children who are lucky to have their health, but who recognize the importance in making a difference in what currently is the #1 disease killing children.
Funds raised will support the programs of Angel 34, a leading national non-profit organization dedicated to the fight against childhood cancer and who served as a support system to four of the children during their own battles with the disease. Angel 34 was originally founded by Nicole Sheriff who at the age of 13 found herself fighting her own battle against cancer. Having witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of childhood cancer on families, the financial burden that cancer carries with it and the hopelessness that can come with the disease, Nicole was moved with the desire to start a foundation in 2003 at the age of 14. Out of compassion for every child she came across, she vowed that she could make a difference in that child's life. It was her wish that every child have their own angel during their time of need.
Since her passing at the age of 15, Nicole's parents have continued her legacy. "I see what Nicole was able to create at the age of 14 and what the organization has grown to today. As children growing up we've been told that dreams are possible and that we can do anything we set our minds to. Here is our chance to prove it to ourselves," says Matt Carey, one of the participating kids. Angel 34 is committed to bringing hope and healing to the children and families of those affected by childhood cancer and to date has distributed millions of dollars to the cause with the proud distinction that 100% of funds raised goes to support children with cancer. Visit http://www.angel34.org/ for more info.
Funds raised from their efforts will go to support various Angel 34 programs such as
Complimentary ICEE machine service to children battling cancer in numerous children's hospitals nationwide - ICEE drinks seem to be one of only a very few things children can keep down while going through chemotherapy
Pet therapy programs
Financial assistance to children and families
Free programs, activities and overnight stays for kids battling cancer and their families at the Angel Field B&B and Retreat Center
Awareness and Education
National and community advocacy programs
The message they deliver.... Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. They are in our communities, on our streets, in our companies, our offices and in our schools. They may be sung or unsung. They are children that save their allowance to give to those in need. They are volunteers that give of themselves when tragedy strikes, they are in the lives of those who reach down to bring another up. They are in anyone who sees a need and extends their heart. These five kids have chosen to make a difference in childhood cancer. How will you make a difference?
Dalton Ridge Sherman a twelve year old 7th grader in the Dallas Independent School District was thrust into the national spotlight after his 2008 "Do You Believe in Me" speech given to over 20,000 teachers and district employees about the importance of educators believing in their students. As a result, millions viewed his inspiring presentation on YouTube and he was asked to appear on Oprah, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Today Show and open for Dr. Maya Angelou. Since those appearances, this young yet inspiring young leader has shared the stage with speakers such as: Stedman Graham, Sec. of Education, Arnie Duncan and Donald Trump, with audiences ranging from 50-28,000.
Dalton is on the "A" Honor Roll and aspires to be a television anchor and after that, maybe President. He enjoys playing sports (especially basketball) and is a blue belt in karate. He's also a member of the Future Leaders Program. Dalton desires to participate in Angel 34's Kids Helping Kids Campaign representing those children who are lucky to have their health, but who recognize the importance in making a difference in what currently is the #1 disease killing children.
Matt is a warrior both on and off the court. A 17 year old junior in high school, Matt has served as starting point guard for his Varsity basketball team since his freshman year. His athletic prowess, his friendly personality and cutting sense of humor make him a natural leader. During the summer of 2009 at the end of Matt's sophomore year he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The same focus and determination he used to lead his team on the court, he now used to fight his own battle for survival. He never doubted he could beat cancer. Now classified as a cancer survivor, he hopes to help generate funds and support to help others win their fight against childhood cancer...and while he's at it, play basketball at the college level and eventually become an airline pilot.
Hello my name is Samantha, Sammi for short, and I am a cancer survivor. I am 5 now, but at just 29 months old I was told that I had leukemia. 859 days and 2,517 pills later my body has beaten this awful disease that tried to rob me of my childhood. I love to ride my bike and play at the playground. Cancer did not slow me down. Yes I may have lost all my hair, but it's back now and curlier and cuter than ever. When I go to clinic I like to help some of the younger kids that are scared of the needles by showing them they don't hurt by letting the nurses poke me and I never cry. It's sad that every time I go to clinic I see a new face, that means that another family has to go through what ours did, and now they have to learn about the world of cancer. I wish the doctors could find a way to prevent kids from ever getting cancer.
Breanna is 17 years old and is a senior in high school this year. She's a fun loving typical teenage girl who likes to go to the movies, shopping and hanging out with friends and family, and just being a socialite. In November of 2008 just before Thanksgiving vacation her life changed tremendously from being a normal teenager, living her life like any other. After a CT scan she and her family were informed there was a mass on her brain that was becoming cancerous. On December 2nd of 2008 she had major brain surgery, followed by radiation and chemo. She realized she couldn't let this bring her down, even though she still had moments of depression, she still tried to keep her head up. During her higher dosages it started to effect her legs and she had to use a walker for the longest time. After she finished treatments she had to begin physical therapy, "I was like a baby again learning how to walk and do everything else. I had to regain my strength. I'm doing good now, walking on my own again and even learned how to run again. My hair is coming in very slow because of the radiation I had to my head," she says.
"I have learned a lot from going through this. I don't take life for granted because you never know what's going to happen tomorrow. My number one quote is everything happens for a reason. So I try and learn from those reasons in order to make me a stronger person, grow into a better person and to show others that anything is possible."
Hi my name is Cheryl, I am seven years old and my little sister is a cancer survivor. Back when my sister was only 2 years old my parents told me that she had something called leukemia. They told me that she would be sick and not feeling like herself for some time and that she might even lose her hair. So I decided that I would grow my hair longer and in November of 2007 I cut it off and donated 12 inches of my hair to make a wig for my little sister for when all of her hair fell out. My sister and I are best friends, we do everything together, I helped her out on days when she didn't feel great and laid around with her on other days when it was too hard for her to get up and move.
A few months ago we have a big party for her to mark her end of treatment. My parents also gave me, "The Coolest Big Sister Trophy," it was as tall as me. My little sister is finally done with all of the chemotherapy, she's back to feeling like herself again, and has the prettiest hair now. She still has to go to visit her doctor once a month to make sure the cancer doesn't come back, but the visit doesn't take that long and she no longer has to stay in the hospital overnight so that makes us happy. I'm very happy and proud that my little sister is a cancer survivor and I want to do all I can to help other kids who have cancer too!