September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among U.S. children ages 1 to 14, according to the National Cancer Institute. The institute says that the cause of most childhood cancers is unknown. This month and throughout the year, from bake sales to bike races, there are plenty of ways to help raise money for pediatric cancer research and get your kids involved in public service:
Get cooking. A new cookbook is out this month: "Cookies for Kids' Cancer Best Bake Sale Cookbook" (Wiley, 2011), by Gretchen Holt-Witt. She founded the Cookies for Kids' Cancer Foundation with her husband in 2008 after their son Liam was stricken with neuroblastoma, a type of solid tumor cancer in children.
Inspired by "Prince Liam the Brave," who lost his cancer battle early this year, Holt-Witt developed the foundation to raise money for pediatric cancer research through the concept of local bake sales.
As Holt-Witt says, "Every effort counts, and every dollar counts."
Cookies for Kids' Cancer volunteers in Richmond, Va., Charlotte, N.C., and several other cities are holding baking blitzes and cookie sales in September. For more information on how to get involved, go to www.cookiesforkidscancer.org.
Try a duathlon. Ken and Robbie Howiler of Davidson, N.C., got their daughter Marnie's cancer diagnosis during her first week of kindergarten. After a treatment protocol of chemotherapy, surgery to remove her right kidney and radiation, Marnie is cancer-free and in second grade.
After seeing what the Howilers call "the devastation this disease wreaks on the children and their families," the parents started the Marnie Jude Foundation to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer research.
"We want to help reach the day when all children are cured of cancer," Robbie Howiler says.
The foundation hosted the first Miles for Marnie duathlon at a high school in Cornelius, N.C., last spring, for all ages and levels of competition. The parents and organizers have already started working toward the second run-bike-run event next spring. Go to www.marniejudefoundation.org for more information.
Purchase some artwork. The CureSearch Walk honors those whose lives have been affected by children's cancer, while raising money for children's cancer research. This year, more than 20,000 people will participate in 50 events across the nation.
CureSearch also has a fundraising outlet through its Young Artists Program. Young artists donate works of art to the foundation, some of which are then used on gift items or in public awareness materials. Anyone who was diagnosed with or treated for children's cancer can participate (no matter their current age), as can their siblings. For more information, go to www.curesearch.org.
Wish someone a happy birthday. Among fundraisers tied to art and music, the American Cancer Society has a "more birthdays" campaign that includes gift-wrapping paper and prints for sale. Or send a "Happy Birthday" music video to a friend and make a donation to the cancer society. Go to morebirthdays.com/act.
Host a lemonade stand. This can be an easy way for children to help other kids who are battling cancer. Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, a registered charity, emerged from a stand started by cancer patient Alexandra "Alex" Scott when she was 4. She died of cancer in 2004 at the age of 8, having raised more than $1 million for pediatric cancer research.
Alex's parents started the foundation the following year, and now kids across the country can host their own lemonade stands, car washes or nearly any type of event and donate the proceeds to the foundation.
Supporters may post messages to their Facebook or Twitter pages or text "Lemonade" to 85944 to make a $10 donation. Visit www.alexslemonade.org/get--involved.