Student organization helps cancer patients

Nonprofit encourages youth cancer patients


Posing For Donos – Founder Olivia Zhang (right) and club officer Thais Rolly display their Kumon donation event gatherings. These donations consisting of toys, books, and games were shipped to the Cincinnati Children Hospital. (Photo courtesy of Xiaowei Zheng)

Makda Bekele

Dear Cancer,
Did you know that you scar the lives of about 43 children every day? Did you know that out of every 8 children diagnosed, one dies? Sophomore Olivia Zhang knew. Which is why she founded the organization Cancer Kids First (CFK), aimed to uplift those children you’ve targeted.

Cancer Kids First is a certified national nonprofit working towards providing kids at cancer hospitals with a chance at a normal childhood.
“When my grandfather and elementary school teacher passed away from cancer, I realized so many people all over the world live in fear of losing their loved ones that way, as well,” Zhang said. “Starting CKF was just a way for me to honor my loved ones, but also help other families.”
And help she did. After coding a website, and getting fellow officers to join the cause, Zhang was able to legally construct a nonprofit organization. Cancer Kids First has grown in size, and popularity, all over the U.S.
“As more people spread our messages and our ideas, people from other states started reaching out to me, specifically. That was really cool because as they told me how they wanted to help support our organization, my connections grew, too,” Zhang said.
As CKF has grown, their accomplishments have as well. Their website demonstrates how they’ve been helping kids, provides background information, and even operates a HOPE page featuring stories of cancer survivors they have interacted with.
Students all over Mclean have become more active in community service as well, which coincides with the ever growing volunteers Cancer Kids has accumulated.
“They do really good work, the organization,” sophomore volunteer Miranda Simpson said. “And it feels amazing to know you are doing something good for the community.”
There are many ways to become a part of this community. As CKF partners with many charities and companies, the organization frequently hosts donation drives. The website specifies that as a FCPS citizen, you have the ability to spread awareness, help set up donation programs, and anything you may think is beneficial.
“I was inspired to join the Cancer Kids First board because I wanted to help support young people who are making an effort to help the community,” board member Xiaowei Zheng said. “All I want is to use my position to help ease the struggles of kids with cancer.”
Even with her personal responsibilities as a mom and worker, Zheng is able to manage her time on the board, stating that, “it’s definitely worth the time.”
Cancer Kids First, from its beginnings in December 2019, has raised more than $2,000 in donations, delivered 587 books and toys to patients, and interacted with 17 different hospitals. And although Covid has prevented them from visiting patients and delivering gifts to the kids directly, their newly developed coloring activities and educating books have been being sent via Amazon. “
I think we’re making a really positive impact, even just as volunteers,” Simpson said. She, like many others, have emphasized the positive environment they’ve been exposed to, as well.
“I urge everyone to join Cancer Kids First. If you get the chance to make an impact on the world, especially at this age, why not take it,” Zheng said. “Help the less fortunate-make this world a better place!”