Category Archives: Making A Difference

Topplers Seeking Teens With A BIG Idea For Making A Positive Impact on the World

Making a Difference Program to Help Teens With Cancer Set BIG Things In MotionSmiling cancer girl using laptop

Dakota is a high school student who likes spending time outdoors, skiing, and competitive ballroom dancing – she also has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). While undergoing treatment for her cancer, she’s found a way to give back to all those people who have helped her and her family along the way. Dakota shared her BIG idea with Topplers and is inspiring people from around the country to commit random acts of kindness.

“Going through leukemia has taught me that no matter what, things can always be worse, but that there’s always a silver lining,” she explains. “One of the biggest silver linings I’ve found is finding support from everyone around me. I thought if everyone could just have a small glimpse of this kind of support in their own lives it would motivate them to do good and pass it on to others. This is important to me because I think it will be very therapeutic — not only for me, but also for the people that surround me in my everyday life.”

The idea started in 2012, when Donna, a Pediatric Oncology Nurse, noticed that her young patients were spending long stretches of time at the hospital during their treatments and recovery time. The nature of the treatments leaves them confined to their beds and weakens their immune systems, so they don’t get to leave the hospital. She started thinking about how these patients could pass the time, focusing their energy in a positive way, while staying connected to their friends and communities.

“Working as a Pediatric Oncology Nurse for many years has made me realize a need that has been overlooked. The patients I’ve had the pleasure to work with possess such strong spirits and sense of the world around them. Whether it’s the diagnosis that creates this awareness, their personalities, or other life circumstances, I can’t say. One thing I’ve seen over and over again is the strong desire to give back to the community and/or others facing the same situation. Parents and families return to the hospital with cookies for the staff, homemade pillow cases, or hats for the newly bald children,” she recalls. “All of these gestures are greatly appreciated, but lack the longevity that many patients desire. The Making A Difference Program allows children and their families to give back and to stay connected in a way that is far reaching. It gives them the opportunity to stay in touch with their social circles, while at the same time offering a network of support to others, reaching a much broader audience.”

Topplers is seeking more teens being treated for cancer, who have a BIG idea they want to share. “Whether they are passionate about the environment, education, or poverty, Topplers has a community of action-takers ready to help move these young people’s BIG ideas forward,” says Topplers Executive Director, Storey Blackwell. “It has been such a pleasure to work with Dakota and to see the amazing support the Topplers community has brought to her idea, that we want to bring this opportunity to more teens with cancer.”

Teens or their family members can submit their ideas here to Topplers. Anyone interested in taking small, measurable actions to bring these BIG ideas to life can join the Topplers community here. To see a video and learn more about the Making A Difference program, visit makingadifference.topplers.org

For more information or if you have questions, feel free to contact Storey Blackwell, Executive Director: storey@topplers.org

 

Posted in Making A Difference.

The Travels of Domino #3453

1452370_10151749580242267_1931349199_nWatching a Domino travel as it inspires person after person to do a Random Act of Kindness, is amazing as it is fun. Inspired by Dakota I sent Domino #3453 out into the world and love seeing the updates. I passed along this domino to a friend, telling her how Dakota’s story had inspired me to take action. My friend, in turn, passed along the domino with Dakota’s story to her friend.  Reading about the travels of the domino, show how Dakota’s story is inspiring others to help her reach her goal of 100 Random Acts of Kindness. Here’s hoping that domino keeps up the momentum:

&lquo; I received the Domino from my coworker who shared the details and story =) Upon receiving it, I invited our neighbor (who recently experienced a difficult breakup) to mass and coffee with my wife and me on a Sunday morning. We talked about the experience and it seemed to be good timing to help lift his spirits!
&lquo; My dear friend, Ashley, gave me Dakota’s domino and explained the program while we were on a beautiful summer hike at Hessey Trailhead. I was really touched and of course wanted to be a part of things. I am so sorry it has taken me so long! I brought the domino and card with me to work last week, thinking it would be a good inspiration to do something on one of my breaks. Today, I was out for a stroll on the 16th street mall. I saw a Denver Voice vendor open the door for a gentleman in a wheelchair leaving a store. I thought this was very sweet and polite of him, so in return for his good deed I bought a paper from him 🙂
&lquo; It was a surprise treat when I received this domino from Storey. We were catching up, sharing what we’re passionate about in our lives and giving each other encouragement for our endeavors. So, when Storey handed me the ” domino” I was excited to share the spirit of random acts of kindness. I thought about what I’d do for some time and then one day In an ” act in the moment” I was reminded of the domino – and of Dakota. I saw a car trying to pull out of the gas station. I waved him on and we had this great exchange of smiles and waves like we were old friends; a nice reminder that we don’t need to be strangers on the road.
&lquo; I’m excited to be part of Dakota’s Random Acts of Kindness. For this domino I stopped to let a car cross the highway after watching for 5 minutes up the traffic jam that no one was letting them through.
Posted in Making A Difference, Topplers News.

More Random Acts of Kindness Inspired by Dakota

Dakota’s story has been spreading! Be sure to check out the Topplers webpage for updates on the Random Acts of Kindness that Dakota has been inspiring. Here are a few more highlights that we’ve seen:

In Denver, campbece just claimed domino 3453.

&lquo; My dear friend, Ashley, gave me Dakota’s domino and explained the program while we were on a beautiful summer hike at Hessey Trailhead. I was really touched and of course wanted to be a part of things. I am so sorry it has taken me so long! I brought the domino and card with me to work last week, thinking it would be a good inspiration to do something on one of my breaks. Today, I was out for a stroll on the 16th street mall. I saw a Denver Voice vendor open the door for a gentleman in a wheelchair leaving a store. I thought this was very sweet and polite of him, so in return for his good deed I bought a paper from him 🙂

In Henderson, Leanne just claimed domino 3377.

&lquo; I received this Domino from Victoria, an amazing friend and someone who knew how much I would love this type of project. I know a young woman who was moving out of her shared apartment to live with her younger sister. Her former roommate had owned most of the household items. She had a bit of furniture but no kitchen items. Her plan was to use her student discount at Goodwill and slowly get what she needed. I texted her one day telling her to meet me at Wal Mart and not to ask any questions. When she arrived, I set her up with a shopping cart and told her to go pick out her new kitchen. She started crying right there in the isle. She was thrilled, as was I to see her so happy and thankful of the gesture. Random acts of kindness warm my heart and soul. Thank you Dakota for inspiring others.

In Louisville, herb  just claimed domino 3449.

&lquo; I’ve been waiting for a moment of inspiration to add a random act to Dakotas branch. I started carrying the domino in my pocket in hopes that it would remind me that all it takes is a quick simple decision to make an impact. Today it wasn’t much: I gave $10 to a guy holding a sign at an intersection. But he definitely appreciated that it wasn’t simply $1. And my daughter got to enjoy the moment with me. More to come but it feels great to be helping Dakota see her big idea becoming a reality.
Posted in Making A Difference, Topplers News.

How will Topplers support young cancer patients?

As Topplers and our supporters started looking at how we might be able to use Topplers to help support young cancer patients during their treatment and recovery, we kept thinking about Alex’s Lemonade Stand.http://www.alexslemonade.org Alex was a 4-year old cancer patient who opened a lemonade stand to raise money for other kids with cancer. Her inspirational story led to a flood of donations, and the creation of a foundation in her name.

Like Alex, many young patients are looking for a way to help give back to the people and communities that have supported them and their families through their treatment and recovery process. But being confined to a hospital room can make connecting difficult.

With the help of the staff who work with the children and their families, Topplers will be launching a pilot program in early 2013. Patients who participate will start by selecting their own big idea and by telling us their story and why this cause is important to them.  We will then add their branch to the Topplers website and community page, and provide dominoes that the patient will hand out to family, friends and supporters.  Topplers will help promote the new branch, provide support, guidance and tips to ensure that every patient is successful in achieving their goal.

We believe this program will make a big difference in the lives of kids, and their families, who face some really serious challenges.  We think the program can be a valuable therapeutic tool, helping patients stay connected with people outside the hospital, giving them a chance to direct their aspirations and goals in a creative way.

Posted in Making A Difference, Topplers News.

The Birth of a New Branch

Making a Difference teen

Making a Difference is the newest Topplers Branch. In the works since early 2012, we’re excited to let you know what we’ve been doing to get this Branch up and running. But first, how we got started…
Donna, a pediatric oncology nurse, noticed that her young patients were spending long stretches of time at the hospital during their treatments and recovery time. The nature of the treatments, leaves them confined to their beds and weakens their immune systems, so they don’t get to leave the hospital. She started thinking about how these patients could pass the time, focusing their energy in a positive way, while staying connected to their friends and communities.

A cancer diagnosis is, as you can imagine, overwhelming for a young person and their family. the first weeks and months are spent processing loads of information from their caregivers and communications from foundations and nonprofits that want to support them through the treatment process. They are supported by their doctors, nurses, hospital psychologists, volunteers, entertainers visiting the hospital, family, and friends. And as the initial shock of the diagnosis wears off, and their new lives in treatment become routine, many are looking for a way to give back to those that are helping them out.

Helping others while confined to a hospital is difficult, but the modern technology that helps us stay connected offers up great possibilities. Topplers’ Making a Difference program will be providing the tools and the support to help these extraordinary young people to take their big ideas, launch them, and help them grow.

Stay tuned for how we plan to do this.

Posted in Making A Difference, Topplers News.