Making A Difference


Supporting Young People with Cancer

Making A Difference is a Topplers Branch inspired by a pediatric cancer nurse who saw the desire to give back in her patients undergoing treatment. While undergoing treatment, these young people and their families receive a tremendous amount of support, and many of the patients are eager to return that kindness to the world.

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.

Female patient sowing cheerful ok hand signA 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 provides the tools and the support to help these extraordinary young people to take their big ideas, launch them, and help them grow. Join us as we make the first steps in making Donna’s idea into a reality.

 Meet Donna

Donna“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. 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.”

How To Get Started

If you are a adolescent with cancer and want to share your BIG idea with the Topplers community, get started by completing the form below or by contacting

If you are a community member looking to help these BIG ideas become a reality, check out how you can take action today on a Topplers Branch or complete the form below.

If you are interested in supporting Topplers, our branches, and community members work, learn more about becoming a sponsor or complete the form below.

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    Dakota“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. ” – Dakota, Making A Difference participant

    “Hi, Dakota! This is a great idea! I saw an elderly lady walking home along a busy highway Saturday. I was able to give her a ride to her destination. Praying for strength and courage for you!” 
 – Bob S., Joplin, MO

    “I have family dealing with cancer. Went up to visit them and saw how stressed they were with basic day-to-day life stuff. Like weeding the front garden. So I found some gloves, got a bag and cleared out the weeds. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it was one less reminder of the things that they see that was adding stress to their already stressful lives. Take time to find a small way to help someone. The task can be small, but the gesture GIANT.” -George A., Superior, CO