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: firstname.lastname@example.org