Cancer Kids First
By: Arya Kumar
Founded in December of 2019 by highschool teen Olivia Zhang, Cancer Kids First has a team of over 120 volunteers determined to assist and bring joy to younger cancer patients and their families. The organization has allied itself with more than 15 hospitals including INOVA and the John Hopkins Children's Center along with several corporate sponsorships with Pizza Hut and Robeks to distribute over 670 toys and over 400 cards to patients not only in the US, but also on an international scale. Events aimed to assist children in the Philippines and England expresses and reinforces the organization’s commitment to spread joy and hope to cancer victims all over the world.
Olivia’s spark for the organization came from her own experiences with cancer. When her grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, the treatment was a big cost for her family and she set out to bring that cost down in any way she could by selling crafts, drawings, bookmarks, and jewelry. When one of her favorite teachers was also afflicted with cancer, she took things a step further and set up social media accounts to spread her business and do anything she could do to help the people she loved. Though she lost both her teacher and her grandfather, Olivia continued to work hard and raise money and bring joy to those with cancer. In a recent article, Olivia says that “Cancer Kids First allows me to honor not only my grandfather and my teacher, but all those who have passed because of cancer, and all those lives cancer has touched.” Living with such a life threatening disease every day, sometimes it can be hard to keep fighting, but Cancer Kids First and all of their volunteers aim to send cards, toys, joy, and most importantly hope to prove to those kids that they aren’t alone, “inspire patients to keep fighting, and spark some joy within their lives.”
Jinglin Jingan, a sophomore and director of the art department of Cancer Kids First, explains that “Olivia’s determination and passion for this cause inspired her to not only not take anything for granted, but also see what she can do too.” She really enjoys her involvement in Cancer Kids First and loves seeing the kids after receiving her hard work. Jinglin emphasizes that “It’s never too early to start serving your community.” No matter how old or young you are, there are always opportunities, big or small, for you to brighten someone’s day or alleviate some of their burdens. Take those opportunities, because it feels great to bring a smile to someone’s face.