Stories of Optimism

Supporting Kids with Cancer…Bead by Bead
July 15, 2013

Children with cancer often possess remarkable bravery in the face of adversity. The Optimist Club of Essex is proud to be a part of recognizing that bravery and putting smiles on the faces of these courageous children.

As a fundraiser, the Club has hosted dances for students in grades 5-8 for the last several years. The dances attract almost 300 youth every second Friday of the month.  The participating youth decided that once a year the proceeds would be donated to the Bravery Bead Program and because June is Childhood Cancer Awareness month, that was the dance selected.  The June event has become known as the “Kids Kicking Cancer” dance.

What is the Bravery Bead Program? The Southwestern Ontario District has adopted a wonderful project which serves to “bring out the best in kids” who are battling cancer and other life-threatening diseases.  Each year the District commits to raise $26,200 for the Bravery Bead Program at Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre.

The program gives youth the opportunity to explore ways of coping with their illness and helps the children better understand their health care journey. Beads are not given as a reward, but rather represent each child’s individual journey through treatment.

At diagnosis, children receive a “starter necklace” which includes a string, beads to spell their name and their very first bead from the Optimist Club.  Children then collect beads to recognize the many experiences they face during their treatment, whether it’s a clinical visit, surgery, bone marrow transplant, stem cell harvesting or just having a good day. In total, there are 33 different beads in the program.

Every necklace is unique, as every child and their treatment are different. The Bravery Bead Program helps validate the many challenges children and youth overcome during the course of treatment.

With a grant awarded by the Optimist Childhood Cancer Campaign, $1,500 was donated to the Bravery Bead Program by the Optimist Club of Essex.   Plans are being made for the “Kids Kicking Cancer” dance this coming June. Both the Members and participating youth are anxious to promote this worthy cause and raise even more money!



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