496 words for my favorite charity

In the first ever philanthropic effort I have seen sponsored by my company, in honor of National Medical Transcriptionist Week this week (bet you never knew there was such a thing, eh?), an essay contest of 500 words or less is being held with a reward given of $100 to a favorite charity.  So here is my effort below.  Regardless of the contest winner, I told them I applaud any philanthropic effort, no matter how small as I think this speaks more loudly about people within organizations than anything a business can do.

~ ~ ~

My favorite charity is the  Ben Towne Foundation.

Why?  36 reasons.  Each day 36 people under age 20 are diagnosed with cancer in the United States and pediatric cancer remains the #1 disease killer of children in America.  Because the numbers are small, there are few federal dollars and pharmaceutical dollars targeting children’s cancers.  Children’s bodies require different treatment than adults, so research specific to their needs is crucial in making further strides for the 15% of most devastating pediatric cancer diagnoses.  The Ben Towne Foundation is doing cutting edge work in pediatric cancer treatment, and is named after a little boy whose parents want to leave a legacy on his behalf for a cure.  I did not personally know Ben Towne, but I knew other children like him and watched them and their families go through years of barbaric treatment (approached in the most humane way possible) to hospice care by age 7 or 17 or 20.

My connection to this cause is visceral and life-changing because my daughter was one of the 36 at the end of 2004.  Just before her 4th birthday, she presented with a tumor around her heart, which turned out to be non-Hodgkin lymphoma.  I watched her endure 2 years of chemotherapy and complications.  She is a strong, healthy survivor now 5 years out from treatment.

Some parents of survivors thank their lucky stars and never want to look back.  Instead, I have spent the past 5 years committed to the memories of all the children I met who did not survive and donating my time, since I have little money as a single parent, to organizations that try to make further progress in alleviating the suffering, length of treatments, and emotional devastation left in the wake of pediatric cancer.

I am a First Connection Volunteer for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society that provides phone support for parents with new diagnosis of a child to parents who have come out the other side.  I was asked to volunteer on a Family Advisory Board to Seattle Children’s Hospital, on which I served for 3 years.  I have volunteered with Relay for Life (American Cancer Society).  Probably the highlight of my life was being asked in 2005 to write a 5-minute speech and give it in front of 600 people (my first public speaking experience ever) for the Seattle Ronald McDonald House Charity annual auction.  Immediately after my speech, the equivalent of 10 years of my personal income was donated to the RMH!

The Ben Towne Foundation is different than any of the above organizations because they contribute 100% of their donation dollars to pediatric cancer research.

I had no idea until this week that my daughter’s story I wrote in 2006 is highlighted at the bottom of the Seattle Children’s Hospital Oncology webpage:  Seattle Children’s Cancer Program

Now you know why I am so committed and thrilled to be continually learning and transcribing the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital account.

In gratitude,


About Erin W

A sensitive plant, bamboo strong.
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