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For The Kids

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September 12, 2014
By TIFFANY REPECKI ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

About one quarter of the children under 21 diagnosed with cancer every year do not survive.

An estimated 15,780 children are diagnosed annually in the United States, according to the American Childhood Cancer Association. September is observed as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Sean Hoover, president of the For The Kids Foundation, explained that the designated month helps bring awareness to the issue facing youth and helps raise funding for childhood cancer research.

He noted that survival rates are on the rise among youth who have been diagnosed.

"There are a lot of kids that deal with cancer - a lot more than people think - and they're right here in our own community," Hoover said. "Bringing awareness to that has had a helping hand."

At 2 years old, Hoover's son was diagnosed with leukemia. Several months before the diagnosis, the boy suffered from fevers, upset stomaches and bruises that would easily appear and not go away.

"That has a lot to do with the way early leukemia and cancer affects your blood and blood count," he said, adding that their pediatrician actually did not identify the problem. "He was sick for months."

Once the diagnosis was made, Hoover's son underwent three years of chemotherapy.

"Getting that early diagnosis is so important," he said.

Hoover explained that his son lost his hair and experienced mood swings from the steroids.

"We had to keep all sick people away from him," he said, noting that his son had to wear a mask in public when his blood count was too low. "There's a lot of psychology involved, as well."

The family had weekly trips to the hospital, with the boy sometimes staying for days.

"Initially, it's just shock. You can't believe it," Hoover said. "It's life changing, not only for our son."

In March, his son was declared cured after being cancer-free five years post-treatment.

"While going through this journey, we obviously spent a lot of time at the clinic and hospital," he said.

While Hoover credited the Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida for the care they provided to his son and others, he and his wife noticed a need and decided to step up to the plate. For example, a child would want a child's adhesive bandage, but they only had plain adult ones.

"Kids are kids, and they still want to be kids," Hoover said, noting that the hospital just did not have the funding allocated for certain supplies. "What we decided is we need to fill these gaps in."

For seven years now, the For The Kids Foundation has helped collect children's adhesive bandages, children's pajamas, toys and more for the hospital through donation drives and other events.

"We buy pajamas for the kids, so they don't have to wear those hospital gowns," he said. "We provide all that stuff, and we support the child life specialists. Anything they need, we get them."

This could include video games, CDs or iTunes gift cards for the children.

"They like to say, they're paid to play with the kids," Hoover said.

For about the past five years, the For The Kids Foundation has also hosted the Spring Bling.

"One of the unfortunate things about cancer is not every kid is going to make it," he said. "A lot of these kids may not make it to their senior program."

The annual event essentially serves as a prom, with music, activities, food and drinks.

The foundation also delivers Christmas presents to the children at the hospital.

"When we do stuff like that that's our time, especially my wife's and I, to connect with the parents," Hoover said. "Through our giving and the stuff that we do, we get to connect with other families."

The For The Kids Foundation is wholly volunteer-based; there are no paid positions.

"That keeps out overhead low, so it goes to the hospital," he said.

The foundation accepts donations of cash or items to go toward the cause. Needed items can include toys and games for the treasure chest, children's adhesive bandages, children's pajamas and more.

"We'll take any kind of donation," Hoover said.

For more information, call (239) 541-0461 or visit online at:

"Of course, we're always looking for volunteers too," he said.



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