Inspiring Action Against Pediatric Cancer
Cancer has become increasingly common in our society. Although we are not under the assumption that children are immune to cancer, insufficient efforts are being made to help those who are fighting the hardest battle of their young lives. For this reason I chose not to raise awareness of pediatric cancer, but rather, to inspire action against it.
My best friend Dominic was diagnosed with leukemia when we were in elementary school. Witnessing the struggles that both Dominic and his family had to endure, I quickly learned how far-reaching the effects of a pediatric cancer diagnosis are. Dominic passed away when he was only 15. Promoting my platform allows me to have an impact upon others in the same inspirational way that Dominic had an impact on me.
I started my journey as a local titleholder in the Miss America Organization with a more specific platform, “The Make-A-Wish Foundation: Kids For Wish Kids” for which I raised over $22,000 to help grant the wishes of children with life threatening medical conditions. It was through my support of related organizations that I became educated about the more extensive needs of children with critical illnesses – specifically cancer. Of the already small amount of federal funding for cancer research, only 4% is allocated for all childhood cancers combined. Approximately 175,000 children worldwide are diagnosed each year, yet cancer treatments have not changed significantly in more than a decade. Three out of five survivors develop side effects from treatments they received because they are typically designed to fight cancer in adults. Because of my personal connection through Dominic and my acquired knowledge of these staggering statistics, expanding my platform seemed only logical.
Since becoming Miss Staten Island 2014, I have raised over $20,000 for pediatric cancer research, largely through “The H.O.P.E. Project,” a performance benefit for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. I have visited with pediatric cancer patients and their families at facilities including SI University Hospital and The Ronald McDonald House. Most importantly, I have made connections with organizations such as The Truth 365, which mobilizes millions of people through social media to take action to increase funding for pediatric cancer.
If I am given the honor to serve as Miss New York 2014, I plan to educate the public about the lack of federal funding for pediatric cancer research. My goal is to garner the political support necessary to advance policies leading to improved research, treatment, and survivorship. Until the government increases financial support, and provides the amount necessary to find new treatments and cures, it is up to us to bridge the funding gap. As Miss New York, I will continue to be an advocate for children affected by cancer, while inspiring others to take action toward positive change.