Take the handstand challenge for Childhood Cancer Awareness month
Do a handstand and share for Childhood Cancer Awareness month
Swifty Foundation, a pediatric brain cancer research foundation, and its initiative, Gift from a Child are challenging people to participate via social media in the "Give a Hand Take a Stand" handstand campaign running through September, which is Childhood Cancer Awareness month, and beyond.
The purpose of the #Handstands4Cures campaign is to kickoff Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and to bring attention to the devastating lack of progress in treating childhood cancer, despite cancer being the leading cause of death by disease in children.
The Des Plaines-based Edward and Wanda Jordan Family Foundation supports the Foundation in its awareness efforts. Too, Lacey Argus and Steffan Argus challenge everyone to do handstands to make September Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
For ideas on what to post, please visit giftfromachild.org/give-a-hand-take-a-stand/.
"The Edward and Wanda Jordan Family Foundation also has financially supported the Swifty Foundation for more than four years, said Des Plaines resident Rosemary Argus, president of the Jordan Family Foundation. "So we challenge supporters to stand on their hands in September. They can post their efforts on the Facebook page and Instagram page this September."
Creating Give a Hand Take a Stand, and more specifically, a handstand challenge, was something Swifty Foundation and GFAC wanted to do for several reasons. A handstand symbolizes the 15,780 families' lives that are turned upside down by their child's cancer diagnosis every year. Additionally, this diagnosis robs children of their childhood and their strength to do childish activities like handstands.
Swifty Foundation's founder, Michael Gustafson, experienced this firsthand. Before his diagnosis at age 10 of recurrent medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer, Gustafson never lost a handstand competition at one of his gymnastics meets.
Pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children, yet research on the disease is greatly underfunded in the U.S. Only four pennies of every federal dollar available for cancer research is used to fund pediatric cancer research. Raising awareness on the issues surrounding pediatric cancer research and changing its landscape are the goals of the Swifty Foundation, and efforts like the Give a Hand Take a Stand Campaign increase this awareness in an interactive and personal way.
The Swifty Foundation was founded by Michael Gustafson and his parents, Patti and Al Gustafson, before he passed away at age 15, from recurrent medulloblastoma. Michael is described by his dad as being an "affectionate tough guy with a great sense of humor." His toughness was evident in his athletic endeavors, but even more apparent in how he handled his cancer treatments. Michael went through intensive chemotherapy throughout fifth-grade and through it all only missed eight days of school.
Nearing his 15th birthday, Michael knew he wasn't going to survive his brain cancer, but he wanted other kids with cancer to have a different outcome. He wanted to give up his life and donate his post-mortem tissue to help find a cure. He called it his "master plan." This "master plan" has guided the Swifty Foundation's mission ever since. Swifty Foundation's three main priorities are increasing post-mortem brain tissue donations, creating more collaboration in the field of childhood cancer research and raising the survival rate of recurrent medulloblastoma in children.
In December 2018, Swifty Foundation launched a new initiative called Gift from a Child which is a program focused on empowering pediatric brain cancer research through post-mortem tissue donations. The initiative brings families who have lost children to brain cancer, private foundations, researchers and medical professionals all together to advocate for and educate families on the importance of post-mortem tissue donation. Two ways they have done this through a tissue navigator program and a family companion program.
The tissue navigator program is part of GFAC's partnerships with several hospitals and institutions across the country headed by four centers of excellence. These centers of excellence currently include Anne & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Children's National Health System in Washington, D.C., and Stanford University. Each of these centers have designated a person to be a tissue navigator. Tissue navigators are trained to assist families through the donation process and help coordinate all aspects of the donation.
The companion program is run by families who have lost children to brain cancer and donated their children's post-mortem tissue. The program will match a family who is considering donating their child's tissue with a family who has already gone through the donation process. By creating these one on one relationships, families will have an opportunity to ask personal questions regarding their decision to donate and will be offered support and empathy during an extremely difficult time.
Swifty Foundation and GFAC chose to focus on brain cancer because it is the most common and most deadly form of pediatric cancer.