Coz kids get cancer too.
September 10, 2009 was a big day for me. For those of you who read about Swim2Bestival this will come as no surprise, for those that are yet to read it, please do. On that sunny Thursday morning eleven rubber-clad strangers and I nervously congregated in an empty car park at Stokes Bay, Gosport. Not the usual start to my daily routine I can assure you!
Shortly after midday we set off, one by one, on a gruelling 3.5mile swim across the busy Solent to Ryde on the Isle of Wight.
WHY? To help raise money for three amazing yet relatively unknown charities: Imbala, helps to educate underprivileged children in South Africa; St. Catherine’s, a national charity working with children and young people with speech, language and communication disabilities and; Christopher’s Smile, a charity that aims to fund the development of new drugs to help fight childhood cancers.
Of the three charities it was Christopher’s Smile that hit home for me, personally and on a number of levels. I will never forget the first time I saw the charity’s logo. Lulled into a false sense of security by the cute kid’s illustration of a smiling face on that bright blue balloon, I was shocked to the core and had to double take when I read their tag line “Coz kids get cancer too” for fear of having misread it. “What? Kids don’t get cancer… Do they?”
However, it was the devastating story behind the charity that really opened my eyes. Christopher’s Smile was set up in October 2008 by Karen and Kevin Capel following the tragic death of their only son Christopher from medulloblastoma, an aggressive childhood brain tumour, just days before his 6th birthday.
Prior to Swim2Bestival I was totally ignorant to childhood cancer. Now, spending time with Karen and Keven, I am beginning to realise the sheer scale and severity of the problem.
Childhood Cancer: Some Facts
- 200,000 children worldwide are diagnosed with cancer each year.
- One in four children do not survive their illness.
- The survival rate for some childhood cancers has not changed since the 1970’s.
- Even when cancer treatment is successful, the side effects can be devastating; second cancers • infertility • severe learning difficulties • permanent sensory impairment • growth abnormalities • cosmetic deformity in later life.
I’m sure that if more people understood the magnitude of the problem more would be done about it. The sad fact is, however, that globally pharmaceutical companies prefer to channel their efforts towards areas with higher mortality rates which is where the larger markets are.
Worse still, hazard a guess at what areas they might be? Yep, that’s right… areas associated with lifestyle choices (made consciously by adults) such as excess drinking, smoking and poor diet.
Karen and Kevin believe that the problem is largely due to a common misconception, one that the USA is light-years ahead of us here in Blighty. Sadly this is not true.
Perhaps most galling for them is that some of the largest fundraising vehicles do not make grants for paediatric medical research projects despite their well publicised support for children’s causes.
In what has been their first year fundraising, as a registered charity and against the odds, Karen and Kevin have raised a staggering £80,000 to date. Their efforts have already funded a researcher at The Institute of Cancer Research but their plans don’t end there!
Supporting UK research centres such as The Institute of Cancer Research, Christopher’s Smileaims to raise money to fund the development of new drugs to treat medulloblastoma and other childhood cancers without devastating side effects. These drugs will not only provide an effective cure but also potentially save the lives of 25% of children who currently would not survive their disease.
We’re proud to announce that The Neon Hive has pledged its ongoing support for the charity and, over the coming months, our team will be working closely with the Karen and Kevin to devise and implement an effective online marketing strategy and support in numerous other areas of their daily operations. If you would like to get involved, you would be warmly welcomed!
How can you help?
There are lots of ways you can help, please visit the Christopher’s Smile website to learn more about fundraising or donations. Please join us in this mission.
Oh, and that smiley little face… we later discovered that it was drawn by Christopher himself – a poignant reminder of just how real a problem childhood cancer is.