Did you know that more than 10,000 children are diagnosed with cancer every year in the United States? The nonprofit Have a Heart Children’s Cancer Society strives to make a positive difference for these children. The charity was formed in 2000 for the sole purpose of improving the quality of life for kids with cancer and their families. The organization is dedicated to collaborating with hospitals, medical centers and other nonprofit organizations to locate families experiencing financial hardship due to this debilitating disease. Once identified, families are assisted with medical bills, curative treatments, equipment, transportation and household expenses, such as utility bills, rent, insurance, and car and mortgage payments.

When a child is diagnosed with cancer, the family’s life is put into a downward tailspin. A child’s treatment plan is typically from one to five years in duration, involving many hospital stays and clinic visits. During the treatment period, one parent generally needs to be with the child for moral support and to serve as a spokesperson for the child. It becomes a full-time responsibility and may result in one parent losing a job or having to resign due to the demands necessary to help the child. Loss of income adds additional stress on the family. This is where Have a Heart Children’s Cancer Society steps in with support.

The nonprofit’s funds are raised through school benefits, company donations and fundraisers, private donations and the Have a Heart Car and Boat Donation Program. The organization also welcomes new fundraiser suggestions. Some ideas in the works are a bowling fundraiser and a Zumba fundraiser.

Many families have been helped throughout the years by Have a Heart Children’s Cancer Society, but one family stands out in my mind. Around one Christmas, I became aware of a little boy who was being treated for brain tumors at a local Long Island hospital. I made the appropriate phone calls to gather as much information as possible about his situation. After speaking with the social worker at the hospital, I had a much better picture of what was needed: a ton of support.

Dad had lost his job because he had taken too much time off to bring his son to the hospital for treatments. Mom only worked part time and didn’t want to lose her position. I called News 12, which agreed to cover this community-oriented story and aid the struggling yet united family. Have a Heart and the news team met at the family’s home on the day before Christmas Eve. We brought a check to help with the payment of the family’s overdue mortgage and a basket filled with toys. When the News 12 coverage aired, it brought further awareness to this family and its need for assistance. Additional local charities pitched in to help as Have a Heart continued to offer support, even ensuring that the family had heat on bitter winter days.

Have a Heart Children’s Cancer Society is constantly working to help such children and families in need and welcomes support from Long Islanders like you in order to continue to make a positive impact in the wake of an ugly disease.

To learn about opportunities to give to Have a Heart Children’s Cancer Society, visit haveaheartcharity.org, where you’ll see some of the children that the organization is currently helping.

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