A Q&A with 'Support the Kid' Cofounder

WEGO Health was able to have a Q&A with Jasmine, the co-founder of the cancer organization Support the Kid. Jasmine founded the organization with her brother Nick, who passed away from cancer. Follow Support the Kid on Twitter @supportthekid and connect with them on Facebook.

How did your brother Nick first start Support the Kid?

My brother had been originally diagnosed with cancer in 2005 at the age of 22, but he had to be treated in the children cancer ward for over a year because the type of cancer he had was a childhood cancer, Synovial Sarcoma.  We had spent alot of time at Cohens Children Hospital with the kids and their families and saw first hand the struggles these families were going through.

During that time, we had met a little 4 yr old girl named Delaney at the hospital who didnt speak English and was taken into foster care because of neglect.  We collected toys at the school my mother was a teacher at during Christmas time and brought them to her foster home.  She was so overjoyed to see all the presents, especially the Dora the Explorer toys.  That was really the first child we helped and it was such a blessing.

My brother went into remission after that for almost 5 yrs, but he would go back to the hospital during the holidays and bring presents and visit.

In April 2010,  Nick began our journey and mission, already having been diagnosed with cancer for the second time and two days after an extremely invasive surgery to remove a tumor in his chest. That was the thing about Nick, even when things were bad he always saw the good. Instead of worrying about himself Nick turned his prayers outward and got Support The Kid recognized as a 501c3 non-profit organization. Although at this point Nick had always been known as our superhero he had only begun writing his own legacy.

When/How did you get involved?

I got involved almost immediately after my brother had the idea to do it.  We spent alot of time in the hospital while he was getting treatment, setting up the facebook and working on a logo initially.  It was really a passion project, something very positive to focus on during a difficult treatment.

How did his illness and passing change you and your family?

It was a very difficult loss for my family and myself.  My brother was a influential, inspiring  and tremendously strong person, that I really never really believed that cancer would take him.  I think overall it made us stronger and we are very close now.  It was hard to imagine continuing Support the Kid without my brother, but it was also very healing to meet these children and their families and be able to help them.

What is Nick’s legacy to the cancer community?

I think Nick’s legacy would be to never give up, never accept no for an answer, do your own research, and try and live everyday to the fullest.  My brother really believed in new types of treatment.  He was told no one would operate on him, and he found a doctor on his own at Sloan Kettering who did.  He was told he had no options and he tried clinical trials, and homeopathic treatments.  You really have to be your own advocate, whether you are the parent of the patient of the cancer patient, you really need to listen to all of your options, and do your research and educate yourself.

Tell us about Rudy and Teddy?

My brother and his fiance Danielle got Rudy about 4 months before he passed away.  He is an adorable french bulldog, who brought my brother alot of comfort and joy during a time when he needed it most.  He also brought Danielle a lot of comfort after my brother passed, and continues to do so.  I fell so in love with Rudy, that after my brother passed I got his little brother Teddy.  I think dogs have the ability to comfort, like no other, especially through illness and also in the grieving process.

How many people contribute to STK – work within it?

We have alot of volunteers throughout the country who help with different events and who help to promote our cause.  We have been blessed with some very generous and enthusiastic supporters.  Our board consists now of 4 individuals, myself in New York, the Director of Development, Dina DeCaro our Educational Director in San Diego, CA, Mario DeCaro and Michael DeCaro our Executive Director in Northern California.  Then I have group who helps me in New York to plan and adminstrate everything we do, Danielle Tutino, our Social Media Director, Alissandra Tutino our Director of Media Operations, Pamela Ghents our Volunteer Coordinator, and my parents Peter and Ana Wolber who help with special events.  We also have a Kara Hoover our Director of Activities in Texas who handles our events and donations in the Dallas Texas area and Joy Willoughby who is our new donations coordinator in Houston, Texas.

What is one thing you would like more people to be aware of, when it comes to dealing with a cancer diagnosis?

Cancer can be such a scare word.  I remember my initial response was fear when my brother was diagnosed.  But I really think there is so many new innovations, treatments, trials now that you really have to be strong for yourself and your family and just try and fight everyday.  I always tell people, that you just have to take it one day at a time, some days are good and some days are very bad.  I really encourage people to look at their option, find options, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Cancer can be overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.  That is what Support the Kid tries to do, is to at least provide some support, whether it be emotionally or financially.

I know you’re in NY, where else can people reach STK members?

We have core groups working out of Dallas Texas, the San Diego CA area, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco area.  We also have been participating in the Burton US Open in Vail Colorado for the past two years, and we are working on setting up a volunteer group in the Boston area.  We also try our best to be very active on our social media, so we can be reached on our website www.supportthekid.org, our Facebook, instagram, twitter, and we also have a Youtube page.

Besides Nick, who is one patient you have met where you felt like STK made a real difference, share with us the experience of helping another?

We met a little girl Tiffany Vargas from California.  We donated to her back in October of 2011, they had hit some very hard times financially and had lost their home.  We continued to stay in contact with her family.  She would come to our events, and she also would help the kids in the hospital.  She even introduced us to other families going through treatment.  Her mother ended up being diagnosed with cancer and passing away from cancer herself.  She is such a young beautiful girl who has been through so much, but she continues to give.  She recently participated in the Temecula CA fourth of July Parade where she rode in a Support the Kid decorated convertible car, where we celebrated her as a cancer survivor.  She is really an inspiration to me to keep going on when things seem tough.

You were just nominated for a Health Activist Hero Award by your friend and supporter Katie, how did that make you feel?

Its such an honor, I really just feel like Support the Kid was something I was meant to do.  Its such a blessing on my life to be helping such beautiful and deserving people, that its very strange when people thank you, let alone want to honor you with an award,

Is there anything you have coming up that you would like to invite people to?

We are working on some exciting events for Spring and summer, which will be updated on our website and Facebook, but we are gearing up right now for the Burton US open this March in Vail, where we will have a tent.  We will also have our annual March Madness contest on Facebook, so check that out to win some cool items!

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