Belson, an emergency room physician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, established Kids Against Childhood Cancer, or KACC, in 2010 as a vehicle for the girls and their friends to raise money for the Aflac Cancer Center at the pediatrics entity.
Two years later, the group has not only expanded its membership — 14 girls ages 8 to 12 — it has three fundraisers that have netted several thousand dollars under its belt.
“I wanted them to learn about children’s cancer, to set an example in regards to helping others in need,” said Belson of his daughters. “I also wanted them to learn how to work as a team … and the basic tools related to how to run an organization.”
The girls’ most recent charitable outing, Stone Mountain Cancer Climb, took place in mid-April.
Each member of the group sought pledges from relatives, friends and the community to sponsor them in their respective scaling of the mountain. All 14 made it to the top, 10 of them accomplishing the feat twice.
Current KACC President Brittany Andrieni hopes for more of the same during her tenure.
“I’d like for us to have more fundraisers so we’ll be able to give more money,” said Brittany, 12. “It’s just a really good feeling, doing something for kids who are less fortunate and not as privileged as you.”
Those funds are certainly being put to good use, hospital officials said.
“We’re making a difference because we’re making kids [with cancer] happy and entertained,” said Anna Belson, 9.
The Aflac Cancer Center keeps a wish list of desired items that can be donated to make patients and families more comfortable while they are there.
KACC has decided to use the money from their fundraisers to purchase TVs and laptops to give more patients the opportunity to watch a movie while getting chemo or be able to play computer games in their room.
“I think KACC’s impact is huge and these young ladies are such an inspiration,” said Jessica Houston, program coordinator for the Aflac Center. “Seeing groups of kids helping other kids is truly wonderful to witness. Groups like KACC continue to impress me with their generosity and the example they set for others.”
Group members’ responsibilities — with adult oversight — run the gamut of nonprofit operations. Moreover, they are acquiring organizational, planning and financial skill sets that belie their youth as they conduct meetings, manage the KACC bank account and elect officers.
Brooke Belson, 12, served as the organization’s first president.
“I love doing this with my friends and family,” said Brooke. “They have definitely had a big impact on inspiring me to do something so great…I’ve learned what kids with cancer are going through and what we’re doing is buying them entertainment to distract them [in a good way].”
All of the girls involved with the campaign hail from DeKalb County, particularly the Toco Hills and Stone Mountain areas.
As for the future of the charitable endeavor, the elder Belson has expressed his desire to see the girls run KACC by themselves as they get older.
Jenna Goodman, the acting secretary for the group, offered a sobering assessment of its plans in the interim.
“I think it’s really important that more people know about KACC, because that would mean more people [getting involved] in the fight against cancer and finding a cure,” said Jenna, 10.