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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Cancer, Cancer Research, Health

Mission: The mission of Arms Wide Open is to fund less toxic therapies for children with cancer so they can have a better quality of life as they battle the disease and to give families hope by bridging the funding gap and making available potentially life-saving clinical trials that would otherwise not be available. Since its inception in 2009, Arms Wide Open has funded over 50 research grants for clinical trials. Through its many programs, Arms Wide Open also helps families throughout the United States both financially and emotionally who are suffering hardship due to their child’s diagnosis of cancer, providing them with support during the most difficult time of their lives. Through their Emmy-Award winning documentaries and awareness campaign, The Truth 365, Arms Wide Open is committed to educating the general public on the truth about childhood cancer, raising awareness on a global level, uniting the childhood cancer community, starting a movement through CureFest and giving children with cancer a voice so that they will see change in their lifetime.

Results: On July 6, 2008, the lives of Dena and Billy Sherwood changed forever when their then 13-month-old son, Billy Jr., was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma, a very aggressive cancer of the sympathetic nervous system that most commonly occurs in infants and children under the age of five. After witnessing the lack of research funding, the lack of treatment options and experiencing firsthand the devastating effects of childhood cancer on an entire family, in August of 2009, in the midst of their son’s aggressive treatment, Dena and Billy founded Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation. Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation is working closely with scientists, researchers and doctors at top cancer centers throughout the United States; who are pioneers in the pediatric cancer field, who are on the forefront of bringing many alternative therapies into clinic which could prolong the lives of children diagnosed with cancer until a cure is funded. Right now there are 40,000 children being treated for childhood cancer but research funding is limited as pharmaceutical companies do not see the efforts as profitable. Recognizing that children should not be viewed as a profit, but, rather, our investment, Arms Wide Open raises money for less toxic therapies and actual treatments these children so desperately need in order to survive. The mission of Arms Wide Open is to fund less toxic therapies for children with cancer so they can have a better quality of life as they battle the disease and to give families hope by bridging the funding gap and making available potentially life-saving clinical trials that would otherwise not be available. Since its inception in 2008, Arms Wide Open has funded over 40 research grants and clinical trials. Through its many programs, Arms Wide Open also helps families throughout the United States both financially and emotionally who are suffering hardship due to their child’s diagnosis of cancer, providing them with support during the most difficult time of their lives. Through their Emmy-Award winning documentaries and awareness campaign, The Truth 365, Arms Wide Open is committed to educating the general public on the truth about childhood cancer, raising awareness on a global level, uniting the childhood cancer community, starting a national movement and giving children with cancer a voice so that they will see change in their lifetime. Through Curefest USA, held in September in Washington, D.C. annually, Arms Wide Open has begun to unite the childhood cancer community, which has resulted in the start of a National Movement!

Target demographics: children with cancer and their families

Direct beneficiaries per year: hundreds of children and their families

Geographic areas served: United States

Programs: Funding Research, Family Grants. Hope & Healing Bereavement Retreat, The Truth 365 Awareness Campaign, Curefest USA

Community Stories

15 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Kristena K.

Client Served

Rating: 5

After our daughter, Bryanna, passed from ETP-ALL, a rare and aggressive form of leukemia, we were barely treading water. We were trying to cope with the devastating hole in our hearts, life and home while still making sure that our two younger kids, Evey and Liam were okay and that they knew they mattered. Just when we felt like we were drowning, we took a chance and attended a bereavement breakfast hosted by awo. That lead to an invitation to their bereavement retreat as a family. For the first time since Bryanna died, we felt like we had a life line. The love, support and understanding that this amazing organization has offered then, and continue to offer now is amazing. When we feel like we are barely floating, they are there. Each and every time. We have found a family that understands the experiences that we have had through Bryanna's cancer diagnosis, treatment and death. The experiences are certainly unique in our own way, but the love and support that they extend leaps beyond any wall, any difference and offers unconditional, no strings attached support, love and connection. I would highly recommend this foundation to families dealing with a childhood cancer diagnosis.

Adrienne S.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Dena and her family are just amazing. My son's friend, 10 at the time, was diagnosed with cancer. Dena stopped what she was doing and reached out to the boy's mother. She put her in touch with Dr's and gave her guidance. We are forever thankful. Nick is now cancer free.

Sandy B.3

Donor

Rating: 5

Where do I begin? I have the Honor of being the Sherwood’s neighbor around the corner. The Sherwood’s are living proof of What Faith, Vallor, Dignity and Honor are all about. Truly Hero’s that took their family’s unimaginable pain and suffering and turned it into one of the most successful organizations providing not only financial funding but also genuine kindness and emotional support during family’s deepest nightmares.......I could never adequately put into words how this organization has touched my heart, and the lives of so many families..... I can only repeat my sentiments, that this is the stuff that True HEROS are made of! God Bless the Arms Wide Open Foindation.

Donna269

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Childhood cancer is the #1 disease related killer of kids in the U.S. and the incidence of childhood cancer has been steadily rising. Despite compelling statistics childhood cancer research is vastly and consistently underfunded. Arms Wide Open CCF is one of the great non-profits that steps up to try to fill the gap in lack of funding for research, for families and they work to create awareness regarding the needs of childhood cancer. Arms Wide Open not only donates money to research but helps families in tremendous ways. This organization is also at the forefront in so many ways trying to tell the story and create advocacy that will result in more funding for childhood cancer research. For the past four years Arms Wide Open has hosted CureFest in Washington DC to bring other non-profits, individuals and organizations together to give ONE VOICE to kids battling cancer. With the support of Arms Wide Open this annual event has grown from a few organizations and people to thousands. They not only talk the talk but they walk the walk and are making a huge difference in the battle to help kids and find treatments and cures to combat this insidious disease called childhood cancer. With the help of non-profits like Arms Wide Open we look forward to the day when a doctor will say, the bad news is your child has cancer, the good news is we have a cure.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Well ,First I wanna Thank the members of awoccf for personally helping my family get through extremely difficult times in dealing with childhood cancer. Second, this foundation is very near and dear to my heart not only for what they have done for my family but, also what they have strived for and accomplished in the advancements of treatments being less toxic and more effective. I will hopefully be attending more of their events and outtings in the future. Hats off to you awoccf! And thank you for everything you have done for us Dena Sherwood. The Lord is using you how he intended and it's obvious by the success of this foundation. Please keep up the phenomenal job you guys and gals are doing, when it seems like the odds are not in our favor! We need more then 4%!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Rarely, if ever, has there been a more aptly named foundation. I have worked closely with AWO and it's founder on several occasions and projects including, but not limited to, a now international grassroots "movement" to bring awareness to the travesty that is childhood cancer treatment in this country today. I have never met a more dedicated group who leave no stone unturned nor say no to ANYTHING that will help a child with cancer and their families. I stand firmly behind AWO, their mission and the selfless way with which they carry it out.
-tattootom

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation is an amazing organization!! Last year, we went to their Hope and Healing Retreat with other families that lost children to cancer. Dena and her family are incredibly kind and compassionate people. This foundation is funding so many incredible research trials for pediatric cancers. They are providing so much awareness about childhood cancer through social media. They help on every front and we thank them for all they do.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Our family has been changed by this organization and their efforts to raise awareness for the lack of funding for children with cancer. They are truly moving the dial!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation is a wholeheartedly dedicated foundation that truly cares about each and every child and their families, and work so hard in raising money to find research to help find cures and bring comfort to families affected by cancer and for families that have lost a child to cancer. Dena Sherwood has a heart of gold. My son Evan passed away from Medullomyoblastoma brain cancer 10 days after his fifth birthday, Dena and her foundation have offered a bereavement remembrance weekend to families that have lost a child. We all comfort eachother and the support is huge. This foundation is a blessing and I know they go above and beyond to help fund treatments bring awareness and give support to those in need. Thank you Arms wide open.

Traci K.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We lost our baby girl to Childhood Cancer a little over a year ago. Shortly after she passed we went to an Arms Wide Open Bereavement Retreat. We felt such love and support. They care so much about the families impacted by Childhood Cancer and do so much for people who are still fighting as well as those of us who lost our children. I truly cannot give enough praise and thanks to this foundation.

Wendy159

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I lost my 16-year-old son to leukemia last year. Always thinking of others, he told me of his wish for a cure for childhood cancer. I wasn't sure where to start but knew that my mission in life was now to fulfill my son's wish. I heard about Arms Wide Open from a friend and contacted Dena Sherwood about how I could help them raise money for pediatric cancer research.

Dena called me right away and I felt like I was talking to a long-lost friend. She helped me understand what AWOCCF does to support children and their families and how I can make a difference in memory of my son. I knew from the moment that we spoke that this amazing woman was a compassionate champion for our children. Having known her now for over a year, I am even more impressed with her commitment, leadership and desire to make childhood cancer a national priority.

I can't tell you how rewarding it is to know that the funds we raise in memory of my son are helping researchers discover new and less destructive therapies and will ultimately lead to a cure for all childhood cancers. AWOCCF lets me know exactly what research grants they are funding right down to the type of cancer, the name of the doctor and the hospital where the research is being done. Amazing!

Cancer robbed my son of his life and our family of one of the most kindhearted and loving kids ever to walk the face of this earth. AWOCCF has given me a way to channel my grief into action, honor my son's memory, and help to fulfill his wish to end childhood cancer.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation is a blessing to the Childhood Cancer Community! Dena Sherwood works tirelessly to make sure families have the support they need when they get the devastating news that their child has cancer. Having walked in their shoes, the Sherwood family is able to empathize in a very personal way.
Among the many things they do, AWO is the parent organization of The Truth 365, a social media campaign that raises awareness of the plight of children facing cancer. The Truth 365 reaches thousands of people everyday, and could not happen without the support of Arms Wide Open. Another contribution that AWO makes every year is CureFest in Washington, DC. Each September, AWO/TT365 hosts this pinnacle event within the childhood cancer community, bringing together foundations and families from all over the country to be ONE VOICE for our kids! AWO also gives monthly grants to families in need, funds research grants for clinical trials, and hosts a free Bereavement Retreat for families who have lost a child to cancer. There are many childhood cancer foundations out there, but very few are touching as many lives as Arms Wide Open. The name suits this foundation perfectly. Dena Sherwood's arms are indeed WIDE open as she faithfully takes her lead from the depths of her heart and the direction of her heavenly father.

Donna243

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Arms Wide Open CCF is a foundation that truly cares about the community it serves. This message is driven down from the leadership to the volunteers and out to the children and families it serves in the childhood cancer community. The service offerings and fundraising initiatives are implemented at all levels to include legislative awareness, community outreach and involvement, research, bereavement retreats, empowering the next generation of young leaders to be advocates, be selfless, be compassionate, be vocal, and be present. I am honored to work with them when I can.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

This organization, founded by Dena Sherwood, does incredible work in raising funds and educating the public about nueroblastoma. But as important for me is her unwavering faith. Her life is a testament to what faith can accomplish. Simply in her presence, I understand the divinity in all of us. Her faith has strengthened mine, and I am grateful that I know her.

1 Patty C.

Donor

Rating: 5

This is a charity that makes a difference not only in research, which they do, but to individual children fighting the cancer monster. Dena Sherwood, the founder, visits these warriors and their families and fulfills the smallest wants and the greatest needs. She is an angel on earth. Her tireless fundraising and awareness campaigns leave all who know her and this incredible foundation in awe.