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2019 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

56 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 Amy M.4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Full of love, support and educational. Professional yet and personal enough to know they care about us.

Previous Stories
2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Incredibley friendly.
Heart of gold.
Care for EVERYONE
no one is alone

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have benefited from the amazing outreach to bereaved parents and families. After my teenaged son passed away from his cancer, my daughter managed to find out about a weekend put on for bereaved families run by AWOCCF. I didn't want to go, didn't want to be there, BUT I felt so supported and loved throughout the weekend. Amazing group that truly cares about childhood cancer patients and their families.

1 Traci K.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is an amazing foundation headed by an even more amazing woman!

As a Bereaved Parent who lost my daughter to Childhood Cancer, I’ve been to 3 of their Bereavement Retreats.
Dena does a fabulous job of not only promoting awareness and helping to find cancer research but she does amazing things for us bereaved parents also!
I can’t say enough about this organization and how helpful it’s been to me and my family.

Previous Stories
2

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.

1 Julie Messal M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

So grateful for the constant love, compassion and support of this organization. It makes us all a part of something bigger and we are better together!

Previous Stories
2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Amazing foundation! Helped us out so much when we felt isolated, alone and afraid. Arms Wide Open gave us HOPE and a family!

1 Jenny I.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This organization goes above and beyond, every time. I have experienced a night for mom's at the RMDHNYC, Curefest, and two Bereavement Retreats. The details that go into everything they do means the world to us. The love and support is always abundant and the connections made between families through these events will last a lifetime. Thank you for all that you do Dena and Arms Wide Open!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have participated in programming sponsored by this foundation for the last 4 years. I recently was able to take advantage of a bereavement retreat for families impacted by Childhood Cancer. It was elegant, compassionate, caring and full of love.

2 Beau H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Arms Wide Open is an amazing nonprofit...from funding innovative clinical trials, to spreading awareness through the Truth365 or uniting the childhood cancer community at CureFest...this is a mission driven foundation. My family and I have seen and felt the profound effect that this wonderful organization has on families as they fight and heal. Thank you Arms Wide Open and Dena Sherwood for all that you do.
Beau Hester

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Before my son passed away from leukemia in 2015, he expressed to me his desire for there to be a cure for childhood cancer. In his memory, I wanted to find a way to make his wish a reality in the only way I knew I could and that is to fundraise for pediatric cancer research.

I researched many non-profits to raise money for but was disappointed that a good chunk of fundraising money went to administrative costs. A friend told me about AWOCCF and I reached out. Dena spent an hour on the phone with me sharing her story, her foundation mission and encouraging me to do what I was comfortable doing. It was a great match! I can now fundraise and be confident that the donations from our supportive community are going to research -100% and Dena makes sure of that. She's amazing and tremendously supportive.

AWOCCF and it's founder, Dena, have hearts of gold. I've met so many supportive people that have helped me navigate this new reality I find myself in.

1 estein

Client Served

Rating: 5

We just returned from a bereaved parents retreat put on by Arms Wide Open. I didn't want to be there because of the reason I was there but it was just what I needed. A chance to connect with other grieving families without judgement and with understanding and compassion. We are so grateful to have been there and hope we can attend in the future.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to attend two bereavement retreats hosted by Arms Wide Open foundation, and the impact on me has been immeasurable. All that this foundation and it’s volunteers give so humbly and graciously to those of us who have lost children to cancer is gratefully accepted and treasured. I am so grateful for the connections i have made with other grieving mamas through the work of this foundation. They provide so much needed Goodness ❤️.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter and I have attended the Arms Wide Open Bereavement Retreat a few times. It has given us the opportunity to meet families who understand and create friendships with these families. Dena and the whole crew do such an amazing job!

2 Mary Vinnie S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

They are one of the best. They come along parents, support them both physically as well as spiritually. They walk the course with those they come alongside and get to know every person they support. Outstanding group.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

AWOCC is an organization run by people who are heaven sent...angels on earth who have hearts of gold!

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I decided to write this review because I am so impressed by and grateful for the way AWOCCF has really focused in on the work needed to improve outcomes and quality of life for children with cancer. First, AWOCCF is funding the types of clinical trials that lead to more effective therapies and less toxic therapies – so crucial, because such new therapies are the only way more children can survive and also have healthy future lives. And not only does AWOCCF do its own fundraising, but it's communicating this desperate need to a much wider population with its very powerful Truth 365 media campaign. In addition, by co-hosting the annual Curefest event in DC, AWOCC brings pediatric cancer stakeholders together and facilitates more effective, more coordinated advocacy for the cause. Finally, and equally important, AWOCCF is giving direct support to the families actually going through pediatric cancer, with its financial assistance and variety of wellness programs. Keep up the excellent work, AWOCCF, and many, many thanks from a "cancer mom"!!

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Wonderful organization dedicated to eradicating childhood cancer.

2 Maidie S.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Amazing! They are trying to get better , less toxic, cancer treatments for children..

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Arms Wide Open has been there through thick and thin when ever a family fighting cancer is in need. Dena Sherwood and her volunteers are truly angels on earth...God Bless you all.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

When my Grandson was first Diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma not only did Dena reach out to our family but she contacted doctors at sloan and was able to get us in contact with the doctors who ultimately saved his life with their protocols . Arms wide open childhood cancer foundation also provided us with some financial assistance as well as a place to go for information on new and existing options out there that might benefit our grandson.
I found A.W.O.C.C.F to be more than a foundation that help meet the needs of many cancer families through their many outreaches but a foundation with a human touch .

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

Dena is an incredible support to families that are going through and living out neuroblastoma diagnosis. She was our life line when our son was first diagnosed feeding us with hope and helping us make connections to get the best care possible. We are eternally grateful for her and all this foundation does to help families in crisis.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

When my nephew was diagnosed with neuroblastoma we were lost. Arms Wide Open literally forced themselves into his parents life and helped them overcome the shock of the diagnosis and move forward. It would have been neatly impossible without them. Thank you...