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2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Children's Cancer Connection

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Cancer, Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services, Youth Development

Mission: Connecting families affected by childhood cancer by providing opportunities that encourage relationships and strengthen community.

Target demographics: Children and families affected by childhood cancer

Direct beneficiaries per year: We reached over 600 families last year alone.

Geographic areas served: Iowa and surrounding

Programs: We host many programs, including two weeks of summer camps each summer, one for oncology patients and one for siblings. We also host day camps in the summer, Comfort Connection for bereaved parents, Kid's Club, teen hangouts and lock-ins and so much more.

Community Stories

110 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Client Served

Rating: 4

My son, Ian, was diagnosed with leukemia at the end of last May. It was the most devastating thing that has ever happened to me in my life. I was so overwhelmed with emotion, and trying to deal with all the changes that became part of my life, and Cancer Connection helped with this. They provided a wonderful manual at the beginning of my son's diagnosis that helped me to better understand what he was going through, and helped me to find some coping strategies. Thing went along fine for several months, and then this winter I had an emotional relapse. I started to feel upset about my son's diagnosis again, even though things were still going well. I didn't understand this, and my confusion made me feel even worse. Cancer Connection was there for me again. They connected me with another mom who had a daughter with leukemia. We were able to meet and talk, and it helped me tremendously. Additionally, there is always someone from Cancer Connection at the oncology clinic to help the kids in the waiting area with crafts, games, etc. My son enjoys working with these volunteers and I'm thankful that they are willing to share their time to make our visit at the clinic (not my son's favorite place) a little more pleasant. Life changes in so many ways when your child is diagnosd with cancer. There are the obvious changes like hospital and clinic visits, and lost of medical bills, but there are also a lot of challenges that people don't think about as readily, such as the continual emotional roller coaster and strain to parents, dealing with side effects, and trying to help your child feel positive about an awful situation. Cancer Connection helps to fill the gap for these concerns.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

All our children have attended the Heart Connection summer camps and programs since 1991. Our oldest son was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor when he was 5 years old. Less then a year after his surgery and radiation treatments (still in a wheel chair and with great reservations of letting him go for a week) we took him to the Heart Connection Summer Oncology Camp. It was the thrill of his summer and he continued to go every summer until he "graduated". Now he attends the "weekend" retreats for the older kids who are cancer survivors. He also volunteered a summer working in the arts and crafts.

His younger sister and brother also attended the sibling camps. All three thoroughly loved the fun they cherished during those weeks at the summer camps. They never missed attending a camp. It was their summer highlight. They made new friends who they may know for their lifetime. Our daughter is returning as a volunteer and hopes to use her RN experience and volunteer at the health lodge during the camp.

The fond memories the camp gives these children is unsurpassed and unforgettable! The Heart Connection Children's Cancer Connection programs makes a difference in a child's eyes and provides them with love to see some of the rainbows in life!

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Children's Cancer Connection does so much to help families from the day they are diagnosed. They continue to be with the family for small celebrations and big ones.

Children's Cancer Connection makes you feel like family once you become a part of the organization.

Review from Guidestar

Donor

Rating: 4

We lost our daughter when she was 17 year old to cancer. She died to young and to keep her memory alive we have donated or purchased items from CCC in her honor. This group does awsome job of bringing joy to so many people in so many ways. If we stop funding research now we will lose more children and that just should not happen keep up the good work.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The environment CCC provides is amazing. I volunteered at sibling camp this past summer and the organization provides such a family like atmosphere for not only the children at camp but the staff as well. The siblings were able to spend a week in the spotlight! The camp also has so many traditions that I felt like it might be overwhelming for a new camper, but everyone there is so open to welcoming new members into this CCC "family".

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering with Children's Cancer Connection is an emotionally rewarding experience. The children and families taught me more about life than one can possibly hope to learn on their own. They teach perseverance, acceptance, honesty, compassion, and respect, among many other things. Working with the camp programs was the highlight of my years as a counselor. Watching the children grow throughout the week of camp was an incredibly experience that I will take with me throughout life. My time with Children's Cancer Programs has confirmed my future career goal of working in pediatric oncology nursing. Heartfelt thanks to the children, families, and staff of CCC for making everyone's lives a little better.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

My older sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was 11 years old, I was 8 and our brother was 5. We heard about the Heart Connection through the Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines. In the summer of 1998 my sister went to camp for the first time in June. She came back with nothing but good things to say about it so my brother and I attended sibling week in July that same summer. From my very first day at camp I have made lifelong friends every time I go. These friends have always been my biggest support and most stable things in my life; especially after my sister passed away at age 15 in December 2000.

I must admit during my teenage years I got into quite a bit of trouble at home and the summer right before my senior year my parents told me I couldn't go to camp; that was the end of life as I knew it. I expressed to my parents how important it was that I went, camp was my therapy in life and without I would have gone crazy and ended up in a bad place. After talking with my parents they decided to let me go, they could tell over the previous 8 years of being a camper how much camp meant to me and my brother.

After I graduated high school I came back to camp as a volunteer, first on the kitchen staff (during the floods of 2008), then as a counselor, and last year on the Directors Team. Throughout the years I also have part-took in Stand Up to Cancer, the Annual Ski Trip, Walk to the Beat, and many other fundraisers. I know how important the Children's Cancer Connection is to me and how much it has helped me cope in life, so I try to give back to the organization as much as possible so other people just like me can get the love and support they need to make it through the battle against cancer.

Review from Guidestar

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My sister was diagnosed with Leukemia at age 9 (I was 8). Although I was distraught and extremely scared, I found comfort in knowing the Heart Connection was there as a support, along with my wonderful family. I was a camper, a counselor, and have volunteered for several events since I was 8 years old. Now that I am 30, I still find comfort in knowing the organization exists and is as strong as ever for children enduring the same bump in the road as I did. The Heart Connection is a wonderful organization with an amazing staff!

Review from Guidestar

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have been a involved with the Children's Cancer Connection since 1989 when one of our 6 children was diagnosed with lukeamia. We have sent 4 children to camp and have had a child involved as a camper, volunteer couselor or paid staff program director every year since. The Children's Cancer Connection is very supportive of the entire family for the entire journey and even 20+ years of survival. We have all volunteered and supported this great organization. It makes the journey no one ever wants to take so much easier.

Review from Guidestar

2

Donor

Rating: 5

I first got involved with this fabulous charity when my brother had cancer some years ago and attended their annual summer camp. He had a great experience - it allowed him to get away from the disease for a week and just be a kid again. They do fabulous work!!

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My grandson, Darick, has been attending the camp since he was 5 years old. He had leukemia and his mother (my daughter) started him in this camp as soon as she felt that he could handle it because of the great reputation. This was the best decision as Darick waits all year to attend a week where he can be with kids and counselors like himself and they can just be kids having fun. No one looks twice if they are on an IV or they are bald because they have all experienced this and through the camp they have learned compassion and life understanding of each other. When Darick returns from camp he tells us what he has done, but also how he feels about death and life. This is something that he doesn't share any other time and he has grown into such a caring young man. I have a feeling that he will want to be a counselor to help other young boys. We can't say enough about the professionalism of this camp and how important this camp is for all of the kids who attend.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

This organization has helped us in so many ways. We are very greatful for all of the activities they have provided for our kids. The camp has helped both my boys understand and deal with the impact that cancer has put on their lives. Also, made them see that they are not alone and not feel insecure from the scars. They greatly enjoy the camp and mini-camp and cannot wait for the next to come. We love The Cancer Connection!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Children's Cancer Connection is an amazing organization run by some truly special people who go above and beyond the call of duty to work to improve the lives of children and families dealing with childhood cancer. When I lived in the Des Moines area, it was an honor to volunteer with them and I would encourage anyone capable of helping out this fantastic cause!

Review from Guidestar

Donor

Rating: 5

Children's Cancer Connection and their programs are a godsend to families! The volunteers are dedicated, wonderful caring individuals that are there to help the children and their families. My family participates in the Danny Joe Golf Tournament each June to raise money to help this worthy cause. Thank you for all you do! Karen - Danny Joe's aunt.

Review from Guidestar

Heather M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Children's Cancer Connection helped us from the very beginning of my son's cancer diagnosis. They gave us a backpack full of useful items that we needed for our journey through treatment plus fun things for my son. Then when summer came they provided him with Camp. He loved it!! They were great with him and he got to be with other kids that were going through the same thing. Camp provided him with skills he needed to be around others and work through his disabilities and give him some sense of normalcy. Children's Cancer Connection is a great organization that helps not only the children but their families. They help make the journey a lot more bearable for everyone involved. They are always so nice and willing to help with anything they can. My family has definately been blessed to have known the organization and the people!

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My granddaughter was diagnosed with AAL in 2001 and spent several weeks in and out of Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa. She is a healthy survivor, now 14 yrs old. She was treated like a princess by the 'Heart Connection' volunteers with all their fun activities for the patients and siblings. She has enjoyed summer camp every year, and her siblings have also. And the other fun shows like Lion King, Sesame Street, and many others, Adventureland Park. The list just goes on and on. This is a very deserving non-profit group. I give them a big 'thumbs up!!' for all they do.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

My 12 year old son is a leukemia survivor. Although he is a cancer survivor he has lasting effects from the chemotherapy treatment. He has been attending summer camp via children's cancer connection since he was 5 years old. This camp provides one of the best (if not THE best) experience for him. He loves the camp, the counselors, his fellow campers and feels like it is a second home. He has the opportunity to talk with and interact with other kids who also have lasting effects due to cancer treatment. Heart Connection cancer camp allows him to see that he is not alone and gives him the opportunity to open up and connect with others at a very private emotional level. As he gets older he has become more sensative to his situation and how the world sees him. When at camp he is just one of the kids. Camp is a soft place to land and fires him up and makes it possible for him to continue to face his daily challenges. I just can't say enough about Children's Cancer Connection, the organization and the services they provide. Without camp we would be crushed!!!!! This organization is the absolute best!!!!!!!!

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

I've been involved with Children's Cancer Connection for the past 12 years as a camper at Heart Connection. Not only is it one of my absolute favorite places on Earth, but it is a wonderful program that has shown me that there is some good that can come out of such an ugly disease. I plan on volunteering for Heart Connection as much as possible in the future and would advise anyone else to get involved in any way they can.

I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of 5 and the nurses at the University of Iowa Children's Hospital informed my family of this unique camp. After the first year, I was hooked. Heart Connection and Children's Cancer Connection gave me hope, courage, and strength when I needed it most. It also gave me friendships that will last a lifetime. I'm so grateful for every opportunity I've had with them.

Review from Guidestar

Leilani M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our daughter Ava, age 10, is lucky to be a leukemia survivor. Every summer since 2005, she and her brother Jared, age 12, spend an amazing week at the CCC camps, which keeps our entire family humble of heart and bonded to the cancer community, enriching our sense of gratitude for health, life, and the eternal human spirit. CCC is our most powerful connection to the cancer experience, which helps us strive to be better individuals and a closer family.

Review from Guidestar

Joni H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We love Childern's Cancer Connection! When my youngest was diagnosed with a brain tumor 3 years ago the CCC was there to support us. We have participated in the Beads of Bravery program. My oldest has been to Sibling Camp 3 years in a row and her smile says it all when we pick her up at the end of the week! The CCC puts on an AWESOME Christmas party every year with ice skating, snacks, story time and SANTA. My oldest has also participated in a basketball camp for 2 years now. We have been to Adventureland with the CCC and participated in CLUB HOPE; a support group for families. There is so much more and without the CCC the last three years would have been a lot harder. We have fond memories to look back on and fun to look forward too! Thank you so much Children's Cancer Connection!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at Children's Cancer Connection for about 3 months now and I love every minute of it. I go to blank and do arts and crafts with the children while they wait to see the doctor. No matter what kind of day I am having, these kids can always put a smile on my face. I will hopefully be helping out at the week long summer camp this summer for children with cancer, put on by the Children's Cancer Connection. I am very excited for my future with this organization!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered for Children's Cancer Connection for a little over five years now. I was introduced to them while going to DMACC. I imediately fell in love with what they stood for and what they do! I couldn't help but be sucked in by all the smiling little faces and awesome people that work for and volunteer forChildren's Cancer Connection. By volunteering I have made so many new friends and had so many great experiences that I wouldn't trade for the world! I am very happy to be a part of this awesome family!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering with Children's Cancer Connection for 5 years now and I have loved every minute of it. This organization provides such wonderful support not only to children with a cancer diagnosis, but to their families as well. And they stick with them from start to finish... and beyond! I have seen firsthand the effect this organization has on kids and their families, and how dedicated these families are to the organization.

Laura

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This summer will mark my tenth year (week) volunteering at Camp Heart Connection. The kids and staff keep me coming back every year. What I like most about Children's Cancer Connection is their understanding that cancer affects the whole family. Children's Cancer Connection is there for the entire family through the entire journey. It's hard to explain the sense of community I feel every summer when I go to camp, even when words aren't spoken about the heartaches these kids must face there is an undersanding among them and a bond I cannot explain. The Children's Cancer Connection is there for familes when they need support the most. I feel privilaged to get to share a week with such an amazing group of people that are wise beyond their years and keep me grounded and focused on what's really important in life.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Children's Cancer Connection is a fabulous organization that helps kids who are dealing with cancer! Growing up is hard enough and I'm so glad there is an organization helping sick kids get through this.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Children's Cancer Connection really helped me through my time of need. I was a 13 year old boy just diagnosed with cancer. I was really upset that I had to go through this. I really did not want to participate in any of the things the CCC wanted me to do but they kept trying. Eventually I went to a Timberwolves game with them, and that talked me into going to camp. Going to camp was the best thing for me. Through camp I have made life long friends and still volunteer there today.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Heart Connection gives so many children going through treatments, beads for bravery, which our son has quite a few of. Gifts at christmas time for the whole family, and gifts periodically while having treatments at the hospital , they are really great to have in our lives.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Heart Connection is a wonderful organization for Cancer children and parents. The staff is dedicated to hard work to make this a wonderful experience for all.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was diagnosed with leukemia in April 1989 at the age of 9. In June of 1989 I attended my first week of Heart Connection Camp. Since then, I have been both a camper and volunteer for this organization. All of my experiences with the Heart Connection are memories I cherish from a time in my life when most would probably think that I would rather have not have memories!
The Heart Connection provides services to children and young adults who are fighting or who have survived childhood cancer. I can't imagine that there is a better organization in the United States with the same mission.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Children's Cancer Connection has been an incredible support system for our family as our son was going through treatments. We really love how the WHOLE family is included since cancer not only impacts the child going through it, but it really turns the whole household upside down! The family camp and summer camp were awesome! Last year was the first year for my kids and they were so excited to get Valentine notes from their counselors recently! It meant so much to them that they sent a note and they are excited to attend again this year to see their camp friends. Obviously, camp is only a part of what this organization does, but we are thankful that they were available to us during the treatments and continue to be part of our family during our continued followups. What a great resource and support system for the entire family.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Childrens Cancer Connection is a wonderful organization that I have worked closely with for several years. The staff is incredible and their number one concern is for the children and trying to give them some happiness during their difficult journey fighting cancer.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've worked with The Heart Connection for a few years now and LOVE how this organization's number one concern is the children. Outside of the hundreds of amazing things this organization does for children with cancer, they make children living with cancer feel like the most important, normal kids in the world for one week out of the year. It is the best week of the year for almost every kid at camp.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

We've been associated with The Heart Connection since my son was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer in 2000. They are an indespensible resource for children and families dealing with childhood cancer. It's hard enough for kids to go through the rigors of cancer treatment and feel "different" from all their friends. Their summer camp allows these kids to act like normal kids for a week and have the true summer camp expereicne without other kids staring at their lack of hair, their wheelchair, braces, crutches, etc. My son has attended camp numerous times with braces and crutches and has had an amazing time and will be continuing as an adult counselor. They also provide support group services for families including on for the survivors who have beomce adults, addressing the possible after affects of their treatments and helping them move forward. It's not just a charity that sends kids to camp, they look for needs in every aspect of dealing with childhood cancer and try to fill them. INVALUABLE pretty much sums up The Heart Connection. - Carol L

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We have been involved with the the Heart Connection since our son cancer was discoverd in 1992. We have 7 children and all of have enjoyed the friendships and experiences of attending summer camps. We moved 600 miles away from Iowa but still came back twice a year since 1997. Some of children have even volunteered as councilers.

My wife and I as well have had great times working in the kitchen for 18 years.

These kind of experiiences have given us great memories and only possible through the heart connection. They have provided programs that cancer patients and siblings look forward to every year. We have committed to help as long as they will have us.

Rudy Knight

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 4

As a volunteer and former employee of Children's Cancer Connection I can't say enough kind words about the staff who put in long hours and all their best efforts to create programs that actually do make life for children/adolescents with cancer a little bit better.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Childrens Cancer Connection has been a part of our life since our daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia nearly ten years ago. CCC provides many opportunities and support for the children and their families while dealing with cancer. They provide some activites while the child is at the clinic or hospital. They provide camp to the children and their siblings, and numerous other activities throughout the year. My children are always excited when anything is going on with the CCC. The connections that the children have made with the other campers and staff are priceless, and life long.

Review from Guidestar

Donor

Rating: 5

Having visited Sibling Camp, the Christmas Card Kick-Off Event and the Breakfast of Champions, I am continually humbled by the spirit of the children and their families and the compassion of the volunteers. Participating in the Adopt-a-Family was a joy for our office in giving. The thoughtfulness of thank yous and photos of our family that we received was truly a 'connection' for us all.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been involved in this awesome organization since 1994 when our son was diagnosed with Leukemia. We have been involved as a board member, a volunteer and our family has been the recipient of the wonderful benefits provided by the Children's Cancer Connection. Matt was a camper for many years and always intentely watched the mail each year, eagerly watching for the camp application.

This is just a phenomenal organization with wonderful caring people involved in the leadership, the organizational structure and as the volunteers that make the organization work.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Not only Have I volenteered for The Heart Conenction of the past several years. But I have also been a camper. They offer a camp and a safe haven like no other. It helps the campers afflicted with cancer and perhaps humilations in their everyday lives, a place to feel welcomed and part of a group of friends that they know they truley belong with. I know first hand this is true, in school I never had any friends, I was very shy and was picked on. But at camp I was able to open up and talk to people. I've made life long friends because of it. And because I volenteet I can give back not only what I recieved in friendship but in guidance from many of the volenteers I've met as a camper. I love this camp and look forward to seeing new faces and all of the campers I've grown to know and fromed bonds with. Childhood cancer is unquiqe in an almost decieving way/ Because the desease takes so much from us and leaves us batterned an worn. Many of us have life long side effects. I can speak first hand having a learning disability. But I feel I am lucky, some of my camper friends have difficulty walking. But we have that bond we are survivors of childhood cancer and it's a mutual understanding that no of us whould trade for the world . The Heart Connection has given us a wonderful and rare opportunity to conect with people like us. And to teach those who might not otherwise understand what it means to have or have had childhood cancer.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered at Camp Heart last summer and it was a great experience. It was my first experience working at a camp and I intend to return every year I can. It is wonderful to know that Iowa has such an amazing resource available to our young people.

Review from Guidestar

15

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a sibling camper at the Heart Connection for 10 years. Throughout those years, I was able to share my experiences with other kids who went through the exact same thing. I made more friends through camp than I could have every imagined. Camp meant so much to my brother and I that we both now volunteer as counselors at camp. I am so please to know that by me donating just one week of time to those kids, they are able to cope with cancer a little easier. The Heart Connection has done so much for my family and for families like mine, and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. I would not be the person that I am today without them.

15

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Heart Connection has played an invaluable role in my family's coping with a childhood cancer diagnosis. My niece has found a place, in Camp, where she is free to acknowledge her feelings and express them however she needs; with people who really understand. She lost her sister eight years ago and without Heart Connection I don't think she'd be the healthy, well-adjusted teenager she is today. We have bene blessed by this wonderful organization!

16

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter was diagnosed with cancer at age 11, but the truth is, the whole family has to work at survival. The Heart Connection is hands down the main reason that my kids have learned to cope. We have what I believe to be a close, loving family, but my son, who was 9 at the time of her diagnosis, was dealing by literally running away. After one week at The Heart Connection Camp, he came home a different kid. He came home a survivor. My kids have attended for 6 years now and their camp counselors and camp friends have been a tremendous influence in their lives. There is something incredibly special about being around others who know what you're going through. I don't think it always takes words, but rather just the presence of someone who understands, and that seems to be what makes the difference at The Heart Connection Camp. Everyone just understands without having to explain anything. Thank you Heart Connection for providing so many beautiful years of survival for my entire family.

15

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I will be volunteering at Heart Connection camp for the second time this August and I cannot wait. The best part is seeing how easy it is for the children to bond knowing that they all share something in common. The Heart Connection does so many great things for children with cancer and their families. They also focus a lot of their efforts on siblings of children affected by cancer because most times they get left out. Because of Heart Connection there are countless friendships between families, cancer wariors, and siblings; these are the friendships that keep hope alive.

15

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering for The Heart Connection for a few years and I want to let everyone know how inspiration the organization is. To see the children at summer camp that can relate to one another because of their illness is powerful. This organzation brings together a number of different people who work to help make the lives of families and children that are affected with childhood cancer a little easier. This organization wouldn't be possile without the giving donors, helpful staff and supportive volunteers. Overall, It's a great organization to be associated with.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Heart Connection has a wonderful and friendly staff that is unbeatable. The programs and services are top-quality and are truly making a difference in our community!

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Heart Connection is an amazing organization that is filled with love and support. This organization makes a difference in the lives of the people that it touches. Through the many events that I've volunteered at for The Heart Connection, I can see how hard the staff, volunteers and supporters work for this organzation.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The weeks I have spent volunteering at Camp Heart Connection have been amazing! To see Oncology Campers who have been so sick during the year thriving outdoors and to see Sibling Campers who are often in the shadows during the year get attention showered on them makes my year. Camp Heart Connection changes lives of both the kids and the staff.

8

Client Served

Rating: 5

One of the many blessings that came to our family in the difficult journey of our son's diagnosis of Ewing's Sarcoma at age 7 is the Heart Connection. The times that we spent together at Family Camps over the years were invaluable in many ways. We had fun and could actually relax in the unique company of families and staff who knew all about our struggles.

12

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was introduced to the Heart Connection when my 3 yr. old son, Derek, was diagnosed with brain cancer November 2007. The staff provided a treatment book to help us keep track of all of the procedures, appointments, doctors, and medicines he would need for the next 16 months. Later the Heart Connection further help our family by allowing our daughter 6 yr old Jenna to go to camp with other siblings with the same experiences as her. She realized she was not alone and it allowed her to escape from the realities of cancer and enjoy being a child. She is anxiously awaiting camp this year and has already said she wants to be a counselor when the time comes. In addition, the Heart Connection has helped us with the creation of ClupHOPE, an organization fo parents caring for children in any stage of diagnosis, treatment, recovery, or rememberance. Families can meet and discuss the struggles they are facing with caring individuals who understand the problems, The warmth and caring offered by the Heart Connection is unsurpassed. Heart Connection events are a highlight on the calendar and always something to look forward to in the month. It is a respite from the stress and worries that treatment brings. It is an environment of trust, respect, fun, and love.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Heart Connection has been a lifesaver for our family. We first found out about it when our son Brandon (13) was in his second year of treatment for brain cancer. Brandon went to oncology camp and Courtney (11) and Jordan (8) went to sibling camp. Brandon passed away at Christmas that year (1996) and the loss was devestating for our family. The kids continued to attend sibling camp. It was such a wonderfully loving atmosphere with them and they were able to spend time with other kids who understood exactly what they were experiencing. Eventually Taylor who was three at the time of Brandon's death started going to camp as well. Courtney is 24, Jordan, 21 and Taylor turned 16 this month and he is currently awaiting another week at camp. There's not enough words to express the love and support my children receive at camp and how that love carries over from year to year. They can't wait to go back. Courtney and Jordan go along to take Taylor so they can touch base with old friends. The Heart Connection is truly a wonderful resource and I'm so thankful for the opportunity for my children to be a part of it.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

We love the Heart Connection Summer Camp program! My son Jim was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 5 1/2 and he started going to camp when he was 7. He is now 14 and still loves camp! It is a safe place, for kids to connect with other kids, who are going through the same thing...dealing with cancer. The kids don't stare at you when you have a bald head, a port sticking out of your chest, or you are missing a limb. My son hopes to one day be a camp counselor, and help other kids who are fighting the battle with cancer, to enjoy the summer camp experience in a safe environment. Thanks Heart Connection Camp staff for all you do!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering with The Heart Connection for over a year now and am very impressed with how they operate. Their cause is noble and their effect can be seen directly impacting the children and families that they serve. This is a very "hands on" organization and is well known in the community for the work that they do. I always feel that my time is appreciated and necessary to support their cause. Knowing that something I did helped make a sick child smile is just an amazing feeling.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

I can't remember a time that heart connection wasn't part of our lives. My son was diagnosed 15 years ago, and although he is now all grown up, Heart connection is still there, supporting our family. My daughter still goes to camp every year and attends as many of the events as she can. When she can no longer be a camper, she intends to become a counselor. She has developed long term friendships at camp that are important to her. Heart connection has helped my children become people who care about others, and I will always be greatful.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Heart Connection is an awesome program for our family. We are able to join with other people around the state to share our joys and trials and get support from people who understand us very well. The summer camps allow my boys to get away from the stress of daily cancer fighting and be free to enjoy themselves. We really love the year round gatherings and look forward to each get away.

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Heart Connection is an amazing organization that shows kids who are fighting cancer that they are not alone. This group of wonderful volunteers brings these kids and their families together through many different types of activities throughout the year and lets us ALL have fun! They show the kids who are fighting day after day to be normal, that they can be normal. They can go to camp for a whole week and do all of the things other kids are doing during for the summer and still be safe. They have qualified counselors and staff available to make sure these kids are well taken care of and have the time of their lives!!! My 9 year old daughter, who was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 4, finally went to camp this summer and came back a whole new girl. She realized that with all she has been through, she can't wait to be able to help kids with cancer just like the people with Heart Connection have done for her. And as much as they have done for her, they have also done as much for us as a family. We try to participate in the different activities that are offered to us through the Heart Connection, like family camp or a day at Adventureland Amusement Park, just so we can reach out to other people who are going through some of the same things we have been through. We understand and can relate. The Heart Connection has given us all a lot to be thankful for, especially them!!

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

There is no organization like the Heart Connection Children's Cancer Programs. A cancer diagnosis brings the world to a halt. And then it starts to spin. Doctors, procedures, hair loss, nausea, waiting for test results and dealing with insurance. But the outside world really doesn't halt. Simple things like going to work, making dinner, getting kids to school keep going. You try to hang on, you try to let go. You try to breath, you try not to drown. And you try to keep the other kids' world running, along with the marriage. And through all of that, there is this incredible organization, the Heart Connection. They invite the entire family to the most fun activities imaginable, they feed us, they put us around other families in the same boat, and they do it all for free. They provided some of the rare "fun" times that we couldn't manage in the midst of juggling it all. And then there is camp. A week for oncology kids with doctors and nurses and volunteers who come back year after year. The fragile child is handed off into the most capable hands that even we overprotective parents feel safe. Feeding tubes, ports, wheelchairs, they deal with it all and turn no one away. And then they go even further. A week for the siblings. The overlooked ones who we struggled just to keep fed and clothed and going to school. The ones who wonder why they can't go to the hospital and get all that attention too. They go away for a magical week each year, with those wonderful volunteers who have watched them grow over the years, who have become a second family. And they smile and wave goodbye, independent and safe for a week of pure spoiling. The stuff I couldn't do. And even 12 years post cancer, they still invite us to their activities. We still go to family camp and summer camp. And it brings back all that we went through and all that we survived and gratitude for it all. At this point in my child's recovery, I still go to these activities to stay clear, to remember what is important in life, and how fortunate we are. I love this organization with all of my heart. so much so that I even open my wallet to them, which is not something I do often as a single parent of three. My goal each year is to give them more than last year. They just gave to us, they continue to keep giving to us, with open arms and undaunting smiles. May you never face childhood cancer, but if you do, move to Des Moines, Iowa. This organization is worth it.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

This organization is so close to my heart. The Heart Connection has offered support to me and my family when my daughter was diagnosed with cancer at 5 months old. This organization has connected us with other families who have also been impacted by this terrifying disease. The Heart Connection offers continuous opportunities for children diagnosed with cancer and their families to have fun and smile during and after treatment. We are forever grateful to The Heart Connection!

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Heart Connection has become like a part of our family. I don't know what I would have done with out thier support since my Daughter was diagnosed with ALL 2 years ago. They have been there for my other children when I couldn't and the many different programs they have for families of children with cancer are amazing. Thank you so much!!

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Heart Connection is an incredible organization that brings families together in supporting childhood cancer. The support they provide for the kids going through cancer and the families that this affects is unbelievable.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Heart Connection is an amazing organization that couldn't do HALF of what they do without the generous support of volunteers and donors! The families are amazing!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Heart Connection is such an amazing organization! They offer so much support for the families and all the activities and programs are top notch!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Our entire family has been involved with The Heart Connection Children's Cancer Programs since it's beginning. We have had campers at both the oncology and sibling camps. Our campers have served as staff and counselors. Our extended family has volunteered for 10 years at oncology camp and it is absolutely, the most rewarding thing I have done in my life. Camp and events provide so much to so many, fulfilling the NEEDS of whatever the camper/family is coping with. Every family member is effectived by this horrible disease and THCCCP addresses those issues. Camp staff is amazing and the campers are everyone's top priority. We have volunteered at events outside of camp, done fund-raising in our hometown and volunteered in the office. ALL have been wonderful experiences that make you feel good about helping these families.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the pleasure of working with the Heart Connection since it's inception many years ago. My original role was as a staff nurse for our onoclogy camp. To watch a child with cancer go swimming, horse-back riding, climbing "the wall", dancing with a new best friend or love is just amazing!! For many of them, it's the first venture back to "normal" life. Later I have become both a financial supporter, and more importantly an advocate for making sure that all of our families know about the wonderful programs that The Heart Connection provides for them. We receive a wonderful treatment notebook that we simply fill in with the appropriate pages for each child's care plan that I hand out to families at the time of diagnosis. Our parents love having everything in one organized space. Some of our kids actually look forward to painful procedures because they get a new bead for their necklace through the Beads for Bravery program that the Heart Connection funds and supports. I've had the pleasure of attending several family camps as a leader for parental group sessions wherein not only the child with cancer, but the entire family get to experience the camp expericence and weekend of fun. The siblings of our children with cancer look forward to attending camp year after year. They are made to feel very special for a whole week and the focus of attention is on the sib rather than the ill child. New programs looking at support groups for the parents and sibs in the commumity, looking at issues of long-term survivorship, and just providing special experiences for our children with cancer are in the beginning phase. The most wonderful thing about the Heart Connection is that they provide all these services to our families at NO COST. Many of them are very financially strapped to make ends meet with all the extra expenses of bills not paid by insurance, extra travel and child care expenses, loss of income from one of the parents needing to quit working to care for the ill child, etc.