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Thanks to Lions Clubs for helping families who need it most

A parent’s worst nightmare is having a child become ill, especially with a life-threatening disease.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and the Lions Clubs of the Upper Peninsula are doing their part to support multiple initiatives to help U.P. children and their families who are currently battling, previously battled or have tragically lost their battle with this horrible disease.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14 behind car accidents, according to the American Cancer Society, which estimates that 11,050 children under the age of 15 in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer in 2020, and 1,190 children will die from the disease, or 10.7 percent.

U.P. Lions are stepping up to help as they can. The District 10 Lions Clubs, which consist of the 54 Lions Clubs across the Upper Peninsula, have identified at least 10 families within the U.P. who have a child battling cancer in 2020. Four of those families have received assistance from the District 10 Lions Clubs so far, according to a story that ran on the Health page in Tuesday’s Mining Journal.

“In the Upper Peninsula, the first and most important thing is the District 10 Lions’ Childhood Cancer initiative and support of our community and families with children who are battling this disease,” Christine Smith, chairman of the District 10 Lions Childhood Cancer initiative, told Staff Writer Ryan Spitza. “We now have the funds and other resources to help those who are affected. We are searching for kiddos and families who need our help. This could be kids who are fighting cancer currently, those who are in remission, or the families of those who are deceased. Anyone who has been affected is eligible to receive our help.”

The District 10 Lions are currently working with three nonprofit organizations to support U.P. children affected by the disease, including ‘Kids Kicking Cancer,’ ‘Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan’ and ‘Camp Quality.’

Kids Kicking Cancer, based in downstate Southfield, was founded in 1999 at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. The now-global organization teaches martial arts as a therapeutic to over 7,000 children battling life-threatening illnesses in 90 hospitals and program locations spread across seven countries.

U.P. children now have the opportunity to participate in Kids Kicking Cancer for free, thanks in part to an unlikely ally, the coronavirus.

COVID-19 has changed the way Kids Kicking Cancer operates. Before the globe came to a screeching halt in March, the organization held in-person classes and locations varied from day to day. Now in the age of virtual programming, online martial arts classes are available to any child who enrolls, no matter where they’re located in the world.

Here in the U.P., the program has been made free through the District 10 Lions Clubs and a generous grant from the Graymont Community and Economic Development Fund, which is administered by Lake Superior State University, as well as other area fundraising efforts.

The second nonprofit, Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan, provides wigs and other services to children and young adults dealing with hair loss due to cancer, burns or other serious illnesses. The District 10 Lions Clubs are now encouraging U.P. hair salons to become Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids salons, meaning hair can be directly sent to Maggie’s for wig creation. The clubs are calling it a “Hair-Raiser,” and U.P. residents are also encouraged to donate their hair.

The final nonprofit initiative is Camp Quality, founded in Sydney, Australia in 1983 with the first U.S. camp held in 1986 in Missouri.

Each Camp Quality location hosts a week-long summer residence camp for children with cancer and their siblings along with a reunion later in the fall at no cost.

Other events include family weekends, holiday parties, day trips, winter weekends and more that provide fun and friendship according to Camp Quality’s website.

All wonderful programs for youth and their families.

Lions Clubs International is the largest service organization in the world with over 1.35 million members and 46,000 clubs spread across 206 countries.

The Engadine-Naubinway Lions Club has also been named a recipient of the 2019-20 Childhood Cancer Hero Club banner patch. Only 22 clubs in the state are awarded this honor each year.

For more information on Kids Kicking Cancer, visit www.kidskickingcancer.org. To learn about Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan, visit www.wigsforkids.org and for information on Camp Quality, visit www.campqualityusa.org.

If you’re a U.P. family with a child currently battling, previously battled or who’s passed away from cancer, don’t hesitate to reach out to the District 10 Lions Childhood Cancer chairman Christine Smith at 313-682-8900 or lionchris906pcc@outlook.com. Smith says that privacy is respected and personal information remains confidential.

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