Friends Like Us – Making a Difference

In the US alone, over 11,000 children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with cancer each year. Being diagnosed with a deadly disease at such a young age can be a devastatingly emotional blow to both the children effected and their families.

Friends Like Us is a nonprofit focused on making a difference in the lives of both the children effected by cancer and the impact it has ontheir family as a whole. We think what they are doing is simply fantastic and they are this Week’s Cause of the Week!

They will be tweeting out of our twitter accounts for the Week, so watch for those tweets! They will also be taking advantage of our Donate Your Friends Program.

If you would like to donate your friends to Friends Like Us, please head to our donate your friends signup page.

Continue reading our interview with Mark Bailey Founder of Friends Like Us

    How did the whole idea come about?

    The idea of Friends Like Us came about when our 4 year old son was diagnosed with leukemia. Our son had a really rough time opening up to the doctors and nurses to let them do their job to help him with chemo and other medications. We as parents were fighting anxiety because we knew he had to have the chemo and medications to survive. So, we had a teddy bear made for him and gave him a complete medical kit to go with it. We put a port in the teddy bears chest (just like our son’s) with the tubing coming out of the bear, so he could to pretend to give the bear chemo and medications. To our amazement it started working. Brandon (our son) would let us know that his bear’s legs were hurting or the bear had a headache, then that would let us know that the teddy bear was speaking (through Brandon) on what was actually happening in Brandon’s body. Brandon started to let the doctors in. The teddy bear opened up a line of communication between the doctors/nurses and our son. The doctors and nurses would evaluate the teddy bear first then they would evaluate Brandon. The nurses pretended to give the teddy bear chemo, and then they would give Brandon his chemo. Finally, the worry and anxiety with Brandon stopped. One day Brandon turned to us and said “mom/dad, Murry (teddy bears name) is a friend just like me”. That’s when the idea hit us “Friends Like Us”, to help other children going through the same fears, worries and anxieties of having chemotherapy done on them. Because basically, all these children are the same and going through the same fears. The only thing that is different is the name of the cancers.
    Why is this cause close to your heart?
    This cause is close to our heart because of what we went through with our own son having cancer. We cried a lot, but we learned how to be strong. Now, we want to help children and families who are devastated by this awful disease of cancer. We still cry at the stories, but we are there for them. This is our purpose, our calling to be a candle in the dark for these families and help the parents find resources to help them right where they’re at. To help the children going through chemotherapy to make sure they get a chemo-bear to help with the fear, anxiety and worries. This is our heart!
    Quote “Anyone can give up; it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.”

    Why should others support it?

    Because of what we are doing, we are truly making a difference in the lives of these children. We are making a difference in the lives of these parents. No, we can’t take away the pain of what these children go through in having cancer, but we sure can help with the emotional side of it. We can help with the fear, worry and anxiety. Also, we really do need people’s support so we can continue doing what we’re doing to help these children and families. We can’t imagine telling a child or family no, I’m sorry we don’t have any more bears. That just hurts even thinking about it. We want to be able to always give!
    Do you have any other events or fundraisers that you would like others to know about?
    Absolutely, we have a couple going on right now online. We are always having fundraisers/bake sales all over the state of Ohio. Also, if anyone ever wanted to have a fundraiser to benefit Friends Like Us, we are always open to that help.
    Our Chemo-Bag fundraiser: http://friendslikeus.org/chemobag to help raise awareness while raising support. This is a unique fundraiser that anyone can do. It’s fun, simple and can be rewarding.
    Girl Time!: http://friendslikeus.org/girltime This is just for teen girls facing cancer  and going through chemotherapy. It’s a wonderful program and well needed for these girls. We need girl supplies such as; make-up, nail polishes/kits, lip glosses, soft ankle socks and pink bandana’s. Anyone wanting to help in this area is more than welcome to.

    What are some great stories of people donating their time and what did they receive in return?

    We have a volunteer (Libby) that helps in just about everything she can. Her heart is for children struck by illnesses. She was praying and looking for some way to help and didn’t know about any local organization and then she found us. Which we’re glad she did. We love her and her heart so much! Libby will tell you that what she receives from doing and helping is; a huge blessing of helping kids through their struggle and she is blessed as we are too, by seeing the children smile 🙂
    We also had a local organization and church donate the first money to us for our chemo-bears. They wanted to be involved and they still are. They said to us that “they get great joy from knowing they are helping children with cancer”.
    We also have a fundraiser that when anyone who helps with it and if they can help raise $300 or more, they will receive a brand new Apple iPod Shuffle in their choice of color. This is a new fundraiser and we can’t wait to see what happens with it. http://friendslikeus.org/chemobag
    What advice would you give to others that might like to take on such an amazing endeavor?
    Advice; if it’s in your heart and you can see the need, then go for it! We have put in many long hours and days, but it is well worth it, especially when you start to see the difference you are making. One thing we tell people is “there is purpose beyond pain”. We went through a huge battle with our son’s cancer, but the outcome is; he’s in remission and doing great and we are doing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing in helping others. Sometimes we go through things for a reason.

    What do you have planned for the future of Friends Like Us?

    Future plans of Friends Like Us would be; to be all over the United States in every Children’s Hospital helping any and all children diagnosed with cancer. To be the first organization that a parent calls seeking help with finding resources whether it be financial, insurances, travel, literature and more. We will search all over the U.S. to find the resources to help them. To have our Girl Time program for teen girls installed at every Children’s Hospital in the United States through happy, helpful and sincere hearted volunteers.
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