Pierce Kelly, who is now 2, was diagnosed in April 2017 not only with leukemia, the most common cancer in children and teens, he also had acute myeloid leukemia, a more rare form of the blood cancer, which can progress quickly if not treated.
Pierce would spend 115 days in Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. During that time, he had two rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, went under anesthesia 15 times, and underwent 31 platelet transfusions and 15 blood transfusions.
Pierce is weaning off some medications, but will need to take immunosuppressants to prevent rejection of his new stem cells until July 2018. You can read his entire gut-wrenching and inspirational story here to see why he is the face of the 2018 Make March Matter campaign, a partnership between Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center.
To help readers better understand the significance of this campaign, Uken Report reached out to Dawn Wilcox of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) to have her explain.
Uken Report (UR): What is Make March Matter?
Dawn Wilcox (DW): Make March Matter is a signature annual campaign designed to rally businesses and organizations in support of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. In the desert we’ve partnered with the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center to highlight the work we do together in support of the most vulnerable children in the region.
UR: When did this effort start?
DW: We first launched Make March Matter in 2016 after hearing from so many companies about their desire to have one specific time of year in which to rally customers and employees to raise money to support children’s health.
UR: What was the pivotal moment, incident, that prompted it?
DW: Before I joined Children’s Hospital Los Angeles 4 ½ years ago I’d spent 18 years in the marketing and PR world helping nonprofits market their services and brand their organizations, as well as with corporations helping them build their philanthropic platforms and create a giving strategy that would align with the brand, their employees and their customers. A tried and true PR strategy is to create a designated timeframe (day, week or month) dedicated to specific issues (such as Pink Ribbon month in October, Movember in November) and when I got to CHLA I realized that there wasn’t a specific time of year dedicated to children’s hospitals or even children’s health. So Make March Matter was born.
UR: This will be the second year Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has partnered with the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center (BSCC) in Rancho Mirage. How did that partnership materialize and why is the BSCC so critical in this fundraising effort?
DW: We’ve partnered with BSCC for the second year in a row because our Chief of Staff and Director of the Audrey Hepburn CARES center, Dr. Karen Imagawa is also on staff at BSCC and we learned that she was managing a huge caseload not only at CHLA but also at BSCC. Our collaborative efforts grew out of the desire to increase her capacity with hiring of additional staff at CHLA so she could have more time at BSCC training staff in support of her work as well as continue to see patients, ultimately allowing more patients to be seen and treated at both locations. Dr. Imagawa is uniquely qualified to be in this role as she holds certifications in general pediatrics, developmental-behavioral pediatrics and child abuse pediatrics
UR: How much has been raised since this effort started – and how specifically has it been used?
DW: Since we launched MMM in the Desert we’ve raised $150,000 (more than $3M across all of Southern California) and those funds have gone directly to offset the costs of having Dr. Imagawa provide services at BSCC. Our goal is to raise $250,000 this year.
UR: How much has remained in the Coachella Valley?
DW: The funds raised in the Coachella Valley go to CHLA and then come directly back to BSCC in support of our collaboration.
UR: How many children do you estimate will be helped with the money raised in this effort?
DW: Collectively CHLA and BSCC treat more than 1,200 kids a year. Funds are raised throughout the year by both our organizations to serve the children that are treated. BSCC would need to give more specifics.
UR: What is the best way for an individual to contribute to this fundraiser?
DW: The best way to contribute is by going to www.makemarchmatter.org and finding out which businesses are supporting the campaign. Then go out and support those businesses. You can also make a donation directly on the web site and 100% of those funds go directly CHLA/BSCC.
UR: Why March?
DW: Because March is spring – it’s hope, it’s new awakening, it’s a time of renewal. It’s also a little bit past the craziness of the holidays – especially in the retail sector. And in the Desert we know it’s a very busy time when restaurants, hotels and shops are seeing huge increases in traffic which we hope in turn will help us raise lots of money. Also, Make March Matter is a wonderful alliteration and I was a Journalism major/English minor. J
UR: Where can people learn more?
DW: Please go to makemarchmatter.org, also follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MakeMarchMatterDesert/ and on Twitter and Instagram @makemarchmatter