The Blue Lollipop Project

A Sweet Way to Fund Pediatric Cancer Research

Photo of Riley Damiano
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Written by

Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

January 28th, 2002

Where are you located:

I live in Patterson, NY, 12563. My project helps kids around the country and helps fund research at multiple research facilities.

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Instagram: @thebluelollipopproject
Website: http://bluelollipop.org

Date Started

March 3rd, 2014

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

Ty Louis Campbell, a boy I never got to meet, has changed my life. Ty passed away from an aggressive pediatric brain cancer in 2012 when he was only five years old. I was only nine years old when I was introduced to Ty’s story, but it immediately grabbed my attention. I find it so unfair that innocent children are being robbed of their childhoods and stolen from their families. I feel so discouraged by the harsh, outdated and usually adult-intended options for pediatric cancer's treatment.
After becoming engrossed in Ty's story and beginning to understand the merciless monster that is pediatric cancer, I knew that I wanted to do something to help fund pediatric cancer research while also honoring Ty in the process and that’s how The Blue Lollipop Project was born…

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 19 in the U.S. Many people think that pediatric cancer is rare, but in reality, 1 in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer by the time they are 20 years old. Pediatric cancer is severely underfunded and therefore, under-researched with only a few new treatments being approved specifically for children in the past 30 years.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

My project, The Blue Lollipop Project, funds pediatric cancer research while also bringing a blue smile to young cancer patients. I’m attempting to help solve three problems: number one, funding needed research for pediatric cancer, number two, making the days of those affected by pediatric cancer a bit brighter, and number three, spreading awareness of this underfunded disease. For every dollar donated to my project, you get a blue lollipop, a child in a hospital gets a blue lollipop, and 100% of the proceeds go to pediatric cancer research. I work with The TLC Foundation, the foundation started in honor of Ty Louis Campbell, to fund pediatric cancer research. I raise money by attending and holding events, helping others to run events for my project, and by raising awareness of this horrible disease. I know that I alone won’t be able to “solve” or cure pediatric cancer, but I do know that I can do my part.
I want every hospital's pediatric patients to receive blue lollipops which in turn will raise awareness and more funding for pediatric cancer research. I chose to partner with The TLC Foundation because 100% of their funding goes to pediatric cancer research.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Do you want to hold a "Blue Lollipop Fundraiser"? When a group says "yes" to this question, I work with them to make sure that the fundraiser is the best it can be. This includes sending them blue lollipops, a template for posters for the event, a toolkit on what The Blue Lollipop Project is and how to run a "Blue Lollipop Fundraiser" and information about the impact they will be making, as well as any other aid I can give to support their efforts. On the day of the event, the group gives out a blue lollipop for every dollar donation. They are encouraged to spread awareness of pediatric cancer to ensure that people who donate really understand the impact they are having. After the event, I speak with the group to decide where they would like the lollipops to be sent. Often, groups want lollipops to be sent to a hospital in their area or to kid's affected by cancer in the area.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Unlike a lot of other projects and organizations for pediatric cancer that focus primarily only on fundraising for research or on brightening a patient’s day, The Blue Lollipop Project tackles both. My project has sent over 8,000 blue lollipops to kids around the U.S (and a few outside of the U.S as well!). This means that over 8,000 blue smiles have been created because of my project. The Blue Lollipop Project has also raised over $8,000 for pediatric cancer research. A great thing about The Blue Lollipop Project is that everybody can get involved and relate to the magic of a blue lollipop.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

The Blue Lollipop Project has raised over $8,000 for pediatric cancer research and sent over 8,000 lollipops to kids in hospitals. Over the past 4 years since starting the project, I have received multiple notes of thanks from recipients of my lollipops. It is so gratifying to know that such a simple gesture can make a kid's day so much brighter. I have watched The TLC Foundation (http://www.thetlcfoundation.org/), the foundation with whom I work with, grow tremendously over the past 4 years. It is amazing to see the partnerships and advancements they have made with other organizations to fund innovative research. I feel proud to support their foundation through my project as they are making a big difference in the world of pediatric cancer.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

In the future, I would love to see blue lollipops in every pediatric hospital. To do this, I hope to continue growing the partnerships I have with hospitals around the U.S and eventually, around the world. I'd also love to be able to create a better website for The Blue Lollipop Project and figure out new ways to get the word out there to encourage people to hold "Blue Lollipop Fundraisers". One goal that I have is for a "Blue Lollipop Fundraiser" to have been held in every state within the next two years. I'd also like to begin having "Blue Lollipop Stands", a more pop-up version of the "Blue Lollipop Fundraiser", at larger events and fairs.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

Funding is needed for purchasing lollipops and other materials for The Blue Lollipop Project such as donation collection buckets. In addition, funding is needed for advertising. We also could use guidance to create a better website and gain marketing insight. We also need the support of people to hold events to continue the growth of The Blue Lollipop Project. Since the creation of The Blue Lollipop Project, the support of The TLC Foundation has been incredibly valuable in the bettering and continual growth of my project. The help of my family and friends has also proved immensely useful in managing The Blue Lollipop Project and in assisting with events and fundraisers.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Sales
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations less than $100
  • Donations between $100-$1k
  • Donations between $1k-$5k

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

I've been able to work with other organizations that send care packages to pediatric cancer patients to try to ensure that my lollipops are being sent directly to the kids to brighten their day. There are also nine hospitals around the country that are "Blue Lollipop Approved" and receive lollipops on a regular basis, including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, John Hopkins Children’s Center, and Children's Hospital of Orange County. I have worked with many other people to find ways to get them involved with The Blue Lollipop Project. The logo for my project was created by an art teacher who wanted to use her artistic talent in a way to help my project. I am constantly calling for help from kids to package lollipops and prepare materials for events. I've received messages from young people across the country asking how they can get involved and hold a "Blue Lollipop Fundraiser". When I am unable to attend an event to raise money, I know that I can count on my family and friends to be there for me. The Blue Lollipop Project, just like any other community project, could never be successful if it was a one-woman-job.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Recommended by others

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