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LOCAL News :: Children & Education : Everyday Life : Kansas City : Missouri

Giving Back

Amanda Vandivert, from Kansas City Missouri, tells her childhood story of battling cancer and now working with the Missouri State fundraiser for St. Jude's Children Hospital this year.
Amanda Vandivert’s childhood was different from most kids. One of her fonder memories is racing her childhood friend, Maggie, down the hallways of Children’s Mercy Hospital climbed on top of the IV tray they were attached to. At three-years old, Amanda was diagnosed with Hepatoelastoma, also known as liver cancer.
Amanda has many good and bad memories of her time spent at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
“The hospital had a program called “Puppy Love”, where they would bring in dogs and animals for us to play with…I remember one big dog that was my favorite.” Amanda said the hospital does not do the “Puppy Love” program anymore due to a particular rabbit incident.
“The rabbit chewed through a kid’s hoodie string, so they got rid of the program,” she said.
Another early childhood memory Amanda has is yelling and screaming as the nurses held her down to do various tests and blood work. “I don’t remember the whole thing, but I do have vivid memories of feeding tubes being shoved down my nose.”
Unlike her childhood friend Maggie, Amanda lives to tell about her experience with cancer.
She does not remember all of their names, but she remembers the faces of her

friends she had when she was in the hospital. “A lot of them died,” she said, “it is really

Amanda feels fortunate to live her life free of cancer, but she continues to battle many health problems.
The cancer that originated in Amanda’s liver as a child, later spread to her lungs and gallbladder. She endured eight rounds of chemotherapy, had three-fourths of her liver removed, and her gal bladder removed.
At the time, her family carried insurance through a small company. By the end of her year chemotherapy treatment, her medical bill was approximately $800,000. The insurance company went bankrupt.
During her time with cancer, Amanda participated in many fundraising events. She has memories of throwing the first pitch at a Kansas City Royals game when she was only four-years old.
“I remember walking out on the field and throwing the ball really really hard…thinking that it would actually reach the catcher”. She said everyone in the stadium cheered for her. However, the ball landed far from the catcher.
“I don’t know who the pitcher was at the time, but he was very famous. My family still has posters of me and the pitcher in our attic that were sold for fundraising,” she said.
Now, Amanda is a college student at Missouri State University. She spends her time trying to give back to those who helped her during her treatment. She also hopes to help other children who are dealing with catastrophic diseases. Amanda is on the Executive Board for the Up ‘til Dawn committee at Missouri State University.

Up ‘til Dawn is a student run program hosted by universities across the country to
raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital located in Memphis, Tennessee. The program has already raised around $3 million for the hospital. This is the first year Missouri State University participated in the program.
St. Jude’s treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases and conducts research to find cures. The hospital covers the costs of the treatment for the children, the transportation to get to the hospital, and provides living arrangements for the families during treatment.
“It is such a great cause, because both treatment and research is involved,” said Kristin Kirchoff, another member of the Up ‘til Dawn Executive Board. Like Amanda, Kristin was eager to get involved with the program.
Kristin and Amanda applied for the Executive Board with over 40 other students. The students filled out an application and participated in an interview. The Board originally planned to have ten members, but because of the large number of applicants 25 students are now on the Board.
“The fact that so many people from Missouri State applied says a lot about our Greek community,” said Kristin. “St. Jude’s told us that some universities had a hard time even getting people on the Executive Board.”
Kristin attended “St. Jude University” with two other students from Missouri State over the summer. “St. Jude University” is a four day program where students attend various seminars teaching them how to facilitate Up ‘til Dawn at their university. They also are given ideas on what fundraising programs to hold during the year.
Kristin met many patients during the program. Everyday at breakfast the staff introduced kids to Kristin. “Every child gave me chills; all were so positive and appreciated the fact that our university was doing this for them,” she said.
“St. Jude’s constantly told us to keep a specific child’s story in our heads when we are doing the fundraising events, especially when times get tough…being on the Executive Board is a big job, and can be stressful, but it is so rewarding,” she added.
Kristin remembers a little girl named Ally at the hospital. Ally was nine-months old when she was diagnosed, and is now five. Ally’s parents told Kristin that Ally’s best friend had recently died while in the hospital. They also said the money raised for treatment and research could prevent Ally’s friends from dying. “It is hard because the children get very close to each other, and a lot of their friends don’t make it,” said Kristin.
The first Up ‘til Dawn fundraising event at Missouri State was a letter writing campaign to send out requests for donations to family and friends of students. Around 600 students met on campus at the Blair-Shannon Dining Hall. The students enjoyed music and food while writing over 1,900 letters.
“St. Jude’s recognized Missouri State as “Star of the Week” because we did so well,” said Kristin. Kristin explained that the “Star of the Week” is a recognition mentioned in the St. Jude’s newsletter. At the end of January everyone will find out how much money they raised by sending out the letters.
The majority of the students who attended were part of Greek Organizations on campus. “This year all of the Executive members are Greek because it is the first time Missouri State has participated in Up ‘til Dawn,” Kristin said. “Because there is a large number of Greeks on campus, we knew it would be successful if they were all involved, next year anyone can be on the Executive Board.”
Amanda, a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority, thinks that it is great to have Greeks involved with Up ‘til Dawn.
“A lot of times Greek organizations only get recognized for negative things that have happened. They don’t always have the best reputation. Now we are showing the Springfield community that we do a lot of good stuff,” said Amanda.
Up ‘til Dawn held many fundraising events at the beginning of the school year. Some of these events included a dodge ball tournament, donations for gift wrapping, and an event held at Panera Bread Company.
“We teamed up with Panera Bread Company for two days in September,” Amanda said. “10 percent of the profits that Panera received those two days went to our St. Jude’s fund.”
Panera reported to the Up ‘til Dawn Executive Board that it was their most successful fundraising event they had ever participated in.
Amanda said she enjoys the fundraising events despite the work. She knows from experience that St. Jude’s is an excellent hospital. Amanda was admitted into St. Jude’s when she was 15 because she had low magnesium levels.
“When I was going through chemotherapy they gave me too much and it damaged my kidneys. It was a new type of chemo and I was only the third person in the U.S. to receive it.” Amanda explained that since it was a new treatment, the doctors were still learning how to properly give it to patients. “Now my body doesn’t hold minerals and that makes my magnesium level very low,” Amanda said. She went to St. Jude’s to test out different ways to raise her magnesium level.
“The hospital was very pretty and the doctors were so nice, it was a lot bigger than Children’s Mercy,” Amanda said. Unfortunately, the methods they tried on Amanda did not help her health problems. Amanda can only raise her magnesium level with an IV.
“It’s hard because I cannot be hooked up to an IV my entire life,” she said. Amanda’s magnesium level is constantly around .5 or .6. “Technically your heart is supposed to stop beating when your level is below .6, but my body is so used to it that it has adapted.”
Many students Amanda attends college with have no idea she has such health problems.
“I’m not well, but it doesn’t stop me from doing what I want to do,” Amanda added. She said that every time she gets sick she has to be admitted into the hospital, and that is sometimes scary for her.
“When your magnesium level gets really low, your body basically shuts down everything. My hands and legs get really stiff and I basically curl up into a ball. I cannot control my body…that is when things get scary,” she said. Amanda hopes in the future
St. Jude’s will be able to find treatments for children with similar health problems.
Amanda said that she was very fortunate during her childhood treatments. “Not all families have insurance like mine did, and treatment is very expensive. St. Jude’s pays for children’s treatment,” Amanda said.
Kristin did not have an experience like Amanda, and she does not know anyone with cancer. However, she feels that raising money for such treatment could in the future save a loved one’s life. “No matter if you know someone or not with cancer or disease, donating money makes an investment in the future of your family and friends,” Kristin said. “Someone you know may get a disease that these children have.”
The final Up ‘til Dawn event is January 26 at the Shrine Mosque from 8pm until 2 am. Live bands, inflatable’s, games, and prizes will be part of the entertainment. Also, the Executive Board will announce the exact amount of money raised overall, and the amount raised by each student who participated in the letter writing campaign.
“It will be so exciting to find out just how much our hard work paid off,” Amanda said. Amanda does not know if she will be on the Up ‘til Dawn Executive Board again, but she will continue to help raise money for the funds.
“I can already tell that we did incredibly well, that is great for this being our first year,” Amanda said. “Hopefully we will do better and better in the future.”
Being on the Up ‘til Dawn Executive Board is a first step in giving back for Amanda. She plans on attending nursing school at either St. John’s or Cox hospital next fall. After earning her degree, she wants to work in the chemotherapy clinic where she was treated at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
“One of my sorority sister’s mom was my nurse when I went through treatment. I remember her very well and I want to do for children what she did for me,” Amanda said.

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Re: Giving Back

Ungrateful Poor Still Hungry After Food Drive

By, Angie

Food Drive

Ungrateful Poor Still Hungry After Food Drive

some where in the back woods of Canada - Community Leaders in this upscale hamlet were appalled today to learn that depite last week's successful community canned food drive, The poor remained hungry. "We worked and worked, but there just seems to be no pleasing some people," said homemaker Elaine Wist, president of the whinniamucka Lions Club. One donor was aghast. "I gave a whole case of beef stew," said April Morovski. "That's what they, eat, stew, right?" Next year the community plans to hold a clothing drive instead. "Most of the girls have lots of things to get rid of," said Wist. "I have a whole bunch of last year's stuff that's, like, ick."

"By, Angie"




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