The Totally Buffalo Festival is right around the corner and we are thrilled that a portion of proceeds from the event will go to Kaely’s Kindness Foundation.
One thing is certain – there is no shortage of wonderful charities in Western New York. So many organizations that are helping others. One of our favorites is Kaely’s Kindness.
Founded by Kaely Kwitek in 2012, Kaely’s Kindness provides peer and social support for teenage girls fighting cancer. It can be a lonely thing – as Kaely found out when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, “It’s important to me because I know that I needed that peer support from someone else to really fight- I wasn’t too motivated and felt very alone at first and once I met Emily it changed my outlook on life and I knew I had to fight.”
They are a squad in the best way possible. The girls get together for special occasions; they are a social club for teen girls who are living with or survivors of cancer. They do all kinds of things together; from movies to shopping.
Today, Kaely is a healthy, college graduate – living her best life and still helping other girls who are where’s she’s been, “I also am so lucky to have an amazing support system and since I know not everyone can have that, it’s my job to try to help so no one is fighting alone because at a time when we are fighting for our lives we don’t need to be alone.”
The truth is, there’s not much worse than feeling alone, especially when facing something as horrible as cancer. These girls know and feel things that the rest of us never will. It’s certainly a club that you hope to never join, but Kaely’s Kindness is there if you need them. They fight for these girls. They fight with these girls. And they are heartbroken when they lose one of their girls.
At their annual luncheon, they honored those lost. Ten chairs with only a photo of a beautiful life lost. Ten girls. Kaely’s Kindness does hold grief sessions for survivors, but death is hard for any adult to understand, imagine how difficult it is for these young girls. Kaely says it’s gut-wrenching, “I think about the girls we have lost all the time. It scares me but at the same time it makes me have survivors guilt, it makes it really hard to stay in the cancer world but also reminds me how important the work we do is.”
The work is so important. It’s vital. Not only to the girls, but to the community as well. They are on the front lines, bringing awareness and fighting for more than four. They shine a light on the fact that childhood cancer is incredibly UNDER FUNDED, UNDER RESEARCHED and really not talked about very often. Only 4 percent of money raised for cancer research goes to help fight and cure pediatric cancer. 4 percent.
They also work incredibly hard to keep the memory of those lost, alive. “We never want one of our teens forgotten, it becomes a critical part of our mission to ensure that their memory goes on within each and every one of us which is hard but helps us process it all.”
It takes a village or a dedicated, amazing group of beautiful teenagers to bring change, “It is important to continue the mission on a more mental health level too, because we recognize a correlation between mental health and peer support, we also want to continue the mission because we see the isolation after diagnosis and long-term treatment.” Kaely is clearly wise beyond her years, something else that comes with childhood cancer. And Kaely is hands on. She loves her girls and it shows.
“We are like a family, we become very close, each loss affects each and every one of us, but it also encourages us to continue the fight and to make sure that more than four is being donated for pediatric cancer research.”
The Totally Buffalo Festival is May 26th from 12 to 8 p.m. at Buffalo Riverworks, 359 Ganson Street, Buffalo. MORE INFO HERE.
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