Shred Kids’ Cancer is an organization created by kids to help raise awareness and money for children’s cancer research. Teagan Stedman was inspired to start the organization when his friend Alex was diagnosed with cancer.
Honest interviewed Teagan, who is the chairman as well as the founder of Shred Kids’ Cancer, to find out more about the charitable work of his non-profit.
Pictured: Shred Kids’ Cancer presents a check to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for children’s cancer research.
Q. What was your motive to start SKC?
A. My motive to start Shred Kids’ Cancer was to help and support my friend Alex as he battled Non-Hodgkins lymphoma and to benefit other kids with cancer by raising money for pediatric cancer research. I looked into ways of helping out other organizations, but there really weren’t any opportunities for kids my age (I was 8 years old at the time). I was determined to do something to help him feel less isolated and show him that his friends were there for him. Inspired by Alex’s love of music and playing bass guitar, I thought a concert with kid’s bands (called Shredfest) would be a cool way of showing Alex we were all there for him trying to Shred Kids’ Cancer. I wanted to start something that would allow young kids to feel like they can do something to help with this cause and commit to it over the long term. And I wanted to raise money for pediatric cancer research so that it would get to the root of the problem and could benefit all kids affected.
This cause is so urgent because of the lack of attention it receives. Kids’ cancer is an orphan disease. Only 4% of the National Cancer Institutes’ funding (the primary source of funding for all cancer clinical trials) is directed to pediatric cancer. Most people do not know that pediatric cancer is different than adult cancers — they are systematically different and must be treated differently. Right now kids must use adult treatments for cancer, and in the past 20 years only one new drug has been approved by the FDA. My primary motive is to help make the public aware of this issue and help kids who so desperately need better treatment.
Pictured: The crowd at Shredfest.
Q. Why is it important to get kids involved in non-profit work?
A. It is important to get kids involved in non-profit work because kids can learn from two different aspects. The first is the giving back, being a part of your community, and supporting each other. It always makes people feel good to help others. When kids start out doing non-profit work at an early age, it can give them a foundation to do charity work in the future, just like a good habit. The second skill set you can gain when getting involved with a non-profit, at least with our organization, is learning how to run a business. In our organization, kids are learning how to run board meetings, write letters asking for donations, contact local businesses asking for sponsorships, leading other volunteers, and helping organize events. Besides just the personal benefits of getting real-world business experience, kids involved in non-profit work can really help people in need in knowing that they are supported and being looked out for by their peers. This is the whole concept of kids helping kids, an aspect of our organization that I have highlighted since the beginning.
Q. How can people (and kids specifically) get involved with your organization?
A. There are many ways that people, and specifically kids, can get involved with Shred Kids’ Cancer. One way to help would be to attend or volunteer at our next event. Our two biggest events throughout the year are Shredfest — the battle of the bands fundraiser held at the House of Blues on March, 15 2014 — and Rock the Run, a 5k/10k/kids run event we hold in September. You can always donate through our Web site at shredkidscancer.org. If you are really interested in Shred Kids’ Cancer and want to make a huge impact but are not in the Los Angeles area, start your own chapter of Shred Kids’ Cancer in your area by contacting us at email@example.com. We are an official charity of the ASICS LA Marathon and have a marathon/half marathon relay team, where you can also raise money to run. If you are not into running, you can wear a bald cap for a day on Be Bold, Be Bald day (the last Friday in October) to raise awareness. Kids can also make something to sell on the Shredstore, as my younger brother has made survival bracelets we call ShredStraps. You can sell something on our ebay giving works program (put an item up for sale and a portion of the proceeds goes directly to Shred Kids’ Cancer) or sign-up to shop via Goodsearch and help with microdonations by playing a game on Giveaheart.org. Or come up with a new idea. There are many other ways to help listed on our Web site.
Pictured: The community comes out to support Shred Kids’ Cancer at the Rock the Run event on Westlake Boulevard.
Q. What was your most memorable moment during your work with Shred Kids’ Cancer?
A. My most memorable moment during my work with Shred Kids’ Cancer was probably when Dr. Federman, the oncologist who we granted research money to at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA for the first couple years, told us that the money we donate, no matter how little, is making a real difference, and that it is called seed funding. Seed funding is used to pay for small clinical trials that collect useful data on treatments so that researchers can eventually receive huge million dollar grants from larger organizations to really get the ball rolling with their specific research/treatment plan. This made me realize that the grants we give, although they may be small in size, really do matter, and what we are doing is making a true impact, that our work isn’t insignificant.
Q. Getting a non-profit up and running can be hard work. Do you have any advice for someone of any age looking to start their own organization?
A. Yes, starting a non-profit and keeping it running is hard work and it can take a long time, but that shouldn’t discourage anyone from trying. I was able to start something because nothing else like it existed in my area. If you want to start your own organization, make sure you find a cause you truly believe in and something that you are willing to commit to. To start off, you may also want to try partnering with another organization to get some experience with the cause you are thinking about starting an organization for. Then make your organization unique, so you are offering a solution to serve a new need or create a new fun twist. Once you decide to start your own non-profit, reach out to your friends and family for help — doing everything by yourself can be really challenging, and the more of the community you get involved in your cause, the more of an impact you’ll make. Don’t be intimidated by making your organization “official.” I was able to research and figure out how to become a 501c3 without using any lawyers, so you can too! Finally, never give up on your organization. At times, you may want to quit, you may feel like your work isn’t getting anywhere, but your non-profit may just be gradually growing, invisible to you, while still making progress. If you give up on your non-profit, you give up on all the effort you put in to build it. As long as you are still making a difference, your organization will be a success.