We are Cancer Kids First.
Cancer Kids First is a certified 501(c)(3) nonprofit working towards normalizing the hospital environment and providing a loving community for pediatric cancer patients through our five service programs and two volunteer teams. Through our worldwide events, fundraisers, chapters, and podcast, CKF is advocating for and assisting the childhood cancer community. From our members to our volunteers, we are devoted to the mission of helping as many patients as we can.
Cancer Kids First was founded by Olivia Zhang at the age of 14 after losing two loved ones to cancer.
When her grandfather was diagnosed with cancer during her middle school years, Olivia channeled her passion for art to raise money to fund her grandfather's cancer treatments. From binder covers to bookmarks, Olivia hand-crafted pieces to sell to her classmates and eventually moved her endeavors to social media.
In 7th grade, Olivia's after-school elementary school teacher, who became her closest confidant, was diagnosed with breast cancer. This pushed her efforts to raise money for their medical care and childhood cancer research by selling crafts such as paintings and handmade jewelry. Unfortunately, both her grandfather and elementary school teacher passed away the following year. Their deaths affected her and her family greatly. Though she continued donating funds to research hospitals such as St. Jude’s, Olivia hoped to channel her grief into making a more tangible impact.
Wishing to mirror her teacher and grandfather, who both tirelessly devoted their lives to serving children, Olivia founded the nonprofit Cancer Kids First in December of 2019. She sought to foster the same environment for these children that her teacher and grandfather had created for her. CKF started small, with a few members in Virginia, but grew steadily.
In 2021, with the onslaught of the pandemic, Olivia and her team worked tirelessly to transition CKF's service programs, events and fundraisers, and outreach to a fully virtual format. From there, unimaginable growth blossomed.
Today, as the world’s largest youth-led nonprofit organization aiding kids with cancer, Olivia looks back and reflects on CKF's journey four years ago: "Cancer Kids First has changed my life—there are no words for how much love I have for this organization. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we could become what we are today. I am so incredibly proud and grateful for every CKF volunteer, team member, partner, mentor, and supporter I have met along this whirlwind journey. Most importantly, I am immensely thankful to CKF for giving me the opportunity to meet the bravest and strongest patients and families, as well as exceptionally kind, talented, and passionate youth. This organization has shaped me into the person I am today, and it will forever hold a special place in my heart. I cannot wait to see what we grow into!
Cancer Kids First's founder and volunteers now dedicate their lives to helping kids battling this disease.