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 three volunteer teams. Through our worldwide events, social media, and podcast, CKF is advocating for 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 high school student Olivia Zhang at the age of 14. She had hoped to honor two of her loved ones while spreading love to a vulnerable community.
Starting in 6th grade, Olivia utilized 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.
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 cancer research by selling crafts such as paintings and handmade jewelry on social media. Unfortunately, both her grandfather and elementary school teacher passed away the following year. Their deaths affected her and her family greatly, and Olivia channeled her grief into making a 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 largest international youth-led nonprofit organization aiding kids with cancer around the world, Olivia looks back and reflects on CKF's journey three 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 thankful for every CKF volunteer, team member, partner, mentor, and supporter I have met along this whirlwind journey. And, I am immensely grateful to CKF for giving me the chance to meet the bravest and strongest patients and families, as well as exceptionally kind 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.