“Cancer Fears Me.” These three words strung together have the audacity to put the “C” word in its place. It’s original and pretty simple really: Cancer Fears Me.
Powerful words for a mother of three to come up with as she shuffles her children to and from various activities. This is not just any mother though. This is Sharon Perfetti, Executive Director and co-founder of the Cool Kids Campaign. Her mission and that of the Cool Kids Campaign is about helping and giving. It’s about working with kids who’ve been given a diagnosis of cancer. It’s about always thinking and doing, even if and when that light bulb moment hits her in the car.
“It just came to me. I spend so much time seeing these families and fear is an over-riding emotion,” Perfetti said, lamenting the many concerns and issues that are suddenly thrust upon the families she deals with day in and day out. “What’s going to happen, how quickly is it going to spread?” It’s hard to even imagine, let alone happen to a child.
Having seen and heard the “Cancer Sucks” slogan before, Perfetti felt it might not be as appropriate for the younger ones. She wanted to figure out a way to clean it up and spin it into something positive. “I wanted to make it more empowering, like how am I going to win?”
During such turbulent times these words can breathe hope into a fight for life. They are simple and poignant (and are a registered trademark of Cool Kids Campaign). And they are about to bust out into their own line of apparel with motivational inspired t-shirts. The cool slogan is celebrated on T-shirts (both long and short sleeve), sweatshirts and caps of different kinds and other merchandise.
In fact, while some of the clothes were being printed at Thunder Creek, Steve Kropkowski of Bel Air who works there, took notice. He needed to know who was responsible. No sooner did he find out was when he was picking up some shirts from Perfetti.
“I thought it was a great idea and it’s a great campaign for awareness,” Kropkowski said. Steve’s wife, Becky has a brain injury that later became a tumor (stage 3) and has been dealing with cancer since the beginning of 2006. The Kropkowskis have two children, 5-year-old Emily and 2-year-old Zachary. The family works hard at not letting the battle beat them, savoring the moments and staying busy with things they enjoy like playing golf and family time. They’ve learned to adjust and stay positive which can also be a struggle. However, they are grateful for the tremendous support system of family and friends.
On top of the stressors of dealing with such an illness, the mortgage still needs to be paid and bills can stack up. “My wife was out of work for 8 months and we got into a lot of debt.” Kropkowski said. Things can, and often do, get tight.
In order to help with the finances, Steve stepped up and organized a bull roast and a golf outing. In addition, the Waffle House in Forest Hill held a surprise fundraiser for the Kropkwoskis – giving the family the proceeds from one day’s business. Steve has set these monies aside for his children’s future.
The thing is, even before Becky was diagnosed, Steve was active in raising money for the American Cancer Society. He DJs for fun and will often be used for charity events like Relay for Life. He seems to be that way; a giver.
The Kropkowski motto has become “let’s live for today, not tomorrow and live for two weeks from now and not two years.” Cancer fears the Kropkowski family for sure.
Still, not everyone is as ambitious and resourceful as Steve Kropkowski. And with Perfetti churning up fresh ideas, she recognizes this. With Cool Kids Designated Patient Fundraising, Perfetti has put together a ready-made fundraiser that couldn’t be any simpler.
“People can get catalogs [of the Cancer Fears Me Merchandise and Apparel Line] and order forms and send all the sales to us.” From that point on, Perfetti takes care of everything. 25% off of the profit goes directly back to the family.
“The goal is it to get that number up to 50% but for now we just can’t do it.” This patient program is for both adults and pediatric patients and Perfetti will mail checks directly to the homes. The remaining proceeds go directly to help Cool Kids Programs such as the Cool Kids Care Packages which are sent directly to the patients’ homes to make life a little more fun. These packages are stuffed with games and toys as requested.
This new campaign, Cancer Fears Me, is in the final stages of completion. The catalog is on the printing presses right now. There is a web site that is being fine-tuned. Perfetti and company are very excited for the roll-out.
This is just another way for family and friends to support them [cancer patients] emotionally.” Perfetti said, noting that the families have responded very well. Sounds like she might be on to a winner, alright.
For more information, check out www.coolkidscampaign.org.