MISSION: The goal is clear: The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS) works to better the lives of young cancer patients and their families by providing immediate assistance. “We are not going to duplicate the services of other national nonprofits, which mostly deal with research,” says president and CEO Mark Stolze. “Our focus is to help children who need assistance now.”
HISTORY: In 1986, Stolze and his wife, Carol, visited a friend in the hospital. While they were visiting, the friend, who had Hodgkin's disease, began to cry. “And she said, Whether I live or I die, my family will always be in debt.” At the time, Stolze says the necessary treatment was experimental, so her insurance would not cover it.
After speaking with the head of the bone marrow transplant unit, Stolze came to understand that it was not uncommon for patients to be turned away because of the cost—including more than 30 children that year alone.
Assistance was swift, as Stolze estimates that “within 30 days, we developed the plans, established a corporation, filled for the licenses and registrations, applied for the 501(c)3…” he says, continuing to list the multitude of steps required to start a nonprofit. “In our first year, we funded eight bone marrow transplants. Throughout the years, we’ve continued to develop sources of revenue, and increase the amount of children we help.”
COMMUNITY IMPACT: The NCCS provides assistance through a multitude of programs, both nationally and internationally. In the U.S., the Pediatric Oncology Program matches eligible families with a dedicated case manager. Additionally, the Pediatric Oncology Program works to keep families financially afloat during the battle with cancer by providing assistance for travel, lodging, meals, non-insurance-covered medical expenses and more. “Over the past 26 years, we’ve handed out more than $55 million to approximately 34,000 children nationwide.”
Outside of the U.S., the NCCS works to assist children through the Global Outreach Program; this branch of the organization provides donated medical supplies and cancer treatment medication to facilities in 41 countries. A third program works with children after the cancer has been treated, as well as with healthcare professionals and families, to provide educational resources and scholarships. “Beyond The Cure deals with the long-term issues associated with treatment,” explains Stolze. “Once NCCS becomes involved with a child, we’re involved with them for life.”
ALVIN K. STOLZE INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN AWARD DINNER, NOV. 23, 2013, AT THE HYATT REGENCY ST. LOUIS AT THE ARCH.
Academy Award-winning actress and bestselling author Shirley MacLaine will headline this NCCS event, where the Humanitarian, Corporate Philanthropy and Medical Legacy awards will be presented.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED: To find out more about the National Children’s Cancer Society, call 241-1600 or visit thenccs.org.
ON THE BOARD: SUE ENGELHARDT
“You hear so much about cancer research, but this was the first time I’d heard about an organization that helped the children and families once they had been diagnosed,” says NCCS board secretary and treasurer Sue Engelhardt. A community volunteer and trustee of the Engelhardt Family Foundation, Engelhardt estimates she has been with NCCS for about nine years. She notes the Engelhardt Family Foundation gives to a variety of causes, “but education seems to be one that is very important to the whole family.”
Engelhardt says the effects of cancer treatment can set a child back in regards to education. Additionally, she explains that many families have depleted their funds during treatment, making college out of reach. “You read some of these essays and applications, and you’re brought to tears as to what they’ve overcome,” she says of NCCS' Beyond The Cure Scholarship Program, noting that it has given almost half a million dollars in scholarships since 2008.
In addition to her work with NCCS, Engelhardt serves as Opera Theatre of Saint Louis board vice-chair and St. Louis Arc vice-chair of events and corporate outreach, as well as board member for Voices for Children and The Sheldon Concert Hall. Previously, she has served on the boards of COCA, Epworth Children's and Family Services, Edgewood Children's Center, John Burroughs School and Rossman School.