When elementary schooler Davis told us how much he loves all sorts of video games, we knew he was ready for a special CCChampions adventure.
That's why we introduced him to Shawn Patton, a video game designer at Schell Games!
Did you know? Schell Games is the largest full-service education and entertainment game company in the country!
After one of Davis's visits to the hospital, Shawn invited Davis to his office to explore his world of video game making and video game testing. Davis would have tested Shawn's games all day if he could have!
Shawn was particularly excited to show off the Lego building Virtual Reality game that he helped to develop. Shawn was also excited to show off his amazing work place, complete with a new crow's nest, secret doors, and hidden rooms. Everyone loved the visit. Davis loved how all the employees' desks were littered with the coolest toys and it was hard to pull everyone away from the Virtual Reality machines (mom and dad included).
As you can tell, he's very serious at work!
Friendship moments like these are so special. Instead of trips to Pittsburgh being a time for pricks and prods, for procedures and news about his illness, friendships like these help it become a place where he has a special friend waiting just for him.
CCChampions question: If you could go anywhere in the world through virtual reality, where would you go?
Say hi to our newest kid, Parker! Parker is 9 years old, and cannot wait to become a train conductor!
Everything in his hospital room is trains. Model trains, train tracks, everything!
We were so excited to introduce him to Conductor Brian!
Conductor Brian visited Parker in Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and they instantly hit it off.
He was so excited when we told him we'd be bringing in Conductor Brian -- he and his mom practiced asking questions beforehand! We didn't get a great picture (Parker didn't want to lose any time posing for pictures), but it's only his first friendship moment of many during his cancer journey!
Parker is hoping to get approval from his doctors to visit his new friend at the tracks soon!
Back in February 2017, something special began.
For the first time, David, a newly diagnosed teen, got to meet his CCChampions role model Cam Johnson. Cam may have 18 inches on David, but that didn't get in the way of David's classic trash-talking.
David didn't wait long to challenge Cam in one of his favorite activities in the hospital -- nerf gun battles.
Cam would visit David throughout David's cancer journey, going on all sorts of adventures together. One of their favorites was a pizza eating competition at a restaurant around the corner from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
Want to guess who won?
As David got better and better and started heading home, Cam had some good news too! He was transferring to University of North Carolina to be a starter on their Men's Basketball team!
David and his family were super psyched for Cam, but David had a tough time saying goodbye. As David told us, he was just really going to miss his "brother Cam."
David followed Cam from hundreds of miles away, as Cam crushed the competition and got national recognition for his impact on the court for one of the best teams in the country.
But back home, David missed his CCChampions friend. They still texted each other and the friendship continued to grow, but trash-talking is done much better in person. Months passed, and David didn't know when he would see Cam next.
...until this week!
We're excited to share that these two superstars reunited for the first time in almost a year! They jumped right back in where they left off (if you look closely, you can see a pizza place in the background of the 2nd picture... ).
Cam shared stories of grad school at UNC, and David shared his excitement for his upcoming baseball season. The brothers were re-united.
Cam was there for David during the hardest of days. He gave David confidence, silliness, and lots of friendship. In so many ways, he helped David be a kid again.
As we always say, our friendships aren’t just a one-time event or hospital visit -- the impact of a CCChampions friendship lasts a lifetime.
Meet Gabe - an energetic and social kid with an unquenchable thirst for all things related to science and building. He is currently in a S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, and math) elementary school.
We met Gabe after he had a minor setback and was an inpatient at the hospital with a fever. He was almost literally bouncing off of the walls. We were happy to entertain him with a game of Jenga (one of his favorites) and a long discussion on everything going on outside his hospital window. Since that initial meeting, we have enjoyed visiting him during his clinic visits and taking trips to the Science Center and The Children’s Museum.
We hope to introduce Gabe to some robotics role models soon!
It is with lots of excitement that we wish one of our own, Dana, the best of luck in her next adventure on this #FriendshipFriday! Dana joined our CCChampions family just over three years ago, and has been one of the kindest, warmest, most passionate people we've ever met.
Dana began as a volunteer with us in college, becoming best friends with Anya during her cancer journey. The two of them shared so many laughs and fun times together, and the friendship blossomed into a friendship that we've modeled so many after in the years since.
Two years later, Dana joined our team as Administrative Assistant & Volunteer Coordinator, helping strengthen the volunteer program so more kids and volunteers could have friendships like hers with Anya.
Dana worked for six years in college and grad school studying physical training, health, and wellness, and we couldn't be more happy for her as she starts to fly in that field!
Three cheers for Dana!
(P.S. As you may have guessed, there's a job opening at CCChampions! www.CCChampions.com/assistant)
Several weeks ago, Kristie and her family were invited by Detective Becky to see the bomb squad! We matched Kristie with Detective Becky because of Kristie's interest in becoming a police officer one day. Kristie and her family had a great day visiting the Bomb Squad. She especially LOVED driving the robot!
Having the chance to visit the Bomb Squad and see everything behind the scenes, Kristie has had some pretty awesome visits thanks to Detective Becky.
Kristie was also able to visit the SWAT team, as well as the Pittsburgh River Rescue! She is certainly learning a lot about all the different pathways she can take as a police officer. Stay tuned to see what adventure Kristie goes on next!
Meet A'Mir - who has a strong love for football, which is why we matched him with a few of the Pitt Football players: Jimmy, Mike, & Jake! After their initial meeting at the Peterson Event Center, A'Mir claimed Pitt to be his favorite team. Although shy at first, A'Mir wanted to hang out with the boys again and hopefully attend a spring practice sometime soon. Lucky for him, the guys were all about making this happen!
After meeting his role models on campus, the guys scheduled a practice for A'Mir to come watch.
Practice was a lot of fun, having the chance to meet the rest of the team and even throw a couple of passes to some of the players. A'Mir enjoyed visiting the Pitt Football practice facility, and played a pickup game with the coach and his role models!
After attending a Saturday morning practice with the team, A'Mir also attended their spring Blue/Gold game last weekend!
A'Mir excitedly took the field as the guys geared up for their game at Heinz Field. He was able to enjoy the game from the media press box, and even got to meet reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year and former Pitt Panther, Aaron Donald! He also had the chance to meet the new Pitt Basketball coach - Jeff Chapel.
Needless to say, A'Mir has loved hanging out with Jimmy, Mike, and Jake so far. He can't wait to see them again soon and enjoy more Pitt Football events!
Meet Lance - a 20-year-old Pittsburgh sports fan, born and raised. However, his favorite Pittsburgh Penguins aren't a couple of players on the ice...they're Pittsburgh sports writers Matt Gajtka & Seth Rorabaugh!
A couple of weeks ago, Lance and his new friends had the chance to meet for the first time at the game and talk all things sports. Lance had many questions for Matt and Seth. Both men enjoyed how much Lance knew about the Pens, and especially about the two of them. Lance has followed both writers throughout their careers!
This was the first game Lance has been to in a very long time, and you could just tell he was loving every second of it.
~ Special thanks to AT&T for scoring Lance and his family some suite seats at the game! ~
This past weekend Madison and Dan didn't just meet at the Pittsburgh Penguin's ice hockey training arena in Cranberry, they were on it! Madison, along with CCChampions staff and friends, accompanied Para-Olympian, Dan McCoy, for an afternoon of fun and sled hockey!
Dan provided everyone with the appropriate gear and attire as everyone excitedly went onto the ice. To say the least, sled hockey is no joke! Everyone had the chance to slide around the rink while attempting to pass the puck to one another (which was not an easy task).
Madison and Dan have remained good friends and plan to meet again soon for more lessons!
Last week, Adrian met his new friends for the first time - Pitt Men's Soccer players, Will & Craig! The boys enjoyed an evening full of video games, talking, and most importantly, trading Pokemon cards. Adrian LOVES Pokemon, and it just so happens that Will and Craig were both big Pokemon fans when they were kids as well! They even brought Adrian a binder of all their old cards. Needless to say, Adrian was thrilled.
After their initial meeting, the boys were already planning another visit soon. Adrian, his brother Elias, Will and Craig spent the evening talking Pokemon cards and playing a video game called Minecraft. All of the boys are looking forward to getting together again.
If you love Pokemon as much as these boys do, comment and tell us your favorite!
Saturday is the LAST DAY to move your team up on the Leaderboard!
Help our kids build friendships of a lifetime by donating any amount as we close in on our annual fundraiser, March to Friendship. For every $250 each team raises, they are sponsoring one of the friendships in CCChampions - friendships and experiences just like Katie's, who spent a day at the rodeo!
Katie, 16-years old, loves horses, science, reading, & helping others feel good about themselves! After being diagnosed with cancer, Katie decided she wanted to do everything she can to help others like her. She now plans to study genetics & forensics, and would love to get multiple degrees. Most of all, Katie is a proud advocate for finding a cure & helping people overcome childhood cancer.
Spoiler Alert: Katie gets to attend the annual Janet Lynne McAllister Memorial Masquerade Ball this Saturday evening!
There is just ONE WEEK left of our annual Fundraiser, March to Friendship! Help move your team up on the Leaderboard, and more importantly help sponsor a child in CCChampions! Visit our March to Friendship page to see where your team stands in the rankings and how you can create friendship moments for our kids.
Making any donation helps sponsor a friendship just like Savannah's!
Savannah can be quite the 10 year-old chatterbox, and she surely loves arts and crafts, school, her brother Dylan, playing games, and her animals.
We met Savannah during one of her many lengthy stays at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Within just a few visits we learned so much about Savannah.
She especially loved showing us pictures and videos of her dog, Dixie. We spent lots of time keeping Savannah company at the hospital. When she finished treatment and was feeling stronger, we invited her to attend the North Washington Rodeo and take part in an event full of festivities.
Last August, Dreaming of Three and CCChampions sent Savannah to the North Washington Rodeo. Savannah was the honorary rodeo queen and had so much fun experiencing rodeo life!
Say hi to Sydney - who enjoyed watching movies during her long stays in the clinic, in particular Harry Potter.
We met Sydney when she was dressed up as a ladybug during a Halloween celebration at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Though Sydney was at first mighty shy around us, you would never know that now. We matched Sydney with our former intern Vic, who is studying to be a Child Life Specialist at the University of Pittsburgh. Vic and Sydney became fast friends and they love spending time together when Sydney is in the clinic at the hospital. Sydney and Vic can usually be found playing games, coloring, reading stories, and, of course, enjoying each other’s company with lots of smiles.
Comment below and share one of your favorite movies as a kid!
P.s. Head to our March to Friendship page to learn more about the fundraiser we have going on through the end of March! You can help sponsor friendships just like Syd's and Vic's!!
Check out some of the Strong Girls of CCChampions!
Click the buttons below to read about each girl's story, role models, and adventures!
Happy March, friends! March madness is just around the corner, which means the 2018 #MarchToFriendship is almost here! You can help us build friendships for all of the newly diagnosed kids in CCChampions in 2018!
Grab your family, friends, and coworkers and register your team now at www.MarchToFriendship.com. The deadline to register your team is Friday, March 9th!
For every $250 your team raises, you can sponsor a kid like Isabella, who was matched with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre performer, Patsy Maxim. Thanks to our donors from the 2017 March to Friendship, Isabella has been able to visit Patsy in action a couple of times. Recently, Isabella was able to warm up with Patsy before her show!
Our post last week featured Emma's fun-filled day in the kitchen with Chef John - see what Emma's Mom had to say in her own blog post about her daughter's amazing experience:
During hospital stays and clinic visits, Emma has been visited by wonderful folks from CCChampions. CCChampions (Connecting Children with Champions) was formed for the purpose of connecting kids who have been diagnosed with cancer with role models and friends in a field of their interest. From book store owners for kids who love to read, to sports broadcasters for kids who love sports announcing, to officers for kids who dream to become members of the police force, CCChampions has connected many kids with heroes and friends to bring a positive experience to their journey.
Emma's Friendship Champion, Jen, has spent time getting to know her interests and passions to plan something special for her. Not far into their conversations, she knew what would make a perfect day for Emma - the opportunity to shadow a chef at work. So, in spite of low counts, Emma spent several hours learning from an amazing chef in his kitchen today. Chef John of Parkhurst Dining taught her so much about flavor combinations, knife skills, and how to take a meal from common to exceptional. Emma thoroughly enjoyed every minute with Chef John and learned more than we could have imagined - it truly was an amazing day for her.
Even her exhaustion tonight couldn't dampen her excitement about the day that she, Rich, and Kate had with Chef John. (Ironically, the family member who needed Chef's help the most was still in "isolation" in an attempt to keep everyone healthy - maybe another time!) It was an unforgettable day, and we are grateful to Chef John and Jen, Emma's Friendship Champion, for making the day so perfect!
We are so grateful for the kindness of CCChampions and Chef John for Emma's unforgettable day. We are thankful she was healthy enough to enjoy the day.
Isaiah 41:10 Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
If you love to cook and be in the kitchen as much as Emma does, you’ll love reading about her day with Parkhurst Dining Chef, John Karbowski!
Emma couldn’t wait to meet Chef John and see all what he had planned for them to cook. She told us and her family how she couldn’t wait for this day to come! Luckily for Emma, she has spent a good amount of time in the kitchen at home since she is often cooking with her dad and older sister.
Little did Emma know, Chef John had three delicious meals ready for her to cook and bake! Ironically, Chef John chose some of Emma’s favorite foods - roasted corn soup and shrimp pot stickers. Needless to say, the excitement and smile on Emma’s face said it all. She was thrilled!
Chef John put everyone to work for a few hours since we had so many things to do and so much to learn! Emma’s Dad and sister joined in on the day of fun, as well as CCChampions staff members. Everyone was busy, especially Emma - who was quite an expert and definitely impressed Chef John!
Here is a sneak peak of some of the dishes that Chef John & Emma made, alongside family and CCChampions friends!
Colten was a reserved, shy kid when we first met him. We knew Colten was interested in sports and could use a good friend. We had two friends in mind for Colten - Matt and Ryan, players on the Pitt football team! Little did we know… Colten’s parents were both graduates of Penn State!
While there was a little poking fun at first, especially as the revival of the Pitt - Penn State game grew near, the competition didn’t stop Colten, Matt, and Ryan from becoming fast friends. Matt and Ryan were a little nervous at first - they weren’t sure if Colten liked them! But after the first two visits it was clear that Matt, Ryan, and Colten would be lifelong friends. They’ve been there waiting for Colten every time he had a visit scheduled at Children’s, and the three musketeers have had a lot of fun talking sports, playing an epic three-hour game of life, and just hanging out!
In spite of his family’s Penn State allegiance, Colten is now a converted Pitt football fan! We’ve even seen Colten’s Dad wearing a Pitt t-shirt around!
Tell us, are you a Pittsburgh Panther or Penn State Nittany Lion???
by Copley Fry
Before Easter, I had to the opportunity to meet Aiden and his mom while they were in for a short stay at CHP. Leading up to my visit, I had heard many wonderful things about Aiden from Jen, Coy, and Sidney. Needless to say, I was very excited to get to go play with him!
Before we got to the hospital Jen told me all about Aiden, his love for WWE, and what a little ball of energy he is. We weren't in the room for more than a minute and it was evident that this little boy LOVES WWE as much as I was told. How did I know this? He began to use the Easter Bunny crafts we brought for him as WWE action figures, body slams and all.
Seeing Aiden laugh as I pretended my bunny had been kicked off the bed and on to floor definitely brought a smile to my face. "Boys will be boys" is definitely the expression that comes to my mind when I think of Aiden! Once our bunnies were done taking a beating (literally, some of the bunnies were down to no ears!) Jen pulled "Where's Waldo?" out of her backpack-- one of Aiden's favorites.
Aiden flipped through "Where's Waldo?" and found Waldo before I did on almost every page. Which left me speechless because I had just gotten schooled by a six year old! After we found Waldo, two times through to be exact, we played a couple rounds of matching. I was again blown away when I asked him how many matches he had found and he counted them for me with ease, all the way to eight.
I'm always so amazed when I get to meet the boys and girls of CCChampions and Aiden is no exception. His mom told us about how well he is doing school and that he is becoming quite the ladies man among the girls in kindergarten (not to my surprise, of course).
It's moments like these that make me realize how lucky I am to be involved with CCChampions. It's so fulfilling to know that an hour of "Where's Waldo?" and WWE, Easter Bunny addition, put a smile on Aiden's face and made him giggle the entire time.
But what's even more amazing is that a six-year-old can leave me smiling ear to ear just by being himself.
Sean is a 15 year-old from Pittsburgh, and he is a serious sports fan! As soon as we met him, he told us that he wanted to be a sports broadcaster. He had gotten some practice announcing girls volleyball games at his high school and he knew it was what he wanted to do for a career. Luckily, we had the perfect role model for Sean - Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster and play by play announcer, Joe Block!
On their first visit, Joe and Sean spent over two hours chatting about EVERYTHING - from sports, to broadcasting careers, to school. Joe told Sean about how he got started and the broadcasters who helped him along the way. He even shared some secrets about how he gets familiar with the players before games and gave Sean some tips about what he could do to start preparing for his own career in broadcasting.
Sean and Joe are anxiously awaiting baseball season, where they hope to spend some time together in the press box announcing games and cheering on the buccos!
For those of you who were at our Night of Inspiration this past September, Sean might look familiar since he was our emcee of the night and did an OUTSTANDING job! He is definitely heading down the right career path!
Syd is incredibly shy and quiet, so it takes her a while to warm up to new friends! But that didn’t scare our Little Champs Role Model, Vic -- she was up to the challenge!
The first day we were hoping to connect Syd and Vic, Syd’s mom said to us, “You can bring Vic, but I can’t guarantee that Syd will talk to her.” Lucky for us, Syd was in a great mood that day -- she was social and friendly, and she took to Vic immediately! We couldn’t believe how quickly their friendship formed!
Ever since that first meeting, Vic and Syd have spent lots of time together doing puzzles, playing in the playroom, and reading. As Syd got older, Vic started helping her with homework, too! The best part, however, was how excited Syd got every time she knew Vic was coming to visit! She isn’t quite as shy anymore, and always would ask her parents when Vic would be there!
When we first met Austin, he was diligently writing letters to his three younger siblings, while he was in Pittsburgh receiving inpatient treatment at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Though we certainly didn’t want to interrupt his creative process, he and his mom, Marie, invited us into his room to chat. Within the first few minutes of our conversation, we learned that Austin is an avid reader, to say the least! He loves all sorts of books, especially biographies and other types of non-fiction. Austin and his mom absolutely adore reading and discussing together and Austin is planning on opening a bookstore when he grows up. It’s the perfect occupation for a guy who can always be found with his nose in a book.
That's when we introduced Austin to his new friend Lesley. Lesley is the owner of the East End Book Exchange, a bookstore in Bloomfield, just a few blocks from Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Prior to meeting Austin, Lesley sent him a note and a copy of one of her favorite books, The Pearl, by John Steinbeck. Austin and his mom were about halfway through The Pearl at the time of their get together, so the three of them had tons to talk about, in addition to getting to know one another. Austin asked Lesley lots of questions about her store and how she got started. She was happy to share her experiences with him.
What's your favorite book to read?! Leave us a comment below!
Angelika has a wonderful, bubbly personality, and an incredible passion for food. Our Little Champs volunteers, Copley and Courtney, would often find Angelika in her room watching the Food Network. So, we thought Chef Geoff, the Executive Chef for the Pittsburgh Penguins, would be a perfect match for Angelika!
At their first meeting both Angelika and Chef Geoff were filled with a lot of nervous excitement! But after spending some time touring the Penguins facility together they lost the nervousness and were just plain excited - they couldn’t wait to start cooking! Chef Geoff taught Angelika some of his best cooking tips and then enlisted her as his Sous Chef for the day. They worked side by side in the kitchen for well over an hour preparing a sensational meal of hanger steak, purple potato hash, and patty pan squash with truffle demi glace. They both went home that night with happy hearts and fully bellies!
What's your New Year's Resolution for 2018??? If it's to eat a healthy and nutritious meal, Chef Geoff has you covered!
Meet Yaheim, who loves football, and could not wait to meet a member of the legendary Steel Curtain Defense. During their first meeting, J.T. described his childhood growing up in the south. He told Yahiem and his family how he would march for equality alongside Martin Luther King Jr. The captivating story truly formed a bridge between generations.
J.T. is no stranger to adversity. He worked hard to break the color barriers by becoming the first African American to play football at Florida State University. In 1973, J.T. was drafted in the very first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Today, J.T. is the owner of the Black-N-Gold Cheesecake Company. Additionally, J.T. serves as a deacon and a Sunday school teacher at Macedonia Church of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.
J.T. Thomas, who has overcome so much adversity, looked at Yaheim and told him that he was a warrior.
The staff, children, and families of CCChampions would like to wish you and your family/friends a Happy New Year!
Huge Thank You to Camden this year for providing gifts for the kids of Beverly's Birthdays! His extraordinary gift wrapping (and toy shopping) is giving more than just gifts under the tree, but the Gift of Giving.
Camden was four when he joined our CCChampions family. For two years, he was in the hospital instead of preschool with kids his age. When our founder Sidney met Camden (a huge WWE fan), they shared wrestling moves and instantly hit it off. Instead of a wrestler, though, Camden's parents asked if Sidney could be their son’s "first friend." Years later, Camden could be heard telling his friends about his "WWE friend, Sidney." Their friendship continues to this day.
Tell Us: In what ways did you give back this holiday season?
~Everyone at CCChampions wishes you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!~
Types of Friendships