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.
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???
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 Yaheim 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!~
With all of this snow in Pittsburgh, staying active indoors is the way to go! With basketball season underway, here's a throwback to when we matched Jayme with the Duquesne Women's Basketball team!
Standing five foot seven at only ten years old, basketball is in Jayme’s blood. That's why we thought that the Duquesne Women's Basketball team would be a perfect match for her!
Besides basketball Jayme loves being a member of the HYAA Cheer Squad, spearheading petitions for the NFL and MLB to wear gold during September to raise awareness of childhood cancer, and riding her four wheeler.
The ladies on The Duquesne Women's Basketball team have been incredible friends to Jayme and her family. The women have visited Jayme in the hospital and even invited her to join them for practice. Jayme was an honorary side-line coach for a game during season, and her cheer squad will also get to be the spirit tunnel. This brought a particularly big smile to Jayme’s face.
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Meet Madison - a sweet, hockey-loving girl from outside of Pittsburgh! In addition to watching hockey, she loves playing the NHL video game! We had a great idea for a match for Madison -- Dan McCoy, a Paralympic sled hockey world champion, gold medalist, and MVP!
Madison and Dan hit it off right away. They bonded over their Pittsburgh roots and love of hockey. Dan is from Fox Chapel, and a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. He told Madison about his experiences playing sled hockey and impressed Madison with his stories of playing with some of the Pittsburgh Penguins! Madison loved her Pittsburgh Penguins even more when she learned that Sidney Crosby got in a sled to learn what it was like to play like Dan! The best part was when Dan let Madison try on his gold medal!
Dan is hoping to get Madison out to the rink someday soon so that she can try sled hockey for herself!
Tell us, what's your favorite winter sport or activity? Leave us a comment!
Since NCAA Basketball is finally back, here's a Throwback Thursday to David and his role model, Cam Johnson!
**If you are a NCAA basketball fan, don't forget about our March to Friendship brackets coming up in just a few months! Visit our website https://www.ccchampions.com/march-to-friendship.html for more information!
David is a sports star from St. Mary’s, PA with an infectious smile. He loves all sports, but basketball is his favorite. So, we paired him with Cameron Johnson, previous guard for the Pittsburgh Panthers (now a University of North Carolina Tar Heel)!
The first time Cam visited David at the hospital, they spent three straight hours having nerf-gun wars and talking about basketball. They were pretty much inseparable ever since!
Cam would visit David whenever he was able to and the two boys never seemed to have enough time together! They enjoyed playing video games, having pizza eating contests, watching TV, and talking about all things basketball.
To read more about David and his friendship with Cam, visit www.ccchampions.com/stories !
In honor of the World Series and baseball season finishing up this past week, here is a Flashback Friday to when we first met 18-year-old Chloe! At the time she was in Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for her cancer treatment. It was a tough day, but within about 5 minutes, all of Chloe's endless excitement & knowledge of the Pirates started pouring out. We've never met someone who knows as much about the Pirates as Chloe, and we knew just the right person to match her with -- Ty Brooks.
Ty is the Director of Player Personnel for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He works with the GM Neal Huntington to assist with the day-to-day operations of the entire organization. Ty has an incredible story, and one of immense inspiration. He started his career in baseball as a 22-year-old intern with the Atlanta Braves. 6 weeks later and he was offered a full-time job with the organization. He quickly worked his way up from intern to area scout to pro scout to Director of Baseball Operations to Director of Player Personnel. Ty is hoping to become a General Manager next!
Chloe first met Ty as she was finishing up treatment and heading back to school for the first time in almost a year. They instantly clicked, talking baseball, sharing stories, and, of course, complaining about the St. Louis Cardinals (as all of us Pirates fans have learned to do!).
Ty continues to share inspirational experiences with Chloe, like tours of the front office and inviting Chloe & her best friend Abby for a special day at the ballpark. Chloe is currently a freshman at Fordham University's School of Sports Business to become a Sports Executive just like Ty!
Comment below and tell us what your Halloween costume is this year!
Avery wants to be a princess when she grows up. After Izzy and Nicole, two then-University of Pittsburgh students and Little Champs role models, met Avery, they weren’t convinced she wasn’t already a princess! Avery is as sweet and friendly as a child can be, and she wasted no time introducing Izzy and Nicole to her favorite things - barbies, board games, and manicures!
Avery has spent many wonderful mornings with her little champs role models, playing games and getting manicures. She even convinced her dad to get a manicure, too! Avery looks forward to her visits with Izzy and Nicole as much as they look forward to visiting with Avery!
Special shout to these three people: Izzy is in PA school at Marietta College. Nicole is a fifth-year Master's student at Pitt, and Avery is back in Elementary school!
Huge shout out to one of our role models, Nisha! You're a huge inspiration to us all at CCChampions, especially Chyna!
Chyna, age 15, was already an incredible artist and the best dressed person at Children’s hospital. At any given moment, you could find Chyna painting, drawing, or sketching. We were lucky enough to find two role models who could match Chyna’s artistic ability and energetic personality!
Nisha Blackwell is a Pittsburgh native, and the owner of Knotzland, a company that makes hand-crafted artisan bowties out of recycled material. Nisha and Chyna discovered they had both grown up in the same part of Pittsburgh and they immediately became fast friends. More impressive than Nisha’s Pittsburgh roots, however, were the bowties she had designed! Chyna was instantly impressed by the creativity and artistic talent that went into the designs. The best part, however, was when Nisha invited Chyna to her studio, to design bowties together! Nisha and Chyna had a blast designing together, and as expected, the designs were incredible!
We also matched Chyna with Sandra Reiman, a Pittsburgh based handbag and jewelry designer. Sandra and Chyna had a great time talking about fashion and designing together, but they also bonded over their personal stories and high school experiences.
We can’t wait to see what Chyna does next - we wouldn’t be surprised if she starts her own fashion line down the road!
Types of Friendships