Liberty Club Works With Larger Organization To Bring Awareness To Pediatric Cancer
Serving others, helping the community, raising awareness—these characteristics describe the Pinky Swear Pack, a student club at Liberty University. Members of the club are ambassadors to a larger organization, the Pinky Swear Foundation, which has one primary mission: to bring awareness to pediatric cancer and support the families affected by it.
The Pinky Swear Foundation all started with a simple pinky swear between a father and son in a hospital room in December 2002.
According to the Pinky Swear Foundation’s website, Mitch Chepokas, a loving, kind-hearted 9-year-old, was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer. Before his passing, Mitch made his father promise him that he would help other children with cancer, as well as their families after he was gone.
Mitch’s father, Steve Chepokas, kept that promise. With his wife Becky, they began the organization in honor of Mitch. Since then, the Pinky Swear Foundation has helped thousands of families with the emotional and financial struggles that cancer brings.
The Pinky Swear Pack at Liberty works to carry this message on, hosting various events and activities on campus throughout each semester that serve families, deliver encouragement to children in the hospitals and educate other students at LU about pediatric cancer.
“Group members are given multiple tasks to help raise awareness for pediatric cancer,” Samantha Fornell president of Liberty’s Pinky Swear club said. “Our favorite event to do is a tabling event where we ask LU students to make cards, and then we send those cards to the hospitals.”
In the past, the group could go to hospitals and visit children with cancer often dressed as superheroes.
“We used to take frequent trips to the Roanoke Carilion Hospital and hang out with the kids and bring them goodies,” Fornell said.
In the past, group members also made meals for children and families at the Ronald McDonald House in Roanoke, Virginia. However, serving has looked a lot different this year. Pinky Swear Promise students are not allowed to visit the pediatric patients in person as they have done previously.
Despite this difficulty, group members pursue other ways to serve. The club members continue to do what they can to be a blessing from a distance by sending letters of encouragement, participating in fundraising challenges online and making awareness videos.
The club also provides students hands-on experience and inspires them to serve others with their degrees.
“After I did my first hospital visit with the Pinky Swear club a few years back, the children and the experience solidified my draw to this specialization even more,” Fornell, a nursing major who hopes to specialize in pediatrics, said. “I love to help and care for people, and being able to care for children who are unable to help themselves is something special to me.”
The Pinky Swear Pack needs students with a heart for serving and a willingness to get involved. The Liberty group’s Instagram is @pspack_lu. More information about the foundation can be found on its main website at www.pinkyswear.org.
Olivia Hallacker is a Feature Reporter.