Receiving news that a child has been diagnosed with cancer is a hit that goes through the entire family.
The Pinky Swear Foundation was formed around the idea of helping all families during the hardest times of their lives.
Where Did it Begin?
This beautiful foundation began with nine-year-old Mitch Chepokas. He was a boy with a heart full of gold that was also battling bone cancer. While in the hospital, Mitch heard the struggles the family experienced and the heartbreaking statement that they may not have enough money for Christmas that year. He decided to pull $6,000 from his own savings and leave it in envelopes for the kids on the pediatric oncology floor at the hospital signed, "Love Mitch. XOXOXO". Once all of his savings were gone, he made his dad share a pinky-swear promise that he would continue helping children diagnosed with cancer and their families even after he was gone. After Mitch passed in 2003, his father kept his promise and the Pinky Swear Foundation was created in his name.
Central Washington University PACK
CWU PACK has made tremendous impacts on helping families through difficult times and putting smiles on children's faces. During this past fundraiser, CWU raised $3,216 for the It Takes Two Campaign. Over $250 of that was raised in one day for a dunking event!
The President and Regional Pack Leader Annie Bluher answered some questions about the PACK:
What made you start the PACK here at CWU?
- I was the president of the CWU Love Your Melon Campus Crew, which unfortunately got shut down due to COVID. I knew the impact we had on kids with cancer and I did not want that to end with the program as well! So there were a couple of girls who reached out to the Pinky Swear Foundation to start a college program with them! I interviewed and became a Regional Leader for the Pinky Swear PACK Program and started the CWU PACK here at Central to continue our impact on kids with cancer!
Have there been any inspirational moments while being the PACK president?
- There have been so many inspirational moments! As a PACK, we got the opportunity for an All-Star Experience where we got to video chat and hang out with a kiddo with cancer. It is always so inspirational meeting kids with cancer and so humbling on how positive they are. They go through so much and it is truly inspiring to see them keep smiling. As the President of LYM and then Pinky Swear, it has been inspiring seeing all of my PACK members grow throughout the years!
Has being a part of the Pinky Swear Foundation helped you grow?
- I have grown so much this year, having LYM shut down and picking up Pinky Swear was such a blessing... and you know how the saying goes, everything happens for a reason! Being a regional leader for the Pinky Swear PACK Program has helped me grow not just individually but as a leader and a professional. I have learned so many leadership skills this year, including being in a president/leader role but also having someone else looking over me as well. This helped me realize when I needed to do better, and having those professional relationships that push you to be your best self. This year has been a lot of self-motivation and has taught me to not let obstacles get in the way and to keep pushing to get things done!
What is next for Annie Bluher?
- I, unfortunately, will be graduating from CWU this year! My next step is to achieve a Master's in Sport and Performance Psychology at the University of Denver! However, I am not quite done with Pinky Swear yet either! I have been invited to work on the Pinky Swear Partner Program within Pinky Swear Foundation where I can continue to be a part of Pinky Swear and help make a difference in other areas of the Foundation!
How Can You Get Involved?
If you are on a college campus, check out your local club's list and see if there is a PACK! You will not regret joining!
If you are not on a college campus, if you visit the Pinky Swear Foundation website there are numerous ways to donate to a family in need.
"It only takes two pinkies to make a pinky swear promise. It only takes two seconds for a family’s life to turn upside down from a childhood cancer diagnosis. And it only takes $2 to make a difference."