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#GivingTuesday – Join Us In Saving Lives!

How do you tell a child you love they are going to die? Seven children every day die from pediatric cancer, the number one killer by disease in children. Unacceptable. Cannonball Kids’ cancer exists to fund research that gives hope and saves lives for the 50,000 children in the U.S. who are fighting to live. Kids like Coulter. Coulter is alive because of donations from people just like you. Together we funded a trial that has given Coulter a chance to live. We believe Research Is The Key and you hold that key in your hands! Please help us make possible the gift of hope for 15 more children by the end of this year. Together, we will unlock a cure!

Join the #GivingTuesday movement and help save lives today.

Thank you,

Melissa Wiggins

Executive Director

Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation

Exciting CKc Leadership Announcement


To: CKc Community


From: Melissa Wiggins


Date: October 3, 2016


Subject: A Very Exciting CKc Announcement



Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation is at an exciting crossroads! As we approach the end of year two of our nonprofit status, we have choices to make. We can be a small, local foundation funding a few trials every year or we can become the national pediatric cancer research giant that I KNOW we can. But that means change, so we are changing up our team in order to accommodate our growth. For this reason I am stepping down from CKc’s Board and taking on the role of leading our foundation to that national foundation status that can impact pediatric cancer in the way we want and need it to. Effective December 1, 2016, I will be the Executive Director at Cannonball Kids’ cancer. This is a great transition point now that Cannon has completed treatment which will allow me to step into this exciting role. Along with my legal training and background as a lawyer (solicitor), I have been training with the Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership and I am ready to take on this challenge!


On a personal note, Cannon kicked cancer’s ass and I plan on following in his footsteps by traveling the US to find innovative, less toxic, less painful clinical trials for the kids battling. Our programs include education and we have seen some major fruits of our labor this year, most notably the impact on the Buster and Kristen Posey Foundation and their brave and mighty goal to hit pediatric cancer out of the park – which they will do! Our mission remains pure and simple – educate to eradicate. Let’s educate and encourage change and fund clinical trials!


This past weekend, the Board voted on this change. I want to be accountable because when people donate or invest in CKc, I want them to know I am working hard to deliver!


Michael, who is a founding partner in his law firm at McDonald, Toole and Wiggins and has been a managing partner for 6 years, will lead our Board as Chair. Technically, this makes him my boss. If that doesn’t show my dedication to pediatric cancer I don’t know what will! Seriously though, not only is he a nationally recognized litigator and speaker, he is an incredible leader and his passion for this cause is unparalleled. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have him be our leader.


Our current CEO, Ashley VanDerMark, singlehandedly got CKc off of the ground while Michael and I focused on Cannonball’s treatment. She will now take lead on the Board with Michael as Vice Chair. She is dynamic and brilliant and with her by Michael’s side developing the Board I know CKc will stay on mission and be sustainable for the long term. Aside from Michael and myself, no one understands and fights for our core mission more than she does. CKc is extremely lucky to have this extraordinary community leader.


So it’s change… but it’s good change! Great change, in fact, because it’s for the betterment of our foundation.


My commitment to you, the investor, volunteer and supporter of CKc, is that if at the end of 2017 I have NOT delivered, I will step down immediately! We pride ourselves on transparency and accountability and will do whatever it takes to fulfill our mission. Quitters never win and winners never quit and I plan on winning for the kids battling and taken by cancer!


I believe I can do this! I am ready to lead CKc into 2017 for its most successful year thus far!

End of Childhood cancer Awareness Month

Please read this important last post for Childhood cancer Awareness Month.

Written by Michael and Melissa Wiggins

This is Michael. Today is the last day of Childhood cancer Awareness Month. I am sorry to see the month end. Not because I don’t want breast cancer to have its awareness month in October or because other causes and charities don’t deserve to be recognized, but because our children deserve more. We try every September to educate and make aware, as many people as we can, of the struggle that parents and advocates for children have every day to try to improve treatments for children with cancer. The hope is that by funding more research, by helping more young medical students, fellow and interns, by asking our government leaders to fund pediatric cancer research at the National Institute of Health, that less and less kids will have to go through the absolute hell of cancer treatment and ultimately, we will find a cure for cancer in children.

I will write this post today and then step away from posting and writing on the CKc page and social media sites. I will continue to advocate and speak about why CKc so passionately believes that we must right a societal wrong, but Melissa, Ashley, Debra and many others in our organization are more diplomatic about this subject and frankly do a better job. I suppose it is part of my DNA to go as hard as we can for what we believe is the right thing to do and to not apologize or worry about people’s feelings when it comes to justice for children that are dying. I think many of the nurses at the hospitals where Cannon was treated would agree that my diplomatic skills when it came to Cannon’s treatment and what he endured were absent.

In our book, “Thankful For The Fight”, there is a piece I wrote that pretty much sums up what Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation is all about. In less than 10 sentences, it explains the passion we have for finding a cure and less painful treatments for kids diagnosed with all 12 types of cancer found in children. I will let it be our last set of facts for Childhood cancer Awareness Month:

“Melissa and I have seen it all, and I nearly shake in anger and my eyes well up when I see my son suffering yet again, from an IV needle that has come out and has to be replaced, or his nausea from receiving multiple medications, or his eyes rolling back from so much morphine to shut off some of the pain, or when I contemplate the fact that he has not eaten a single crumb since Sunday night because he feels too ill to do so, or I see him stumble on his feet because his legs have no strength after lying in bed listlessly for days.

THIS is the world of kids’ cancer. This is it. It’s not kids with bald heads holding balloons, a stuffed animal or a toy and smiling. It’s just not, and perhaps the reason why kids’ cancer gets so little attention in our world is because most would like to have it painted this way.

Never forget, every day parents bury children lost to cancer. Every day when you are getting ready for work, your day, school or an adventure, there are others also dressing and preparing, but to attend the funeral of their child, the average age of eight… dead and gone forever and so unjustly and, in our opinion, needlessly. It is wrong. Please help Melissa and me continue this fight.” (May, 2014)

Mumma Bear here…

This is my ASK on the last day of Childhood cancer Awareness Month.

Please help us end this year by funding another trial! I get it – we already funded three, but we want one more! Help us help save kids with cancer! One more trial could potentially help 15 more kids… 15! That’s a kindergarten class, guys. The average age of death for kids with cancer is 8!

We not only want to create hope in families so that no one hears the words “there are NO MORE options for your child”, but we want to create hope for clinical oncologists who are working on cures! We have Request For Applications (RFA) that need funding at CKc! We can fund them after the Gala next year, but what about the 45 new kids diagnosed TODAY?! Or the 7 that will be buried today? What about them? We don’t have time on our hands! These kids DON’T! Doctors who have ideas and solutions to the current pediatric cancer situation NEED FUNDING to create HOPE! With your help we could potentially help 15 kids and their families not be told to go home on hospice and instead be given hope through a groundbreaking trial.

I appreciate that funding clinical research isn’t sexy and that you don’t get to feel and touch it or have your name on it, BUT I promise nothing you can touch can get any closer to a cure for kids dying of cancer than this. Nothing!

Research is the key!

Our goal between now and December is to get $75,000 so we can call the oncology researchers and tell them their trial has been funded so they can start enrolling kids – TODAY!

If you feel compelled, please consider sending a check to P.O. Box 547797, Orlando, FL 32854 or donate online at

Let’s start saving lives – together – today!

Thank you.

Treatments Actually Cause Cancer?

Written by Michael Wiggins

This is Michael. On the second to last day of Childhood cancer Awareness Month, I would like to discuss the effects of treatment received by children diagnosed with a form of pediatric cancer. It is true that there are 375,000 estimated adult survivors of a form of pediatric cancer. They are all not here for 2 reasons: 1/ “Survivorship”, as discussed in a prior post, is only measured in a five year term, meaning that one that survives five years after diagnosis is considered a “survivor”. We personally know several children needlessly and unjustly lost to pediatric cancer that died well beyond their five year anniversary of their diagnosis date; and 2/ many of them have died from the side effects of having the harsh and archaic treatments afforded children with cancer.

Did you know that 60% of children who do survive their cancer and do survive the barbaric treatment suffer side effects such as infertility, heart and/or lung damage, hearing loss and secondary cancers? That’s right, secondary cancers. If there is one thing that hits the ball out of the park with respect to why research is so necessary to find new and improved methods of treatment for children with cancer is this: the current treatments available to kids with cancer themselves cause cancer!! Can you believe it? The treatment CAUSES another form of cancer to develop… and we are losing more children unjustly and unnecessarily.

Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation is dedicated to funding research to find and develop less painful and more effective treatments for children with cancer. To find and develop treatments specifically designed for those cancers found only or primarily in children. And to find cures for pediatric forms of cancer. If you are able, please help us by visiting Thank you.

Funding = Research = Cure

Greatest Obstacles

Written by Michael Wiggins

This is Michael. This infographic says it all. Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation (CKc) was founded to address the issues seen here. Why is cancer diagnosed in children more often today and in more children today than 1970? Why is there no cancer early detection testing as standard protocol for babies, infants and small children? Why is relapse of growing cancer cells not preventable in children? Why is not one single form of children’s cancer ever been cured?

Answer:  Lack of awareness. Lack of funding in both the private and public sector. Lack of researchers. And, frankly, lack of passion of enough people (needed outrage) to demand that cancer in children be put to an end.

Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation is dedicated to funding research to find and develop less painful and more effective treatments for children with cancer. To find and develop treatments specifically designed for those cancers found only or primarily in children. And to find cures for pediatric forms of cancer. If you are able, please help us by visiting Thank you.

Funding = Research = Cure

Why Give Blood?

Written by Michael Wiggins

This is Michael. Over the past several weeks, I have tried to write about the types of treatments experienced by children diagnosed with cancer, and how harsh and brutal they can be to a baby, infant or small child. I also have discussed the side effects of cancer treatments for children, particularly outdated adult chemotherapies used to treat kids. One of the effects of this type of treatment is the need for blood transfusions and blood products. Did you know that every day, nearly 45,000 blood donations are needed in America and many of those are needed by children with cancer? It’s true, and we at Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation would like to encourage everyone to donate blood, platelets and plasma, if able, for all cancer patients and especially children.

Why are blood and blood products so vital to one suffering from cancer? Because treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunosuppressive therapy destroy blood-making cells in the bone marrow. And kids with cancer undergo and experience all three – chemo, radiation and immune system suppressing therapies. The need for blood is constant on the oncology floors of pediatric hospitals.

Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to every part of the body and takes away waste products. Because blood cannot be made in a laboratory, it must come from a donor. The following are the most commonly needed parts of blood:

Platelets. Platelets are blood cells critical to blood clotting, which is the process that stops bleeding. When cancer and/or cancer treatment causes a person’s platelet level to fall too low, a transfusion can reduce the risk of serious or life-threatening bleeding.

Red blood cells. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein that carries oxygen throughout the body to vital organs and tissues. They are used to treat anemia, which is a low number of red blood cells. Anemia can be caused by cancer and/or cancer treatment.

Plasma. Plasma is the pale yellow liquid portion of the blood in which cells travel. It carries proteins that help control bleeding and antibodies that help fight infection. A person may need a plasma transfusion if he or she has experienced severe bleeding.

Many people contact our Foundation and ask how they can help. Donating blood costs nothing but time. Please consider making a donation on behalf of all kids suffering from a form of pediatric cancer.

Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation is dedicated to funding research for less painful therapies for children’s cancers, more effective treatments and especially the development of therapies specifically for children, and ultimately an end to cancer in children. If you would like to help, please visit our website at

Funding = Research = Cure

86,400 Seconds

Written by Michael Wiggins

This is Michael. Today begins the last week of September, and earlier this morning, I received my usual couple emails from friends and colleagues about the weekend football games, the passing of our Orlando legend Arnold Palmer, or other small items. One email was particularly spot on for Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation and everyone who advocates for kids diagnosed with cancer.

Here it is:

1. Each morning we awaken to receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life.

2. And when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is not credited to us.

3. What we haven’t used up that day is forever lost.

4. Yesterday is forever gone.

5. Each morning the account is refilled, but the bank can dissolve your account at any time WITHOUT WARNING. So, what will YOU do with your 86,400 seconds?

Those seconds are worth so much more than the same amount in dollars. Think about it and remember to enjoy every second of your life, because time races by so much quicker than you think. So take care of yourself, be happy, love deeply and enjoy life! Here’s wishing you a wonderful and beautiful day. Start spending…


I know that I have given this fact out many times before, but it is worth stating over and over again until cancer in children is no more: The average age of a child that dies after being diagnosed with cancer is EIGHT YEARS OLD. Eight… Eight. Wrong. Unjust. And unnecessary.

Children that die every day from cancer are not dying in short time periods after diagnosis. They go many months and some many years before they pass, and what does this mean? It means that they spent most of their lives in horrible treatment, or feeling ill, or being in hospitals, or being away from their siblings, their homes and their friends at school… all just to try to live to be a normal kid. And what is so frustrating for us as advocates for research to stop this madness is the fact that most still don’t appreciate that most kids that die with a cancer diagnosis aren’t dying from the cancer, they are dying from the TREATMENT. The methods and types of treatment for kids with all 12 major types of children’s cancer are old and antiquated, developed for adult forms of cancer and for far too many, not effective or so harsh that they literally kill the child. This past weekend, a highly respected oncologist from Memorial Sloan Kettering told Melissa and me that most adults would not survive the onslaught of barbaric treatment that kids with cancer are forced to endure because methods of treatment designed specifically for children are not yet available. I ask you to re-read that sentence and think about what he said. Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation is dedicated to funding research for less painful therapies for children’s cancers, more effective treatments and especially the development of therapies specifically designed for children, and ultimately a cure and an end to cancer in children. If you would like to help, please visit our website at

Thank you.

Speak UP!

Written by Michael Wiggins

This is Michael. We continue to receive good feedback on the national and international front for those advocating for children with cancer. We hear that pediatric cancer awareness is at an all time high and that perhaps finally, funding may increase both in the public and in the private sector. In the public sector, it may occur because of current legislation that we continue to ask members of Congress to pass. In the private sector, we believe that increased awareness we drive private charitable dollars to the research labs to find the cures and the treatments and the early detectors for children so that cancer won’t visit upon future generations of children.

Why is this so fundamentally important? Why do I seem to keep repeating myself on this subject? Because children with cancer suffer unnecessarily, and because children with cancer die, and until both are no more, Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation and our fellow cancer research foundations and charities will not quit.

Children that are treated for cancer are at risk for life altering and lifetime effects of the treatment (another reason that research funding is necessary to improve treatment methods, reduce pain and sickness and eliminate lifetime side effects). And that it is estimated that by the time a child who experienced cancer as a child is 45, he or she will have a 95% chance of suffering a lifetime and chronic health problem as a result of the severe treatment experienced as a child? And finally, that three out of five children who survive children’s cancer suffer long term or late side effects? SOURCE:

This is the horrible list of potential side effects that kids that get cancer are left with for their lifetimes, assuming they survive:

Here are 11 common side-effects that children may experience as a result of current treatment protocols:

Cognitive issues including delayed speech, problems with reading, writing and memory retention.

Fertility issues.

Secondary cancers later in life.

Loss of limbs, or shortened limbs whose growth was stunted.

Cataracts, poor vision, damage to the optic nerve or other effects to the eye.

Hearing loss.

Cardiac problems including an abnormal heartbeat, congestive heart failure and increased risk of a stroke or blood clots.

Kidney failure.

Weak or thin bones that can break easily.

Anxiety and depression.

Teeth and jaw problems including missing teeth, smaller teeth, tooth decay and gum disease.

Speak UP. Speak up for all kids with cancer. Help us at Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation to fund research and clinical trials so that someday, cancer won’t exist in children.

Funding = Research = Cure

Thank you.

Stand UP

Written by Michael Wiggins

This is Michael. We are hearing a lot of good things happening in pediatric cancer awareness, and there are advancements being made by those doing the research in the world of cancer found in children. Of course we know that our own grantee, Dr. Ted Johnson, is doing great work in Augusta, Georgia in the field of brain cancer found in children and infants. We know firsthand that Dr. Giselle Sholler is an amazing person and brilliant physician and is another of our grantees. Cannon just finished Dr. Sholler’s clinical trial for the prevention of relapsed neuroblastoma with the use of a drug call DFMO. And Dr. Mario Otto and Dr. Paul Sondel, also our grantees, are doing fantastic work to try to find the cause and a cure for rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer of the bone found primarily in children. These are amazing people and their staffs are fantastic as well. We are proud to be associated with them all.

Last week in California, we heard of exciting work and clinical trials in the use of immunotherapy to try to treat recurrent or difficult tumor cancers in children. We have met young people that want to find the answers and want to eliminate cancer in children and not just treat it and build big and shiny new hospitals. CKc is excited to fund and support all “young investigators” and those dedicating their professional careers to ending the suffering of children because of cancer.

Why is our journey important? That is a question that we have been asked by the media and by others who want to know more about what we have done or what we learned by taking Cannon through his nearly two years of constant suffering in treatment. The answer is that our journey as a Foundation is important because it’s the right thing to do. It’s that simple. Both Melissa and I have always strived to lead this journey for our Foundation to “do the right thing” no matter how hard or how difficult, and improving treatments for kids with cancer and ultimately finding a cure is at the top of the list of our life priorities.

Why do I say this? Did you know that nearly all drugs currently used to treat children with cancer, with the exception of a few anti-leukemia drugs developed in the 1950s and early 1960s, were developed for adult cancers and then found “effective” to treat cancer in children? But it is true that most common types of childhood cancer are distinct from adult cancers clinically, pathologically, cytologically, and in the molecular abnormalities that underlie them. If the discovery and development of new agents for childhood cancers were to capitalize on today’s science and “modern medicine” and advancements in technology, gene mapping, etc.—which in large measure it does not—there is every reason to believe that cure rates could be improved for all pediatric cancers. (Source: National Research Council, “Making Better Drugs for Children with Cancer”, 2005)

Consider these chemotherapy drugs which were administered to Cannon during his treatment and other still today to other children with neuroblastoma:

Carboplatin – approved by the FDA 3/3/89

Cisplatin – approved by the FDA 7/16/99

Cyclophosphamide – approved by the FDA 7/3/86

Doxorubicin – approved by the FDA before 1/1/82

Etoposide – approved by the FDA 2/22/96

Vincristine – approved by the FDA 3/7/84

All approved for adult cancers. Not a single one on this list was developed or initially approved for pediatric cancer. (By the way, if you are really interested in this subject matter, Google or further research any of these drugs individually and check out the toxicity levels of each. It literally has brought me to tears knowing I have had to ok the administration of each to Cannon, several times over to try to save his life, because “it’s part of the protocol”, which means that nothing else is available.)

The “youngest” or most recently approved one? 17 years old. Really? My son had to have drugs that were developed for adults and cause a lifetime of problems or his premature death and are between 17 and 35 years old when we live in an age when a new iPhone comes out every other year? Outrageous. Can this really be? Answer: It is. And today, several hundred kids with neuroblastoma alone will receive one or more of these chemo drugs. Maddening.

Please help all of us at Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation and all the families of children with cancer fight this fight. Help us raise awareness and honor all the families of those children already lost to children’s cancer. Awareness is the only way to start and continue the engine to improve funding for research to develop new therapies and to find a cure to end cancer in children. It can be done. It can… believe it and stand up for children… stand UP.

Funding = Research = Cure

CureFest 2016

Written by Ashley VanDerMark

CKc attended CureFest for the 2nd year and wow, what a difference a year makes!

Attendance, exposure, social media presence… it all was higher than last year. But guess what? The number of children diagnosed was higher, too (because as we know, pediatric cancer is on the rise).

Saturday Night:

Saturday’s event was a beautiful night of singing, dancing and testimonies from both children and parents. It was the event leading up to the vigil at the White House.

We met so many amazing and brave kids, including Parker Kress  Power for Parker , a teenager from Iowa who battled Ewing’s Sarcoma. Even though his treatment ended in December, Parker’s leg will be amputated in October because his body can’t fight a persistent infection. 

We also got to see beautiful Gabi Shull dance. Gabi is an osteosarcoma survivor. Gabi already underwent the surgery that Parker is having – a rotationplasty. This surgery removes the knee joint and replaces it with the ankle joint turned 180 degrees, so the joint can allow a prosthesis to rotate. It is a radical surgery, and one that a teenager (or anyone) shouldn’t have to “choose” in order to save their lives. Both of these amazing kids have watched their friends die. It’s not right, and we must do better for our young people. So much better.

As you might recall, Melissa and I spent more than three hours in front of the White House last year waiting for the candlelight vigil to begin. The Secret Service escorted our group out of the park across the street as the President was leaving via a different route. After hours of waiting, kids were crying and parents were upset. Many children in treatment needed to return to their hotels for medication and rest. I remember thinking that the push back… the delay… it felt like the overall attitude towards childhood cancer. That measly 4% of funding, lack of research, lack of awareness… this was just a tangible representation of our children being pushed aside. So when the Washington Post and other media outlets got a hold of the story, I was grateful for the press. Director Joseph Clancy, head of the Secret Service, issued an apology and tried to rectify the situation. But at CKc, action means more than words, and we all knew that some children who were denied that opportunity would die before the next CureFest rolled around. 

As I drove to CureFest on Friday, I silently prayed that something tangible, some type of ACTION, would help put last year’s unfortunate situation to rest. Towards the end of the performances, just before we headed out to the White House, Director Clancy showed up, unbeknownst to the CureFest organizers. He was asked to say a few words and he admitted that before last year, he didn’t know anything about childhood cancer, but he did now. His presence there spoke volumes… our kids were finally being noticed! As one person put it, “Director Clancy is not just the protector of the President, but now a protector of children.” It was definitely a highlight. 

After filling the streets of DC with close to 1,000 people, we ended the night with our candles held high while singing “Amazing Grace” in front of the White House, honoring all of the warriors and angels affected by cancer. It was a powerful and emotional moment. 


The actual festival was eye opening. Foundation after foundation lined up around the National Mall, the Washington Monument flanking us on one side and the US Capitol on the other. Many were there to provide family support, and several, like CKc, were focused on funding research. I went to each booth to learn more… we at CKc can’t learn enough! 

There were definitely moments where things felt as if they were coming full circle. Moments such as reconnecting with the Super Sam Foundation and seeing how much they have grown in the last year. In addition to funding research, Sam’s twin Ava started a sibling care club. CKc recently funded a trial that focuses on rhabdomyosarcoma, the cancer that stole Sam from his family. Or learning that our neighbors in the next booth lived nearby and were hosting an event this weekend to celebrate their beautiful baby girl who died from brain cancer. We can’t wait to support the Addison Bryan Foundation as her daddy shaves his head. And moments such as watching my sister-in-love Kendra step whole heartedly into the world of advocacy for kids’ cancer after having it hit so close to home. 

We have been blessed with an amazing lobbying team at Venable Consulting LLP. They have worked incredibly hard to help provide a platform for us to share our initiatives with legislators on Capitol Hill. What a blessing it was to have Megan Malone join us at our booth again. Megan is a staunch advocate for CKc and I loved being able to share the great work that other foundations are doing with her. 

I’d like to give special thanks to my son Connor, CKc’s first youth ambassador. He did an amazing job teaching visitors the hard facts about pediatric cancer. He and Cannon have always had an incredible bond, and I was proud of the way he met each child, got down on their level, and let them know that CKc will fight until there is no longer a need for CureFest.

We have a couple of special mottos at CKc. “Go big or go home” and “There can be no egos in the world of pediatric cancer.” Our foundation prides itself on supporting others… because at the end of the day, it’s the cure that we so desperately need so that cancer in children never exists again. Big moments, small moments, ripples, waves… whatever it takes to get us there… that’s the heart of CKc.

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