The Cancer Center of Santa Barbara will host its fourth Annual Kidz for a Cure toy sale fundraiser this Saturday at 9 a.m.
The free event encourages children to sell their old toys, books and electronics to benefit cancer research and will offer activities such as face painting, musical entertainment, arts and crafts, games, a bounce house and a silent auction. All proceeds will be donated to Santa Barbara’s Pediatric Oncology Research Fund.
In 2008, eight-year-old Madison Lewandowski founded Kidz for a Cure when she and a friend decided to sell their decorated pencils and jewelry to neighbors and donate the profits to cancer research.
“I used to wear the yellow LIVESTRONG bracelet that Lance Armstrong wore to raise money for cancer,” Lewandowski said. “I thought of that and it just stuck to my brain, so I wanted to help too. After that I came out of my room with a big bag of stuffed animals and asked my dad if we could sell them and give the money to people with cancer.”
Madison’s father, Leon Lewandowski, coordinated with Cancer Center of Santa Barbara to put on an organized toy sale fundraiser that saw much public support from the community.
“The response has been incredible,” Lewandowski said. “It’s a great environment of kids supporting kids, and to see it grow to what it is is inspiring.”
Lindsay Groak, Public Relations and Administrative Projects Coordinator for the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, said proceeds directly fund two positions at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, including Pediatric Oncology Clinical Research Coordinator and Pediatric Oncology social worker. The two positions grant cancer patients access to local clinical trials and assist patients and their families throughout treatment.
“It’s really neat to be there and observe kids in our community let go of their toys, which they really love, for something much bigger than themselves,” Groak said. “The kids come out to help each other and have a lot of fun while doing it.”
Last year’s event drew a crowd of more than 100 and raised over $6,000 for the local hospital.
“It’s set up so anyone anywhere can sign up for an event and continue to raise money for research,” Lewandowski said.
Leon and Madison said they will continue to promote and expand Kidz for a Cure through subsequent toy sales and their website, kidzforacure.org. For more information or to make a donation, call (805) 898-2116.