The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Donations Can Help Candlelighters Compassionately Support Families Affected by Childhood Cancer

Candlelighters Helps Families Affected By Childhood Cancer
Andrew Allen

Written by: Andrew Allen

Andrew Allen
Andrew Allen

For nearly 20 years, Andrew has worked for financial institutions ranging from regional investment organizations to some of the largest banks in the world. At Wells Fargo, Andrew was a Consultant within the Insight and Innovation division. A graduate of the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, Andrew’s goal has been promoting personal financial wellness and solid money decisions. As a Staff Writer for CardRates, Andrew seeks to inform readers of solutions to help them on their path to financial freedom.

See full bio »

Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro
Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience to the CardRates team. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Florida. Today, Lillian edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

See full bio »

Our experts and industry insiders blog the latest news, studies and current events from inside the credit card industry. Our articles follow strict editorial guidelines.

In a Nutshell: When a child is diagnosed with cancer, the child’s whole family is affected. Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada supports families who have been affected by childhood cancer. The foundation offers financial gifts and emotional support to extend hope to families. Donors can support the compassionate care Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada provides to children with cancer and their families.

Life is full of challenges. People who face their challenges alone may find them insurmountable. But people who accept the care of a supportive team often stand a greater chance of overcoming life’s difficulties.

In the late 1970s, two families in Nevada each had a child in treatment for cancer. As the families navigated caring for their children, they found themselves in unprecedented territory without a support network.

The two families founded Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada together to create a network of support for families affected by childhood cancer. We caught up with Kimberly Kindig, the foundation’s CEO, to learn more about how Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada (Candlelighters) makes a difference in families’ lives.

Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada logo

Kindig said survival rates for childhood cancer were between 40% to 50% when Candlelighters was founded. Survival rates for childhood cancer have reached 80% to 90% in the 2020s. The foundation helps families affected by childhood cancer by providing financial assistance and emotional support. Kindig said Candlelighters also hosts events to unite families and create meaningful connections.

Candlelighters has evolved and expanded its programs since its inception, but the foundation’s values have remained the same, Kindig said.

“Family has always been important to our legacy,” Kindig said. “Even within our team, we have survivors of childhood cancer and parents of cancer survivors. We believe Candlelighters is an extended family for families going through this journey.”

Survivors of childhood cancer can have long-term effects from the disease. That’s why Candlelighters remains involved with survivors of childhood cancer and their families through the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery stages of the disease. The foundation also supports families who have lost a child to childhood cancer. Kindig also said Candlelighters provides financial assistance to survivors of childhood cancer so they can receive long-term care.

“Thankfully, there’s a greater likelihood of surviving cancer these days than there used to be,” Kindig said. “Now we’re trying to understand what the quality of life will look like for survivors 10, 20, and 30 years later and how we can best support them.”

Seasonal Events Bring Families Together

Kindig said 66% of the families Candlelighters supports have low or moderate incomes and may not be able to pay for cancer treatments. The foundation supports families by providing funds to assist them with their rent or mortgage payments. 

Kindig says Candlelighters surveys families to identify the priority of their financial needs. Candlelighters reimburses families for medical copays. Kindig said 30% to 40% of the families Candlelighters works with have to travel out of state for cancer treatments. The foundation helps families who travel to access cancer treatments by providing them with financial assistance for their gas, food, and lodging expenses. 

Candlelighters offers emotional support services to families affected by childhood cancer. The foundation’s counseling programs include individual, marriage, and group therapy. Candlelighters also provides play therapy for children 10 years old and younger. Kindig said it’s easier for children to process trauma in a setting that’s conducive to their needs.

Famillies at halloween bash
Candlelighters hosts a Halloween Bash for families.

Candlelighters manages separate support groups for teenagers and adults, and it introduced a support group for siblings of children diagnosed with cancer in 2023.

The foundation coordinates events to improve the quality of life for families affected by childhood cancer. 

“It’s a privilege to create moments of joy and hope for families,” Kindig said. “When families are facing cancer, sometimes they just need a break. We have a lot of different opportunities designed for people of all ages, and all of our programs are available at no cost to families.”

Candlelighters hosts a community event called Superhero 5K each September. The event raises funds for the families the foundation supports, and participants can attend virtually or in person. 

Candlelighters holds a Halloween Bash each October to raise money and provide families with a safe and fun environment to celebrate Halloween together. Kindig said individuals and businesses can donate candy and money to support the event, which volunteers help manage. 

Members of the Community Support One Another

Candlelighters’s headquarters are in Las Vegas, Nevada. Kindig said the foundation works with two local medical facilities — a pediatric oncology clinic and a hospital with a pediatric oncology unit. Candlelighters maintains contact with the nurses, social workers, and specialists at the pediatric oncology centers to gain introductions to families affected by childhood cancer.

“Our team is in the hospital or pediatric oncology clinic a couple of times a week, meeting with families to discuss their most pressing needs and providing case management services,” Kindig said. “We have relationships with about 90% of the families affected by childhood cancer in our area. It’s a very tight-knit community.”

Kimberly Kindig
Kimberly Kindig is the CEO of Candlelighters.

Kindig said Candlelighters receives donations from a diverse group of benefactors. Individuals, businesses, and private groups provide 70% of the foundation’s funds. The remaining 30% of Candlelighters’s budget comes from fundraising events.

Kindig said Candlelighters doesn’t receive government funding for ongoing operations.

“The generosity of individuals and businesses make our programs possible,” Kindig said. “I hear from a lot of our donors, and they express to me the broad impact of cancer. There’s a lot of sensitivity and understanding around cancer that draws people to want to provide help and hope to our families.”

Interested parties can make donations to Candlelighters on the foundation’s website. Donors have the option to make a one-time gift or to establish monthly contributions. 

Donors contributing $1,000 or more annually become members of the foundation’s Gold Flame Circle of Support. Candlelighters uses a portion of donated funds to establish scholarships for survivors of childhood cancer.

The Candlelighters Team Provides Guidance and Care

Candlelighters measures its impact by assessing how the assistance it provides families helps them overcome financial vulnerabilities and feel emotionally supported. Kindig said the foundation uses metrics to understand its success in assisting families to reduce stress and develop coping skills.

As Candlelighters prepares to celebrate 45 years of serving families affected by childhood cancer, Kindig said the foundation has announced plans to build a support center.

Candlelighters’s new center will have a designated area for teenagers to receive support, a lounge to provide parents with informal opportunities to connect, and a memorial space.

“We’ve already received a major gift to help finance the building,” Kindig said. “Our goal is to raise $7 million to support the project. We’ve received approximately $2 million toward that goal. Once we finalize our plans, we’ll have a major fundraising effort for the building.”

Kindig said Candlelighters’s competitive advantage is its team and how committed the foundation is to supporting the families it works with. Members of the foundation’s staff can explain medical terms to families and walk them through what to expect from treatments, Kindig said.

Candlelighters works with families to meet their needs. Kindig said the foundation’s mission is to create a circle of compassionate care.

“Letting families know they have someone to help guide them through the challenges they encounter is almost as important as the services we provide,” Kindig said. “No one should have to face childhood cancer alone. We wrap our arms around these families and stand by their sides through their journey. That’s truly what our purpose is.”