Shifting Our Focus

180531-ErinBenson-22.jpg

A lot has changed in the four years since With Purpose transformed from an idea sketched on a napkin to a full-fledged organization trying to change the story for pediatric cancer treatment in the U.S. The organization we set out to create in 2014 is not the organization that exists today. The most impactful event that shifted the focus of With Purpose was losing my son, Sam, in March of 2016.

After Sam died, I wanted to quit. I wanted to move With Purpose our of the present tense and into the past. I did not want to engage with the disease that stole him from me. Right as I was about to announce my decision, something incredible happened. A group of Sam’s friends in Minnesota and another group in South Carolina asked me to help them plan events benefitting With Purpose. Inspired and deeply touched by the passion exhibited by such young humans, I put my doubts about the future aside and did my best to help Sam’s friends bring their ideas to life. It was the best decision I have ever made.

Bearing witness to the dedication, energy and love these young advocates put into planning and executing events that inspired their communities to take action forced me to see the true impact behind With Purpose. I looked back and realized that at the center of every successful initiative were young people. I realized that With Purpose was truly a youth-led movement.

It also dawned on me that empowering young people was an impactful way to combat the issues preventing progress in treating pediatric cancer. By making young people aware of the problem, we could create life-long advocates. We could also tap into the super power I believe young people have: they don’t see barriers only possibilities. That type of thinking is absolutely necessary when attempting to solve a big, systemic problem like childhood cancer.

I believe it will be the next generation of advocates that change the story for kids with cancer in this country. I implore you to read about a few of the young people at the heart of With Purpose and follow our progress. I think you will see that empowering the youth of today is the best investment we can make in the fight against childhood cancer.

Erin Benson