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This world can be broken. This world can be dark. This world can be unfair. We may have no control over the circumstances that we are currently in, but we do have the ability to shine a light in those dark circumstances. A child getting diagnosed with cancer is one of the many examples of dark circumstances. It’s devastating and unfair for a child to go through cancer. Imagine telling your son or your daughter that he/she may not live past the age of 10 or telling he/she that they will never be able to play sports ever again due to their cancer. It’s unfair, it’s dark, and it’s hopeless.

With that being said, dark moments and dark circumstances allow the light to shine even brighter. This is why I started the Jake Taraska Foundation. I didn’t start this Foundation to cure cancer or to promise the kids that they are going to survive. I started the foundation to give kids hope, put smiles on their faces, encourage them to live their lives to the fullest, and to shine Jesus’ light in their dark circumstances. I started the foundation to give kids the courage and the opportunity to share their incredible stories with the entire world. I started the foundation to give kids a lifelong friendship and a community of people supporting them throughout their journey with cancer.

I’ve dealt with a lot of kids battling cancer since the foundation started and all they are looking for is somebody to turn to. All they are looking for is hope. All they are looking for is a community of people that will be there for them through the ups and the downs of their journey with cancer. That’s what I hope the foundation is in these kids lives.

How does the Jake Taraska Foundation help?

First, we get introduced to these children by many different sources like doctors, cancer centers, donors, family, and friends. Then, the foundation makes an effort to go meet each one of them individually and get to know them. The foundation always finds things they have in common and an instant friendship is formed. We make them our signature blanket with their personalized design of something that interests them. Then we send or deliver big care packages with items from their wish list.

Jake Taraska Foundation is about becoming a support system for the child and their family. We help with medical expenses, gas cards, grocery cards, and anything else they may need. We introduce the child and the family to various other people who may be able to help and support them too. I stay in contact with his kids and helps them through their daily struggle with cancer. JTF wants to create a lifelong friendship and inspire these children and families to help others affected with cancer as well.

As a cancer survivor myself, I know the struggles this disease can have on a child and their family. Please consider donating to the Jake Taraska Foundation so we can continue to help children and their families who are affected with cancer. Any amount of money will go a long way in assisting the foundation to do everything we can to support these kids and families. It is because of donors like you that I am here today.

The post Why I Started the Jake Taraska Foundation appeared first on Jake Taraska Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

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Over the Holiday season, the Jake Taraska Foundation teamed up with the Children’s Cancer Center to put together a wonderful Holiday event for the children. The Children’s Cancer Center bought over 20 children with their families to the holiday event. It was a great opportunity for the children to take a break from all the treatments and all the doctor appointments. At the event, their was great food, hot chocolate, s’mores, and all the children got to play with arts and crafts, make their own Ginger Bread houses, meet and talk to Santa, and get their face painted! At the end of the party, Santa gave each child a present to take home with them. It was a great opportunity for the children to enjoy their time away from the hospitals! Below are a few pictures from the event! Enjoy!

The post 2017 Holiday Party with the Children’s Cancer Center appeared first on Jake Taraska Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

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Written By Lindsay Csogi, (Teacher, Sarasota County Schools, F.L., M.A. Reading and Language Arts, M.A. Educational Leadership)

At the beginning of each school year I introduce the term “In It To Win It” to my students. I explain that in order to “Win It” you have to have a positive attitude, put in maximum effort, and be able to execute or apply learned tasks. Students often asked me what the “It” is in “In It To Win It.” In other words, they want to know what they are going to win by having to learn. Well, the “It” is anything you have to persevere to overcome. What exactly is perseverance? I mean, what does it really mean? According to pretty much any dictionary, perseverance is “continuing in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.” In our lives this could be a difficult science test, a speech, a ballgame, a tournament, a civics exam, a disability, or an illness. ANYTHING you have to work hard to overcome.

You see… It’s about the fight, the struggle, and the ability to rise above it in order to move beyond it. It is about finding the things that you can find comfort in and using them to become stronger. Whether it be God, meditation, travel, sports, or books; find what helps to keep you going. Perseverance is about learning through trial and error and taking criticism, along with compliments, to become a humble and honest person capable of trusting, feeling, and growing. Take your struggle as an opportunity to grow the good, let go of the guilt, and squash the poisonous mushrooms around you. Take your struggle as a challenge!

Of course there are days when you have to put your head down, when you feel distracted or disappointed with yourself. Just remember that during those times… you can do it! So get up, do the In It To Win It dance, and keep it moving. Nobody in this life is entitled to anything. So be the growth you want to see in yourself, become the person you want to be, and always be “In It To Win It!”

 

 

The post In It To Win It appeared first on Jake Taraska Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

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I want to thank everyone who came out to my Kick Off Event for the Jake Taraska Foundation. It was a great success and there will be many more coming soon! In the meantime, here’s a recap video of the first event.

The post Kick Off Event Success! appeared first on Jake Taraska Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

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During my mission to find a cure for pediatric cancer, I recently hosted a fundraiser where I raised $10,210. I hosted a 22 inning baseball game at my high school, the Inspiration Academy. I made the game 22 innings because the V Foundation has been established since 1993, which is 22 years. To raise money, I made each kid fill out a pledge form where they would donate a certain amount of money for every inning played. I also had silent auctions around the field where people could make donations. I raised about $5,000 dollars during this fundraiser. The rest of the money I raised was a fundraising page where any one can make a donation. That’s how I raised a little over $10,000.

On May 6, Dick Vitale invited me to his first ever telethon. At the telethon, we raised over $100,000 for pediatric cancer. I also presented him my check for $10,210. Dick and I also talked a lot about how important it is to raise an awareness and raise money for pediatric cancer. However, $10,000 is not enough, but it’s a good start. Every year I will make a bigger and higher goal and I will do more and more fundraisers. No child deserves to fight for their life at such a young age. Young children should be outside running around and playing sports. For every dollar raised for cancer research, only 4% of it is going to pediatrics. Dick and I goes around begging and pleading for money for pediatric cancer. We both do the best we can to try and raise the percentage for pediatric cancer.

The post 1st Annual Baseball Fundraiser and Telethon appeared first on Jake Taraska Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

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During my mission to find a cure for pediatric cancer, I recently hosted a fundraiser where I raised $10,210. I hosted a 22 inning baseball game at my high school, the Inspiration Academy. I made the game 22 innings because the V Foundation has been established since 1993, which is 22 years. To raise money, I made each kid fill out a pledge form where they would donate a certain amount of money for every inning played. I also had silent auctions around the field where people could make donations. I raised about $5,000 dollars during this fundraiser. The rest of the money I raised was a fundraising page where any one can make a donation. That’s how I raised a little over $10,000.

On May 6, Dick Vitale invited me to his first ever telethon. At the telethon, we raised over $100,000 for pediatric cancer. I also presented him my check for $10,210. Dick and I also talked a lot about how important it is to raise an awareness and raise money for pediatric cancer. However, $10,000 is not enough, but it’s a good start. Every year I will make a bigger and higher goal and I will do more and more fundraisers. No child deserves to fight for their life at such a young age. Young children should be outside running around and playing sports. For every dollar raised for cancer research, only 4% of it is going to pediatrics. Dick and I goes around begging and pleading for money for pediatric cancer. We both do the best we can to try and raise the percentage up for pediatric cancer.

The post Presenting Check to Dick Vitale appeared first on Jake Taraska Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

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I was honored to be a special guest at the “Stars and Cars” event at a Mercedes Benz dealership in Sarasota, Florida. This event was a big fundraiser for pediatric cancer research. It was hosted by Dick Vitale, who is hugely involved in raising money and awareness for cancer research. At the event was a very successful Nascar driver named Ryan Hunter-Reay. According to Ryan’s Facebook page, Ryan is a 14 time IndyCar Winner, 2014 Indy 500 Champion, first American Rookie in over 20 years to win a Champ Car race, 2008 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, holds the record for the most laps lead (250) in a single race, won an Espy for the Best Driver, and many more. Ryan is very successful in a car and has many accolades and awards to show how successful Ryan is at driving. However, Ryan Hunter-Reay is not only racing for himself, but he is racing to beat cancer.

Ryan has his own foundation called Racing For Cancer. Ryan put “Racing For Cancer” together after his mother, Lydia, passed away from cancer in 2009. He started this foundation to raise awareness and funds for early detection and prevention. Ryan has raised over 4 million dollars in his efforts to raise money for cancer research. Ryan is a great example of someone who plays a sport that plays for something bigger than themselves. He realizes how lucky he is to live healthy and he is doing an incredible job of finding a cure for cancer research. Not many individuals are on an high enough platform as Ryan Hunter-Reay is and more professional athletes should try to be like him and make a difference in the world. Ryan Hunter-Reay races the number 28 car in honor of the 28 million people worldwide that are fighting this dreadful disease. Meeting Ryan was awesome because Ryan and I are on the same mission and have the same goal, to cure cancer.

For More Detail Click Here

The post With Ryan Hunter-Reay appeared first on Jake Taraska Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

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I had the privilege to meet Jimbo Fisher, head football coach of Florida State University. I met him at the Dick Vitale Gala where he was a special guest, along  with Lovie Smith and Jim Boeheim. Jimbo Fisher had everything going for him ; winning national championships, having his own family, getting big contracts, earning trophies, etc. Everything was going well for him until his son, Ethan Fisher, was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia, a rare and serious genetic disorder that results in bone marrow, in 2011. This blood disease has no cure and it has a life expectancy of 28-30 years of age. The possibility of someone getting Fanconi anemia is about 1 to every 350,000 births. Fanconi anemia also leaves patients more susceptible to other forms of cancer, including leukemia.

After keeping his sickness private, Jimbo and his wife, Candi, decided to make this go public to spread an awareness and to try and find a cure for this disease. Jimbo says, “We’re committed to finding a cure. Anything can be cured and that’s our commitment. We’re going to find a cure. We’re on a quest to find a cure.” A lot of odds are against Ethan but according to his dad, Ethan has been handling this process great.Jimbo says, “He’s dealt with it a lot better than we have. The kid is resilient and he’s amazing. He’s the last kid you’d look at on the playground and think he’s sick. He’s been wonderful and has dealt with it wonderfully.” When Ethan was diagnosed, it was really hard for Jimbo to focus on football when his child was battling a life-threatening disease.

Jimbo says, “In the beginning it was extremely hard because you feel guilty. You wanted to spend time with him and be there for him, but you had your job to do and your responsibility to those players, too. For a while, it was extremely difficult to focus. Why am I doing this (coaching) when I should be helping him?” Jimbo is doing the best he can to balance the two, but it helped him have a better perspective on life and football.

Jimbo and his wife, Candi, put together a foundation called Kidz1stFund to find a cure for Fanconi Anemia. For more information of the Kidz1stFund, go toKidz1stFund. To learn more about Ethan and his inspirational fight to survive, watch this video on him Ethan’s Fight.

The post With Jimbo Fisher appeared first on Jake Taraska Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

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On Friday, May 15, 2015, I had the privilege to meet Devon Still at the Dick Vitale Gala in Sarasota, Florida. The Dick Vitale Gala is a huge event at the Ritz Carlton to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer research. Devon Still is a professional football player for the Cincinnati Bengals and played for Penn State University in college. Devon Still is a successful player on the field but he is changing lives off the field. Devon Still’s daughter, Leah Still, is going through Neuroblastoma, the same cancer that I had as a child. Devon Still was extremely hurt and saddened to hear the news that his own daughter is going through cancer.

Throughout the first couple weeks of Leah going through cancer, she never stopped smiling. Even though she is fighting for her life, she was living her life to the fullest every day by smiling and being hopeful. Devon says, “ She’s just shown a relentless effort of how she’s going to fight this disease. I don’t tell her to smile for the pictures, she just always has a smile on her face.”Devon saw that strength in Leah, and he wanted to make a difference in other families lives as well. Devon raised $141,428 for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The Cincinnati Bengals also played a huge role  in helping Devon and Leah. All proceeds of Devon Still’s jersey went to the  Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for pediatric cancer research. The Bengals started this fundraiser before the season started and has now raised close to 1 million dollars. The Bengals also released Devon in the beginning of the season but kept him on the practice squad so he can pay for his daughter’s treatment, which was a class act from the Bengals. Devon Still spreading all the news he possibly can for awareness for pediatric cancer. Devon goes around the hospital giving families and kids who are going through cancer hope and motivation to overcome this disease.

Devon’s advice to those parents whose kids are going through cancer, “Just don’t give up hope. Let your kids know that you’re going to be there for them and you’re going to help them fight to win this battle.” Devon has done an outstanding job to make a difference in pediatric cancer research by spreading awareness around the world and by raising money to children’s hospitals around the country. Only 4% of every dollar raised for cancer research goes to pediatrics. That statistic is absolutely pathetic and more money should be raised for pediatric cancer. No child should have to experience chemo or radiation at such a young age. Devon has done an incredible job with helping all of us find an awareness and raise money for pediatric cancer. His efforts are being rewarded as he was a special guest at the Dick Vitale Gala. He will also be honored at the ESPY’s when he will receive the Jimmy V Perseverance Award on July 15.   Devon was honored for his strength and courage as his daughter is fighting one of the most deadly disease in the world. I was very honored and humbled to meet such a great young man. To learn more about Leah’s inspirational fight against neuroblastoma, watch this video.

For More Detail Click Here

The post With Devon Still appeared first on Jake Taraska Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

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At the Dick Vitale Gala, there were many special guests and stars that were helping to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer for the V Foundation. One of the stars that attended this event was Jameis Winston, quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and formally quarterback of Florida State University. Jameis Winston came to the event with head coach Lovie Smith and FSU head football coach Jimbo Fisher, along with other players from the Bucs. Winston has a great relationship with Jimbo Fisher’s son, Ethan, who is battling Fanconi anemia. Fanconi Anemia is a rare and serious genetic disorder that results in bone marrow. One of Ethan’s favorite players on the team is Jameis Winston. Jameis has done a great job of giving Ethan hope and providing a role model for Ethan to look up to. Before every game, Jameis and Ethan have a special handshake that they do, which looks a little bit like this : Jameis and Ethan’s handshake.

As you can see in the picture, there are 6 kids that are all smiling at the cameras. These 6 kids are all strong kids that have fought or are fighting pediatric cancer. The 6 kids in this picture are part of Dick Vitale’s All Courageous Team and were special guests at the Dick Vitale Gala. One kid has fought over 200 rounds of chemo, another kid went through brain cancer, another kid is a 2x cancer survivor, and another kid has fought over 1,000 doses of chemo. There were stars, celebrities, and famous athletes at the Dick Vitale Gala but nobody was as strong as these 6 kids. These kids have fought through the worst disease ever and a lot of them are giving back to help others overcome the deadly disease. You should too by making a donation to : https://www.jaketaraska.com/donations

The post With Jameis Winston and The All Courageous Team appeared first on Jake Taraska Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

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