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Calgary kids donating their birthday presents inspires new fundraiser

Kids Cancer Care launched the initiative prompting other children to ask for charitable donations for their birthday in lieu of gifts

Lauren Charbonneau, 12, takes a bite out of a birthday cupcake at Crave Cookies and Cupcakes on Wednesday for the launch of Give More Birthdays.

Jennifer Friesen/For Metro

Lauren Charbonneau, 12, takes a bite out of a birthday cupcake at Crave Cookies and Cupcakes on Wednesday for the launch of Give More Birthdays.

Calgary kids have banded together to give birthday gifts that will last a lifetime.

Year after year, the staff of Kids Cancer Care would see children marching up to their office, armed with envelopes of their own birthday money to donate to the cause.

Now, the not-for-profit organization is recognizing those acts of selflessness by launching their new initiative, Give More Birthdays.

“We’re formalizing something that they already began,” said Christine McIver, founder and CEO of Kids Cancer Care.

“Seeing those kids coming in with their birthday money has always been such a special time – it’s hard to give away your birthday money. It’s kids helping kids.”

Flanked by four of the children who have already donated their birthday gifts to charity, McIver launched Give More Birthdays on Wednesday morning at Crave Cookies and Cupcakes in Kensington.

Lauren Charbonneau was among the budding philanthropists, having turned her last two birthdays into full-fledged fundraising events.

Charbonneau was diagnosed with kidney cancer at three years old, and spent the following year of her life facing surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy. Now, the 12-year-old is healthy, treatment-free and paying it forward.

Maisie Gough, 18 months, was on hand for the announcement too.

Jennifer Friesen/For Metro

Maisie Gough, 18 months, was on hand for the announcement too.

Last year alone she raised $1,700 for Kids Cancer Care and the Alberta Children’s Hospital oncology unit by selling homemade cardboard boxes packed with candy.

“After everything that the Alberta Children’s Hospital and Kids Cancer Care has done for me, I decided that I’ve got to do something,” she said. “There are other kids in Alberta that have cancer, and imagine what they would do without those treatments?”

According to Kids Cancer Care, 160 children are diagnosed with cancer every year. Through research, education and family outreach, the organization has a vision to “cure every child and care for every family.”

In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, Kids Cancer Care is hoping to have 150 birthdays registered this year. It’s an ambitious goal, but Charbonneau says she’ll count for one on her 13th birthday in September.

“No matter what, it makes me feel happy to do it,” she said. “Because it means that more kids are going to live – it means they’re going to survive!”

For more information or to register a birthday, go to kidscancercare.ab.ca.

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