It was the early afternoon on Sept. 27 when a handful of children took a trip to the Amazon Fulfillment Center right here in Lake Nona off of Boggy Creek Road. These children were special – they were all hospital patients at the Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital – and they all showed a special interest in STEM. Camp Amazon was beginning, and there was a massive surprise in store for the children and their families! During the annual Amazon Goes Gold campaign in September, Amazon packages are gold to represent the childhood cancer awareness color.
Camp Amazon was a day full of robots and STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – that encouraged the children to not only play but dream of their future innovation. The children and their families kicked off the camp with a VIP tour of the fulfillment center with a behind-the-scenes look at the assembly lines and most importantly to a young child with an interest in STEM-related activities … robots!
Once the tour was completed, the children built and played with Vex Robotics kits with help from Amazon volunteers and enjoyed catering from Chick-fil-A. After their stomachs were filled with chicken nuggets and mac-n-cheese, Amazon Orlando’s General Manager Kirc Savage stood in front of the group to make a potentially life-changing announcement.
“Today, Amazon, we’re going to donate $30,000 to Arnold Palmer,” Savage proudly announced as he is also a cancer survivor. The room erupted in cheers and applause.
“Across Amazon this year, we’re going to donate $4.25 million to entities like this that are trying to further the cause of both awareness for cancer research and trying to get to a cure,” Savage told Nonahood News. “Camp Amazon is the physical piece of it where we bring in … kids into the sites to get them hands-on with STEM.”
“We really appreciate getting to partner with organizations like Amazon for an event like this,” said Katie McMichael, Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital Child Life Manager. “It’s very encouraging for us to see our patients enjoy such a unique experience with their families.”
How did Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital get selected? Savage explained how the hospital is driving support for the kids and also driving research to try and find a cure.
“So, how do we add value to them? Physically, we can help out the kids and inspire the kids, give the kids … gifts, but this money goes towards furthering Arnold Palmer’s efforts.”
Nonahood News spoke with some of the children and their parents to hear more about their stories with Arnold Palmer and Amazon.
Taylor Blanks, mother of Cameron Forbes, one of the children who attended Camp Amazon, stated, “Cameron was diagnosed with laryngeal papillomatosis when he was nine months old, and Arnold Palmer has helped us with research on something that’s so rare.”
Laryngeal papillomatosis causes tumors to grow inside the voice box, vocal cords, or the air passage from the nose to the lungs.
“It felt inspiring … because I was a kid that could never talk, and now since I’m right, like, here with everybody that I know that can hear my voice, it made me feel inspiring,” exclaimed Cameron Forbes.
Caleb Morales, another participant in Camp Amazon, recounted the day’s events with a huge smile on his face. “Oh my god, I was like, the happiest thing like ever!”
His mother, Nancy Morales, explained how this $30,000 donation from Amazon will truly help families like hers.
“Oh, it meant a lot because you know some of the kids … have to go to clinical trials like my son is and … for this trial of course we need that money, I mean to be able to … execute those trials. And because it’s pretty hard for us as a family to raise, you know, this amount of money in big amounts so this meant a lot to us,” Nancy Morales stated. “And I know it will help, you know, a lot of families in the clinics, too.”
This year’s Amazon Goes Gold initiative was a success! The patients and their families even received the opportunity to sign one of the Amazon robots that would be displayed in the entrance of the warehouse!
“Hosting Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital patients for this year’s Amazon Goes Gold in Orlando was an unforgettable experience,” Savage detailed. “As a cancer survivor myself, this event was deeply personal, and seeing these children playing and inspired to keep learning and creating was incredible. Each child displayed a unique curiosity for STEM, and they all left lasting impressions on our team here in Orlando.”
Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for children in the United States. However, there’s a discrepancy between the amount of federal funding for childhood cancer research and adult cancer research, according to the press release for the event. More than 300,000 children will be diagnosed with pediatric cancer in 2019, and it is the leading non-contagious disease causing the death of children around the world.
Did you go gold this September?