Anderson Sisters Team Up to Raise Money in Fight Against Cancer
More4kids Reporter: Shannon Serpette
HENRY, Ill. — Like any sisters, 9-year-old Kaitlyn Anderson and 8-year-old Brynna Anderson of central Illinois have times when they don’t get along. But one thing they can always agree on is the importance of helping others.
As soon as they were old enough to understand what helping others meant, they started doing it — raising money for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and bringing food items in to their school during annual food drives.
This year, the girls’ all-kid Relay team, Team Kid, is attempting to raise $1,000 by the date of their Relay on June 10, 2017. To help their team reach their goal of $1000, donate at –> American Cancer Society Relay For Life
Like many other children, the girls’ lives have been touched by cancer and that has helped spur their interest in Relay for Life.
“They know that they lost their grandpa, among other family members, to cancer, so they understand that they are helping find a cure so no one else has to go through that,” their mother, Erika Anderson, said. “Recently, they watched their Aunt Shelly go through many cancer treatments, and we are blessed that she is now in remission. They have a pretty good picture of what cancer can do to a person.”
The girls work hard each year to raise funds for Relay for Life, and last year’s fundraiser did more than only support the fight against cancer. For that fundraiser, the girls made and sold bracelets that used paper beads which were crafted by women from Uganda. It supported two causes – helping the poor in Uganda and fighting cancer. They spread the word in their neighborhoods with the help of their parents and their community digital story telling app.
“My mom found the bracelets and thought they were cool,” Kaitlyn said.
Brynna said Relay for Life is her favorite charitable activity out of all the ones she has helped with.
“I like Relay the most because a lot of people get sick and it helps them so they can get a cure,” Brynna said.
Kaitlyn, who is in the fourth grade, also volunteers her time to spread the message of a nationwide student development program called Character Counts at her school.
“Me and the Character Counts group, we practice songs with our puppets,” Kaitlyn said.
Then, every month or so at her grade school, Kaitlyn and the other puppeteers put on a puppet show for the younger kids. The shows emphasize the importance of good character and highlight six pillars of character — trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.
“We do a show for the pre-K through third grade,” Kaitlyn said. “I like it because it’s fun. It feels good because you’re showing the other kids how to use character. It makes people act better than before they saw the show.”
Brynna, who is in second grade, loves watching the shows, and just recently signed up to join Character Counts too so she can help younger children make better behavioral choices.
The girls both believe the lessons that Character Counts offers are greatly needed at their school.
“We have bullying reports at school, and a lot of kids fill them out. Some people make fun of the people who fill out the reports. That just makes the bullying worse,” Kaitlyn said.
A bracelet Kaitlyn wears every day serves as a reminder both for herself and others who see it. The bracelet has a simple phrase that’s a powerful message – it says “kind is cool.” That’s a motto their whole family seems to live by.
Their parents, Ryan and Erika Anderson, do a lot to improve their hometown, whether it’s supporting youth sports teams, Ryan’s work with the Rotary, or fighting cancer through Relay for Life.
The girls have particularly noticed all the effort their mom puts in to help others. Erika received a local 2016 Community Leader of the Year award for all her volunteer work.
“I thought it was cool because there were a lot of people that volunteered,” Kaitlyn said. “I felt pretty proud to have my mom get that award.”
Erika is quick to brush off her own contributions, but is proud of her daughters’ commitment to changing the world one deed at a time. It’s something she has made a priority when raising her children.
“I’m always encouraging kindness and thinking of those less fortunate, and I always make sure they understand the ‘why’ behind whatever they are being asked to do. That is something that my mom instilled in me,” Erika said.
Whether asking for donations for Relay for Life or gathering items for the food pantry, the Anderson girls have learned how generous people can be when they are asked to step up and contribute to the greater good.
“Most people want to help,” Brynna said.
Seeing and hearing about the struggles other people face is a constant reminder to the girls about how fortunate they are when they get to do things like take a nice vacation or have a good meal.
“Some people can’t do what we can do. Some people don’t have that much stuff. I want to help them get that stuff,” Kaitlyn said. “I know my mom and dad work hard, but some people don’t have jobs. So they don’t have food and shelter.”
Seeing how tough other people have it motivates the Anderson girls to help, but it also teaches them an important lesson – it helps them keep a healthy perspective when something goes wrong in their own lives.
“Sometimes when bad things happen to me, I think about how much worse it could be, and then I don’t feel so bad,” Kaitlyn said.
photo: Brynna Anderson (left) and her older sister, Kaitlyn Anderson (right), may sometimes argue with each other at home, but they are determined to make this world a better, kinder place. They haven’t even reached double digits yet with their ages, and they’re already positively impacting other people’s lives.
Lets help the Anderson Sisters crush their goal of raising $1000 for Cancer. You can donate here –> Relay For Life