CHESAPEAKE, Va. - If you look at the photograph above, you will see a smile so big that it stretches from rope to rope on the swing set.
The last thing this little girl is thinking about is cancer.
"We can’t change the fact that these kids have cancer. We can’t, but we can change how they live with it and how they deal with it," said Eric Newman, Founder of the Chesapeake based non-profit, the Roc Solid Foundation.
Newman, who plays a dual role as the Chief Play Officer, is also a childhood cancer survivor. He said he knows firsthand how play can help a child deal with their cancer diagnosis.
One facet of his foundation specializes in buying and building play sets for families so their children, who are immunocompromised, can still play. Instead of traveling to a public park filled with germs, they have a sanitized "fun-station" in their backyard.
Typically volunteers go to a family's home and build the play set, but COVID-19 has put that on hold.
"One of the hardest things to do is to say no to a child fighting pediatric cancer," Newman said.
Rather than telling families that they couldn't give them a jungle gym, they adapted and started the Roc Solid On Demand program.
Roc Solid On Demand (or “ROD”) brings play to kids fighting cancer even if they live outside Hampton Roads. The foundation packages and ships the entire Roc Solid playset experience with all the resources and detailed instructions to make it a great day.
"As soon as they sign up, by the push of a button, we work with our manufacturers to send the play sets to their location and what we do is we try to rally the community around those kids to be able to build the play sets for them," Newman said.
If your child is fighting cancer, the nonprofit encourages you to find a “host” for your playset project. This could be a friend, an extended family member or a local group (church, school, civic group, etc.)… think about who’s been asking “What can I do to help?”
From now until October 31, Roc Solid is aiming to raise $300,000 to buy and ship the play sets to 200 kids across the country.
To help achieve this goal, they have started the 'boop' campaign.
"'Boop' means, yes, that we are able to build hope for children and their families fighting pediatric cancer. By the push of a button we deploy hope," Newman said.
The sound a 'boop' makes is playful and a fun way for people to spread the word. You 'boop' and donate $1, making it possible for another kid to play.
"It's a simple as pushing a button that you can change the life of a child fighting pediatric cancer," he said.
Click here to donate to the 'boop' campaign or apply for a play set for your family.