Grace Callwood is being recognized this month as a 2016 Nickelodeon HALO Award honoree. (Photo courtesy of Lena Coutinho)
Grace established the organization in 2012, shortly after being diagnosed with Stage IV non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a form of cancer, at the age of seven. She had to miss school and take a break from her favorite hobby, dance, because her body became too weak. Still, she found that she had enough strength to volunteer.
After gaining weight from the chemotherapy, Callwood donated her brand-new back-to-school clothes to two girls who had recently lost everything in a fire. This decision inspired Callwood to help a hospital and a foundation for sick children by running a lemonade stand, raising $633 in four hours. And then she decided to start a charitable group of her own: the We Cancerve Movement, an organization that creates activities to bring happiness to homeless, sick and foster children through events and donated goods. "It gave me a good feeling," Grace said recently, "so I kept going." In four years, We Cancerve has served 3,743 homeless, sick and foster youth with plans to add another 1,300 by December 2016.
Grace is now cancer-free. She was one of four kids honored at this year’s Nickelodeon HALO Awards, a concert special that airs Sunday and celebrates kids who are "helping and leading others." She's one of many kids who are trying to better their communities.
Grace Callwood receives her award from host Nick Cannon at the 2016 Nickelodeon HALO Awards, which air Sunday. Callwood started a nonprofit for needy kids after she was diagnosed with cancer. (Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)
"I'm very honored to be a 2016 Nickelodeon HALO Awards Honoree. This award presents another opportunity for me to bring more awareness to helping homeless, sick and foster children, and to inspire my peers to make a difference in their communities," said Callwood, who is also the 2016 Children's Cancer Foundation Ambassador. "I am so glad to have so much support from my board of advisors, my community and my friends and family."
"My board of advisors has great ideas, gives advice and amazing feedback, and are very helpful," she continued. "From the start, I've had the support of my family and friends, and from countless people in our community who believe in the work that We Cancerve does for homeless, sick and foster children."
Callwood is a sixth-grade student at Edgewood Middle School, where she excels in math and reading, plays trumpet in the school band and serves on the Student Government Association.
Her school recently held an assembly "to show their support and pride for the honor Grace has received in being selected for the HALO award," Jillian Lader, Harford County Public Schools manager of communications, said.
Grace's group recently held "Breakfast Bags Bonanza," a major stuffing party, on Nov. 17 at the Boys & Girls Club of Havre de Grace, where the community was invited to help decorate and fill brown paper sacks with nonperishable breakfast items for 500 homeless and hungry young people in Harford County for the Thanksgiving break.
Grace E. G. Callwood, left, is shown with members of WeCancerve Movement's all youth board of advisors Alexis Bell, Erin Acerno and Amol Menon during a recent trip to a local fabric store to purchase fleece to make wearable blankets for hospitalized children. Callwood won a $650 grant from the Karma for Cara Foundation earlier this fall for the project. Bell, age 11, will chair this project. Callwood is being honored by Nicholodeon this month for her community service. (Courtesy of T' Jae Gibson / Provided photo)
To date, We Cancerve has donated more than $9,000 in cash grants to Sinai Hospital, Casey Cares Foundation, Harford Family House, Anna's House, Eastside Family Emergency Shelter and the Sharing Table, and plus more than $23,000 in products to more than seven homeless shelters, four hospitals and a group home for children in foster care.
"You don't always have to do something huge," Grace said, encouraging kids to find ways to volunteer. "Just do what you can."
We Cancerve has established an accumulator fund with the Community Foundation of Harford County (CFHC). The We Cancerve Accumulator Fund will eventually become a permanent fund of CFHC to support the work of the We Cancerve Movement. Contributions made to the Community Foundation of Harford County are tax-deductible, and can be designated to the We Cancerve Accumulator Fund.
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman and Grace Callwood, 11-year-old Founder of the WeCancerve Foundation would like to welcome you to participate in SOCKtober.
The Community Foundation of Harford County is a 501(c)(3) public charity (nonprofit) supported by the community through donations. For more information, visit www.wecancerve.org.
Watch Grace receive her honor at the must-see concert event of the season, the 2016 HALO Awards, hosted by Nick Cannon and featuring special appearances by top music artists Jason Derulo, Hailee Steinfeld, Zedd, Alessia Cara, Daya, Jake Miller, Jacob Whitesides, Dance Moms star JoJo Siwa, and stars from the Nickelodeon hit shows The Thundermans and School of Rock, premiering Sunday, Nov. 27, at 7 p.m. (ET/PT), across Nickelodeon USA, TeenNick and Nicktoons! For more information about the 2016 Nickelodeon HALO Awards, visit nick.com/halo16. Congratulations on your award, Grace!!
Article sources: The Aegis, The Washington Post's KidsPost; Additional source: Maryland.gov.
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