2016 Sunshine Kids SpokesKids
Each year a young cancer patient is selected to represent kids with cancer everywhere.
Arrow 2017 SpokesKids

Arrow 2016 SpokesKids

Arrow 2015 SpokesKids

Arrow 2014 SpokesKids

Arrow 2013 SpokesKids

Arrow 2012 SpokesKids

Arrow 2011 SpokesKids

Arrow 2010 SpokesKids

Arrow 2009 SpokesKids

Arrow 2008 SpokesKids

Arrow 2007 SpokesKids

Arrow 2006 SpokesKids

Brittney Rodriguez   Brittney Rodriguez
Austin, Texas
2016 Sunshine Kids National SpokesKid
 
  My name is Brittney Rodriguez. I am currently 18 years old and live in Austin, Texas.

I was a regular teenager, spent most of my time playing soccer and going to school, loved reading and hanging out with my friends and family whenever I had the free time. Most people would tell you I was very adventurous and never had a dull moment. I love seeing others succeed and will do a lot to see a smile across some else's face.

I've played soccer ever since I could remember. Being an active person always kept me on my toes and ready for anything. Around my junior year, I was going to soccer tryouts and working at an Italian restaurant. I was always busy, but I can still remember feeling perfectly healthy and ready to start the year. On March 17th, 2015 I was very sick and couldn't get to work that day. My boss told me I that needed a doctor’s note to resume working. I immediately went to the nearest ER where they told me I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It was a shock not only to me, but also to my loved ones.

After my diagnosis, I spent the rest of the summer in and out of the hospital. Although I have fully recovered from cancer, I will never forget the depths of my experiences that made me the woman I am today. I am stronger today with a better understanding for beauty, healing and the gift of life. I will forever have empathy for kids diagnosed with cancer and be able to connect with them.

The Sunshine Kids program made me realize that I was not alone fighting this disease. On September 19th, 2015 I was fortunate enough to be invited on a Sunshine Kids trip to California. That trip is where I connected the most with other kids during my treatment. Sunshine kids gave me courage, hope and insight into the power of the program. I then knew and understood how my peers felt and the emotions they carried with them every day.

I would like to teach others the things I've learned through my experience and help them to cope with their battle. I am very thankful to be a SpokesKid for Sunshine Kids and to every helping hand that has been extended to me. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me and others around me!

     
     
Darius Jackson   Darius Jackson
San Diego, CA
2016 Sunshine Kids National SpokesKid
 
  My name is Darius Jackson. I am 16 years old and I was born at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, FL and currently live in San Diego, CA.

I have always been an extremely active teenager playing basketball every day, hanging out with my friends and just having fun being a kid. My friends and family say that I am a fun loving person with a big heart that loves to play sports video games, listen to music and play basketball. Basketball is my passion and first love. I want to be like Kevin Durant and play in the NBA and also be a pilot someday. Crazy combination huh? LOL, I know, but I wouldn't change a thing.

Upon my dad's return from his deployment in 2012, we moved from Washington to San Diego and my world began to collapse in front of my very eyes. I was in a new place, at a new school that I didn't like and I was tired all the time. I was in a very dark place in my life and my body began to hurt very badly. My parents took me to the doctor on multiple occasions, but they chalked it up to "growing pains" because I'm pretty tall for my age. After numerous aches and pains and trips to the ER, they finally discovered that I had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). My family couldn't believe it, and neither could I.

I spent the next few months in the pediatric ward at Balboa Naval Hospital undergoing chemotherapy. My saving grace was that my family and my oncologist Dr. Pene was there by my side every step of the way. We gave each other strength and we helped each other get through this trying time. I was scheduled to start high school, but I had to wait until the second semester due to my extended treatment schedule. So I was given another obstacle by starting the 9th grade in the middle of the year at a brand new school. I am proud to report that I am well on my way to getting healthy and I can't wait until I'm done with my treatments this summer.

In January of 2016 I was invited to attend the New Orleans Sunshine Kids trip and all I have to say is WOW and THANK YOU! It was fun to finally travel without my family and meet some great people. Through this wonderful experience, I was able to meet some outstanding kids who have become my friends. We all really understand each other because they have all been through similar medical circumstances. I used my positive energy to forge a lasting bond with the group and the experience was priceless! I believe that positivity and genuinely caring for the next person is the key to life no matter what you are going through. You can always find a reason to smile and help someone out. Cancer CAN BE BEAT, you just have to remain positive and take the fight to cancer’s doorstep.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sunshine Kids again for giving me the chance to be carefree for a short period of time and just be me. No hospitals, no treatments, just great people and lots of fun. You gave me an opportunity to charge my "positive vibes" battery and I'm ready to help spread that positivity to anyone dealing with similar circumstances to help them overcome the daily grind of treatments and whatever else may be ailing them. Just like my parents always tell me....pace yourself son; life is not a sprint it's a marathon, YOU GOT THIS!

     
     
Natalie McCastland   Natalie McCastland
Lamont, IL
2016 Sunshine Kids National SpokesKid
 
  Hi, my name is Natalie McCastland. I’m 17 years old and I live in Chicago, IL. I have been dancing for 14 years and I dance competitively with my company. I also love waterskiing; when I was 2 years old, my dad would run along the beach with me standing on my skis tied together and I haven’t stopped skiing since. My freshman year of high school was better than I could have hoped. I had a lot of new friends, I was on the varsity dance team and my grades were great. Sophomore year was looking bright as well, until my right knee started hurting during dance practices. I’ve always had a high pain tolerance and I thought I’d just pulled something, however, it never got better. I went for an MRI and my picture perfect high school life came crashing down when they said it was cancer. I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in my right tibia in December 2014.

My treatment was at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. I don’t remember much about that first day in the hospital, meeting with the doctors and hearing about treatment. I do know my only question was if I was going to lose my hair, to which they said “yes”. I remember thinking I could will myself for it not to happen - apparently I was wrong. I had 15 chemo treatments in all, and limb salvage surgery to replace my knee. Although there were a lot of bumps along the road; unexpected hospital stays, fevers, transfusions and rashes, I can now say that I’m part bionic and a cancer survivor!

I first heard about Sunshine Kids when I was going in for a treatment. My nurse practitioner said there was a group that hosts trips for kids with cancer from all over the country. It sounded like a great way to meet kids that I could connect with because we were all going through similar situations. I went on the Haunted Halloween Getaway in October 2015 in New Orleans. It would be my first trip alone without my family and I was a little nervous. As soon as I got there though, all my anxieties were gone. It was the most amazing and fun experience I could have had and I met other Kids there that I will never forget. All the volunteers were so wonderful and they did everything they could to give us a one-of-a-kind experience.

I am thankful to the Sunshine Kids Foundation for including me in their trip, giving me the chance to forget about cancer, meeting the best and strongest group of kids and memories that will last a lifetime!

     
     
Shelby Whitson   Shelby Whitson
Lake Stevens, WA
2016 Sunshine Kids National SpokesKid
 
  Hello my name is Shelby. On March 18, 2015, two weeks after my 16th birthday, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. After diagnosis, I spent 2 months in the hospital missing school and family time. Since I was off my feet for so long, muscle atrophy caused me to lose much of my strength. Learning how to walk normally again has been a really painful and time consuming task.

If you ask my family what I was like before I was diagnosed with cancer, they will tell you I'm a reader not a runner. I always end up finding underground writers who only have one or two novels published. Recently, I stumbled across a list of old songs that was a soundtrack to a book that I've reread 10 times over. I started to research the songs and my eyes were opened to older music I had never heard of before. Music has always been a big thing in my life. In school, I was in choir from the 3rd grade until my sophomore year of high school. Even now, I listen to music every single day.

When my doctor asked me if I was interested in the Sunshine Kids trip to New Orleans, I was excited but also hesitant. My walking still wasn't the best. However, my doctor, my family and even some of my friends had faith that I would be able to do this trip. I was ready to be faced with this challenge and come out on the other side with stronger legs. If I could walk on this trip, I could do anything! When we got there it was amazing - everything from the restaurants to the parades to dancing at our very own Ball! This trip gave me confidence in my own two legs and help me realize it's good to forget and just have a little fun.

This trip was a self-inspiring journey for me and I hope that everyone who ever gets offered a chance to go along with the Sunshine Kids will take it. I personally just want to thank the Sunshine Kids crew for organizing these amazing events for kids like me all around the world who have cancer.

     
     
  Jason Headley
Hampton, VA
2016 Sunshine Kids National SpokesKid
 
  Hi my name is Jason Headley. I am 17 years old and I was born in Staten Island, NY. On October 22, 2013, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. At first, I didn't know what to think. Was it going to change my life forever? Will people see me differently? I knew that no matter what, as long as I stayed positive, I could make it.

I have gone through a series of chemotherapy treatments, bone marrow biopsies and lumbar punctures, but in the end I knew, the medical team at Children's Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, VA would always be there for me as a second family.

I am a very outgoing person. I love to cook and hope that when I get older, I can become a chef. I also love to fish during the spring; when I fish I feel at peace. My favorite sports are football, hockey and soccer but my favorite thing to do would probably be hanging out with friends.

When I was told that I going to attend an event with the Sunshine Kids, I was pretty excited. Even though I didn't know what we were going to do, I'm just the type to do first and think later! When I met other kids that were going through the same thing, I was very pleased to learn that I wasn't the only one fighting cancer. I am very thankful for the Sunshine Kids because I made life-long friends who understand what I’m going through while getting the chance to enjoy a once in a lifetime trip full of just plain fun.

Contact Us  |  Media Center  |  Help Us  |  Privacy Policy FacebookInstagramYoutubeTwitterGoogle+
© The Sunshine Kids Foundation
A Non-Profit Foundation For Children With Cancer
2814 Virginia St | Houston | Texas | 77098