Lakeland student plans to give the gift of hope

Kayla Stevens

Michelle Fromm, Managing Editor

Kayla Stevens, senior early childhood/elementary education major, is planning something a little different from your average gift-giving ritual this upcoming holiday season.

On Sunday, Nov. 4, Stevens announced the beginning of her Ro Love Fundraiser via Facebook by saying, “This holiday season, my goal is to raise 1000 dollars for The Ronan Thompson Foundation, a pediatric cancer charity. Serious question: what would I have to do to get you to donate?”

Stevens has been deeply interested in the cause ever since she heard Taylor Swift sing a song called Ronan on Sept. 7. The song was inspired by the story of a young boy by the same name that lost his battle with childhood cancer.

Stevens has done a lot more research since then. She read more about Ronan and his bravery in fighting his battle with cancer. “He continued to celebrate life, to laugh, to brighten the lives of others even as his own life was being stolen from him.”

Since her interest in the topic began, Stevens has begun to follow the stories of several other children with cancer. Their bravery inspires Stevens, who says, “These kids are who I want to be when I grow up.”

As Stevens broadened her research on childhood cancer, she was particularly floored by one statistic.

“Did you know that pediatric cancer receives only 3.8 percent of all cancer research funding?” says Stevens on her fundraiser’s webpage. Stevens aims to change this with her Ro Love Fundraiser for The Ronan Thompson Foundation.

Stevens is very passionate about the cause. When asked what she knew about childhood cancer before she heard Swift’s song, Stevens said, “It’s embarrassing to admit how little I knew. Childhood cancer is the number one disease killer in children. Now that I do know, I wonder how I spent 21 years on this planet doing nothing to change it.”

Stevens believes that others might not treat the idea of childhood cancer very seriously because they think it won’t happen to someone they know. But according to Stevens, seven children pass away every single day due to childhood cancer. “I have no choice but to do something about it,” she said.

But Stevens’ goal is more than just raising 1000 dollars this holiday season. Her hope for a better future with a cure for childhood cancer is distinct. “I want to increase awareness for childhood cancer, to be a voice for those brave warriors who have fought and continue to fight every day. Most of all, I want a cure. If we all work together, I know that we can make it happen in our lifetime,” she said.

As of the writing of this article, Stevens has raised 306 dollars toward the cause and is still looking to reach out to more sponsors. Sponsors can donate by going to

Stevens encourages those interested in learning more about the cause to visit to read Maya Thompson’s blog about her son Ronan’s battle with cancer.

You can also visit to learn more about The Ronan Thompson Foundation, where Stevens’ fundraising results will be donated.


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