By Heather Wilson, writer, Dell
September is Children’s Cancer Care Awareness Month at Dell. Around the globe, Dell team members are honoring this time in many ways to recognize families affected by children’s cancer, the leading cause of death by diseasepast infancy among children in the United States.
For Lauren Richards in Austin, Texas, joining her coworkers to honor the cause meant walking and talking about her beloved daughter Caroline, who passed away at age 12 in January 2015 after a battle with a rare bone cancer,osteosarcoma.
“She was in sixth grade and 11-years-old when she was diagnosed. She was a great student and all around great kid,” Richards explains, a senior global mobility manager at Dell. “Cancer does not discriminate. We are your regular family next door.”
Richards works at Dell’s Round Rock Campus in Texas – the company’s international headquarters. She joined over 1,000 Dell employees on Sept. 1 for the company’s third annual children’s cancer care awareness walk. Dell is continuing to coordinate a number of other awareness-building activities throughout the month.
Richards can easily recall how Caroline insisted she’d walk on her own at last year’s annual Dell walk, where countless signs of encouragement were held by her coworkers in support of the spirited teenager. Caroline wore a fedora and heart-shaped sunglasses, “And she didn’t want me near her with that wheelchair,” Richards remembers. “She walked a mile that day.”
Honoring Children's Cancer Awareness Month
Since Caroline’s passing, Richards says her family is honoring her by raising money and awareness for childhood cancer research. Caroline’s star quality and struggle gained worldwide support and she became an ambassador for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
In 2014, Dell gave over $36,000 to its partners as an outcome of its September activities with employees.
Dell’s goal this year: to raise US $50,000 by giving $1 to its three genomic research partners for every Dell team member that bikes, runs or walks as part of its Children’s Cancer Care Awareness Month.
Funding will be directed to Dell’s genomic partners the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), the Gustave-Roussy, and Sri Shankara Cancer Foundation – as part of its Children’s Cancer Care program, one of Dell’s signature giving programs and an integral part of its 2020 Legacy of Good Plan.
By pairing monetary and technology donations with team member volunteerism, Dell employees are highly engaged in Dell’s multiyear, multimillion-dollar commitment to fight children’s cancer by donating technology and expertise to help pediatric cancer researchers accelerate treatments.
“Cancer is a topic that hits close to home for many team members – in many different ways,” Dell’s Global Community Service Manager Jennifer Friday Jones says. “We also know it’s an exciting time for healthcare. Major innovations in technology are driving the advancement of things like genomics and personalized medicine, so cancer patient care plans are smarter – and can start sooner.”
While children’s cancer care can be a very technical world for a company steeped in advancing its technology solutions to help researchers, it’s also a very personal one for Dell and its employees.
“Dell becomes familiar with patients, researchers – and physicians like Dr. Giselle Sholler,” says Bruno Sarda, director of Global Sustainability Operations for Dell.
The initiative has rallied impressive support from thousands of Dell volunteers.
Last year, Dell supported more than 22,000 patients through funding, technology and expertise – and 23 percent of Dell team members volunteered over 45,000 hours to help patients and family members across 55 programs around the globe.
Now, Dell is broadening its Children’s Cancer Care Awareness Month activities by making it easier for global team members to join the cause, no matter their location.
Dell leveraged its Conexus employee resource group (ERG) to launch activities to enable team members to walk, bike or run for childhood cancer prevention awareness and volunteer their time to craft headbands for children with cancer.
Conexus connects team members working in a flexible capacity such as full-time remote work, occasional teleworking or working at variable hours. It also enables team members who work remotely, but in the same geographic area, to volunteer together.
Richards says Dell’s support of her remote work while her daughter received treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, allowed her to maintain her career while focusing on her family. More than 25 percent of Dell team members are enrolled in flexible work programs, and that number expected to rise.
“One of our Legacy of Good goals is to have 50 percent of our workforce in a flexible work program. Our Community Service Programs have to mirror the volunteer needs of our workforce in order to drive engagement in a way that allows team members to volunteer wherever they are,” Jones said.
Children’s cancer care is one of the key focus areas of Dell’s Giving Program. Learn more at dell.com/communities