Greek life fights against childhood cancer through B+

Every school day, 46 children are diagnosed with cancer.

One school day five years ago, Shoshone Truro-Allee was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 14.

After many rounds of chemotherapy, Truro-Allee is now a proud survivor and a leading force on Chapman University’s campus for the fight against childhood cancer.

Truro-Allee, a sophomore strategic and corporate communication major, is the charity liaison of The B+ Foundation Chapter at Chapman, a club dedicated to raising money and awareness about childhood cancer.

“Seeing the whole community rally around these kids and this foundation is so cool because I get to share what I’m so passionate about,” Truro-Allee said. “I get to see how this is affecting their lives and how much they’re starting to care about it.”

Part of Truro-Allee’s job is to help keep in communication with the sorority men and women who participate in the B+ Hero Program.

Through the B+ Hero Program, sororities and fraternities are matched with children diagnosed with cancer.

Becca Batkin, president of The B+ Foundation Chapter at Chapman University, says this program fits very well with greek life on campus.

“The Greek community got involved because they are already such a big community, there is already a sisterhood and brotherhood within that and they are ready to give that love to a child,” the senior strategic and corporate communication major said.

Carly Bergstein, program director for The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, said in order to be matched with a B+ Hero, the sorority or fraternity must show commitment to the organization since it is such a large responsibility.

“If the sorority or fraternity makes enough participation and if we feel that they are ready for this responsibility, we will reach out to a social worker and receive a referral or we will go through our own database and look for local families in need of this support,” said Bergstein.

Bergstein says that the smallest actions of love given to these children makes the largest impact.

“Their role is to be friends with these kids. Sometimes by talking to them and sometimes just by being by their side is what makes the biggest difference,” Bergstein said.

Bergstein also notes that this mentorship program changes the lives of the students.

“Although it is great for the kids, the students really get so much out of it too,” Bergstein said.

Alyssa Kaplan, B+ team captain for sorority Kappa Alpha Theta’s chapter, said that her relationship with Karah, the girl who was paired with Kappa Alpha Theta, has changed her outlook on life.

“It just opens my eyes to realize that on my worst day, there are so many families going through so much worse. And to be so thankful for the health I have and just seeing a little bit more personally through this family,” the sophomore integrated education studies major said.

Karah, whose last name was not released due to B+ privacy policy, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when she was eight. Karah received her last treatment in March and is now cancer-free. Kaplan says that she tries to organize sorority hang-outs with Karah as much as possible, but that she’s always communicating with her through texts, phone calls and even FaceTime.

“Whenever I’m not in class, I am texting her, when I’m driving to work for a half an hour I would talk to her on the phone,” Kaplan said. “It made me feel good in a sense that when she was home bored she thought of me as the person to reach out to and talk to.”

Kaplan says that Karah is always so excited to meet more and more of the girls and asks for all of their phone numbers after she meets them.

“To know that she can text any 200 girls in the sorority just to put a smile on her face and distract her from what she is facing that day is so great,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan says the most challenging part of scheduling hangouts with Karah is coordinating schedules.

“My hope is for this year for Karah and B+ to be more integrated within our sorority. So that when we schedule a visit to see Karah, that it’s 20 to 30 girls who want to go not just five or six. I want there to be more people to come to all of these things,” Kaplan said.

For senior biology major Liam Barnes, being the B+ team captain for Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity has its challenges.

“Being a fraternity on campus is kind of hard to get a good reputation just because of what the reputation of fraternities are across the U.S.” Barnes said. “I think it’s helped us and taught people that there are things bigger than fraternities and partying. I think it’s shown people that Pikes (members of Pi Kappa Alpha) aren’t all about partying, we actually do philanthropy. We’re really just a group of guys who have a lot in common and who want to do good for the community.”

The Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity was matched with Coben, a 10-year-old boy who was diagnosed with T-cell leukemia, whose last name was not released due to B+ privacy policy.

Barnes said Coben is pretty isolated from his friends and has to stay at home since his last brain surgery.

“He doesn’t have a larger scale support system and that’s where we jump in,” Barnes said.

Lisa Sparks, dean of the school of communication studies, said the interaction between the kids and college students is so important because it shows them what their future could look like.

“They’re having really complicated conversations in the health setting, they need a normalizing break from that and meeting (students) who are five, ten years ahead of where they would like to see themselves,” Sparks said. “It gives them a different kind of hope and is really important because they need role models that they can relate to.”

With this new experience, Barnes hopes to push other students out of their comfort zone and to challenge others to make a direct impact and difference in these children’s lives.



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