How a Reston-based charity is helping kids battling cancer stay connected with friends and family

Hopecam, a nonprofit charity organization from Reston, Virginia, is marking its 20th anniversary of helping young pediatric cancer patients keep in touch with their friends and classmates.

Founded in 2003, Hopecam connects children with their loved ones over video calls. The program now reaches kids in all 50 states, helping them ward off social isolation while they battle cancer.

“We use technology to connect pediatric cancer patients to their classrooms, their friends, their families. They now use it for telemedicine appointments, and we provide them with a laptop or a tablet free of charge,” said Kristine Milch, development coordinator at Hopecam.

“If they don’t have a Wi-Fi connection, we’ll set that up for them. If they’re interested in connecting to their classroom, we’ll coordinate with the school to set up a time that they can join for a specific class or maybe to eat lunch with their friends or a story time or an art class.”

The majority of children helped by Hopecam are from low income families, and an estimated 4,000 kids across the country have used its services.

The underlying philosophy is that it’s important to keep children connected to their community.

“We’ll do virtual pizza parties, Google Hangouts … we’ve had people take them on virtual field trips. We’ll pretty much do whatever it is that they want … when kids are battling cancer, they have so much going on medically and physically, that is just completely overwhelming to the family. And I think sometimes, the social connection gets lost,” said Milch.

To mark its anniversary, Hopecam is in the midst of a major fundraising campaign.

“This is our 20th anniversary and our goal with that is to raise enough money so that no child who requests our services is ever denied,” said Milch.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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