By Janee Law
When she started the Whip Pediatric Cancer campaign on Aug. 17, 2015, Melville teen Jordan Belous’ goal was to raise $10,000 in funds to benefit pediatric cancer research.
But Belous’ cause has whipped far past her goal. After one full year, she has raised $41,000.
“It’s really amazing,” Belous, 17, said on Monday. “I wouldn’t have ever thought that I would be where I am today and it’s just a really rewarding feeling knowing how many people I’ve reached and made aware about pediatric cancer.”
The #WhipPediatricCancer campaign is a dance challenge to rapper Silentò’s smash-hit song “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae).” Funds raised are donated to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan.
The campaign has spread within the Town of Huntington and as far as Australia and the United Kingdom. Belous said the Facebook page, Whip Pediatric Cancer, has gained over 42,000 followers.
“They tell me that I inspire them but really the kids are who inspire me and that’s why I do what I do,” Belous said. “Everyone has been very supportive, whether it’s my parents, my friends, family and of course the followers who have liked and shared throughout the year and left words of encouragement for different kids who are fighting. The support has been really great.”
Belous added that she will continue to spread the campaign into schools by launching a “Heart of GOLD” program in September for pediatric cancer awareness month.
Each school will get 1,000 gold hearts that will be distributed to the students, who will decorate the paper heart at home and ask for a suggested donation of $2 from parents. When students return to school, the decorated heart will be placed on a wall that reads, “This School Has a Heart of Gold.”
Belous said she hopes this project will continue to raise awareness and push her campaign even further, with a current fundraising goal at $45,000.
“I know that we’ll surpass that and hopefully raise $60,000 or more,” she said. “I’m trying to keep it going and keep on raising awareness and I think that this is a really good idea.”
When Belous was 3 years old, her mother, Victoria, was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer typically found in children. While her mother survived the cancer after seeking treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering, Belous was inspired to put an end to pediatric cancer ever since she turned 7.
Now, after her campaign celebrated its first year on Wednesday, Belous said that her ultimate goal is to continue to raise awareness, help find a cure and “keep the kids smiling.”