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Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City

The Andrew Olson Foundation met with Child Life Services Director at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City to see how we could help. One immediate need was for activities for children to do while they receive their chemotherapy at the oncology clinic. It’s not unusual for a visit to last 4-6 hours when a child or teen is receiving chemo. Child Life said that iPads are the favorite pastime among the patients and quickly checked out. Typically there may be 20-30 children receiving chemotherapy on any given day and there are only 5 iPads. Each iPad costs $500 and Children’s Mercy loads special software that is child friendly, age appropriate and with specific safety features for the patients to use. Through the generosity of our supporters, Andrew’s Foundation provided 5 new iPads to Children’s Mercy. Here’s hoping some pediatric patients will have an easier visit!

A Look at 2018


Our foundation teamed up with Bags of Fun KC to provide backpacks of activities to children who are newly diagnosed with cancer. The patient is surveyed so that the activities and toys are selected with the patient’s favorite hobbies and interests in mind. It is a great way to bring some much needed joy to kiddos when they’re in the hospital when the days can feel so long. The bag includes crafts, books, toys and a Kindle with gift card to download favorite age appropriate apps. Each backpack costs approximately $450-$500. We plan on continuing this support throughout 2019. If you’d like to help underwrite the cost of a backpack, please donate to our foundation. Any amount is greatly appreciated.

$7,000 donated to Make A Wish Foundation

The Andrew Olson Foundation has donated $7000 to the Make A Wish Foundation to grant wishes to children with life threatening illnesses. The Andrew Olson Foundation was started in 2009 in memory of Andrew Olson, son of Dave and Jacqueline Olson of Wildwood. The Andrew Olson Foundation, whose goal is to help families who have children with cancer, has sent families to Disney World, provided Christmas gifts to families and funded an Eagle Scout remodeling project at the Howard Park Early Childhood Center.

Picture: left to right: Phillip Olson and John Olson, brothers of Andrew Olson; Julia Hart, VP Finance, Make A Wish; Denise Belton, Program Services, Make A Wish; Stacie Crabtree, Development Coordinator, Make A Wish

Wishes really do come true….because of you! Thank you for supporting our foundation.


Wish #1, Kyle and his family head to Disney World. Wish #2, Riley gets new seats for his ’72 Charger

Two additional wishes are the works and we have exciting projects we are working on too. Stay tuned…….

Thank you for helping Andrew’s Foundation make wishes come true!

One of Andrew’s favorite places was Florida and most of all Disney World.  Andrew was granted a wish through Dream Factory  for our trip to Disney World.  We stayed at “Give Kids The World” and went to all of the theme parks during our stay. Below left is a photo of the first ride we took at SeaWorld.  If you zoom in, Andrew is in the red poncho next to me.  Look at the fantastic smile on his face.  All the others, including me, have the look of horror.  All he said when we got off was, “let’s go again”.  And that’s what we did, over and over.  You see, with the “dream pass”, you just go to the front of the line, no waiting.  I guess that’s the point-you are supposed to get a life time of memories on the trip and that happened.

The Andrew Olson Foundation has granted some wishes including sending a boy and his family to Disney World.  Zack, shown below, with Spiderman during breakfast just before they left for Florida, was the first child Andrew’s Foundation sent to Disney.  In honor of Andrew’s 13th birthday on January 29, 2013, we were able to send 2 more children to Disney World all due to your generosity.  Your support is greatly appreciated!

Dear Friends of the Andrew Olson Foundation

Thank you for your past support of our foundation. Please know that Andrew’s Foundation is helping families with a child battling cancer. Through your generous support, you made Christmas 2012 a happier time for such a family. Below is an excerpt from a mom whose 2 children have received Bone Marrow Transplants. (We met while we were in the BMT unit).  The below is an excerpt posted from her Caring Bridge page. We thank all of you for living the spirit of caring to those affected by childhood cancer.  You made a difference in the life of this little boy Ethan who continues to battle the effects of HLH, a rare blood cancer.

“It is that time of year again and while a lot of others are getting prepared for Christmas and finding joy in their hearts, we too were getting ready around here. It was sort of feeling like Christmas but something was missing-just wasn’t sure what. I thought maybe this time of year was hard on us because we think back to the last several that we had-2 of which were spent in the bmt unit, the others-except for last year-spent away from family and most of them spent in STL. Maybe it was the fact that Ethan’s BMT was on the 22nd and while he is still with us today and we are so grateful for this-it is an emotional time. We spent 3 in a row in the hospital and each year I get scared we could be there again-maybe that was keeping me from feeling the peace, love, and joy?

I received a card in the mail with the sweetest picture on the front. It was from a dear friend who lost her precious son. He had went through bmt with Kristan and knowing this family over the years has brought us such joy-they are so supportive and just amazing people-THE best, like angels on earth. She had sent us a gift inside worth more than she could know. Christmas became full of hope to us…. It suddenly felt different. Her son Andrew loved Christmas and he loved shopping for everyone-such a caring loving child of God, whom is GREATLY missed. The message spoke to my heart. We decided we would take this gift and let Ethan shop–we wanted to let him experience the gift of giving. He has never had this before.

It is better to give than to receive.

This is exactly what we did while we were in STL yesterday for his clinic visit. He usually has a lot of anxiety going to his appt.–but he knew he was going to get to shop afterwards and he did. He is so excited over what he picked out and he will get to help wrap them today. Since his re-birthday falls on the same day we are doing our Christmas(his daddy has to work on Christmas Eve, so we are doing ours a couple days early) we are celebrating his re-birthday earlier to not take away from Jesus’ Birthday.

So tomorrow we will celebrate Ethan’s 5th Re-Birthday. This is when he will GIVE his gifts. I want our children to know where these came from–what wonderful people these gifts came from, and what an awesome child Andrew was and IS…..Thank you from the bottom of my heart The Andrew Olson Foundation.” Leeann

Please know it is YOU, all the kind people who donate to Andrew’s Foundation,  who made this experience  possible for Ethan. We are here to help other families in need during their child’s fight against cancer. If you know a family who needs help, please contact us. Please know that the Andrew Olson Foundation is a public charity, exempt from MO state and federal taxes under section 501 ( C) (3). THANK YOU for caring about a family affected by childhood cancer!

Wishing you good health, happiness, peace and love in the New Year!

Jacqueline Olson


Meet Andrew’s Bone Marrow Donor – Adam Letizia

As parents to young children, we relish the opportunities to control our children’s environment. No violent television shows, no play dates with kids who bite and push, only nutretous foods being offered, and the list goes on and on. Parents only want the best for their children and delight in making this happen.

When you child is diagnosed with cancer, you still insist on the best. The best hospital, best oncologist, best treatment plans. But imagine how a parent feels when told that your child’s only chance for a cure is a bone marrow transplant. And if that is not enough to digest, you then find out that no one in your family is a match. Suddenly your child’s future is dependent on a complete stranger, that is, if a matched unrelated donor can even be found. You still want the best for your child but you have no  control over what the future will bring.

This is the situation we found ourselves in when our son Andrew’s leukemia kept returning. That is when we learned about the National Bone Marrow Registry and through this venue our son’s awesome donor, Adam Letizia, was found. He was 34 years old, lived in another state, and was a 6 out of 6 match. That is all we were told by our medical team. We waited anxiously to see if this stranger would be willing to go through a battery of physical testing, hopefully pass, and then check into his local hospital and have a portion of his bone marrow extracted and flown to St. Louis. Not a small request for someone you don’t even know!

What a blessing Adam is to our family! He answered this calling and graciously donated his bone marrow to save Andrew. How excited we were to find a person so generous and caring. It was October 1, 2002, when Andrew received the first of Adam’s bone marrow. It was the feast day of St. Therese but since the actual BMT infused from 11:30 pm until after midnight, it carried over to the feast day of Guardian Angels. Would it be a sign that all would work out? God had definitely sent Andrew a special guardian angel in Adam.

Alas, Andrew would experience 2 more relapses in the year after his BMT. Adam would be our hero and again send more bone marrow. This time it was divided into small quantities and frozen. A dose, know as a DLI (donor luekecyte infusion)  would be administered every 60 days over a period of a year. This would keep constant donor cells to fight off any lingering leukemia cells. And it worked!

Because of Adam’s kindness and generosity, Andrew lived 7 years longer than he would have. It was through Adam’s selfless acts that Andrew actually beat his leukemia and was cancer free for over 5 years–the length of time required to be “medically cured”. We were elated. Andrew got to live what most people would refer to “as a normal life.” School, sports, Cub Scouts, play dates and friends.

The Bone Marrow Registry keeps the donor anonymous for a period of 18 months back then. We were able to send some letters to Adam through the staff at Children’s hospital. I remember when the 18 months had passed, we filled out the release forms, hoping to finally have a name and face to put with our donor. I was so disappointed when the representative said I may never hear from the donor for it is much more common for the donor and recipient to stay annonomyous. I cannot remember how many months later it was, but one night I came home with the kids and noticed we had one message. I had to replay it a second time before it I fully realized it was our donor calling us to check on Andrew. Adam, our hero, revealed his identity and a friendship fastly formed.

Adam and his wife Carol will always be a special part of our family. What an inspiration they are to those around them! They have 3 beautiful children and one fantastic grandson. Each day we thank God for bringing Adam into our lives.

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