In 2005 three-and-a-half-year-old Reagen Amand was diagnosed with leukemia. About a year later, her parents, Rob and Vicki, founded a charity called Adopt a Pig, a philanthropic initiative that helps pediatric cancer patients and their families by offering them a breather from the everyday maelstrom of drugs and treatments.
“We wanted to help families who had found themselves in the same position as us,” says Rob Amand, whose daughter is currently fighting the disease for a second time following a brief remission that ended in February 2009.
The idea behind the program is this: Pediatric cancer patients and survivors are given a ceramic pig to paint any way they choose. Sponsors then “adopt” a finished pig for $25 and start saving in the piggy bank. Once the piggy bank is full, the sponsor donates those funds back to Adopt a Pig. To date, more than 4,000 piggy banks have been distributed to pediatric cancer patients, and over $125,000 has been raised. Amand says 94 percent of all the donations went to helping patients and their families through purchasing art supplies and piggy banks, funding free family outings and building special rooms at area hospitals, like the parent room at Nemours/ Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.
“The art projects help break the monotony of waiting and testing, and they act as a distraction from the treatment process, which is hell for everyone in the family,” Amand says.
Adopt a Pig strives to give children with cancer a sense of normalcy and empowerment. It helps them, if only for a short time, to forget that they’re in the midst of the battle of their lives and allows them just to be kids, messy paintbrush and all. “The kids are in essence doing this for themselves,” says Amand. “It comes full circle, from art therapy to fundraising and back again. These kids are the artists, the fundraisers and the heroes of the program. My wife and I just help facilitate the process; we just give them the tools.”