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All in the Family

Thursday, November 17, 2016

For Tucker Durham (2015 Virginia State Honoree), volunteering is a family affair.

For the past five years, Tucker, 15, has helped his mother raise money for the Massey Cancer Center through fundraising events and participating in a Richmond 10K. The cause hits close to home for the Durhams; Tucker’s grandfather died of melanoma in 2010, and his great-aunt died over the summer from leukemia.

Kelly Durham had been running in the Monument Avenue 10K and raising money for years when Tucker, then 10, decided he wanted to participate. “I knew it was for a good cause and it looked fun,” he said.

He ran his first 10K that year. Knowing he liked to be on the computer, Kelly also put him in charge of keeping an eye on their fundraising website and tracking donations on an Excel spreadsheet. As he got older, Tucker started to help with planning and executing doughnut and pizza fundraisers. He also did some public speaking, raising awareness of his family’s cause through TV, radio and local events. 

In total, the Durhams have raised more than $70,000 since Kelly started the effort nine years ago -- raising a record $20,000 each year over the past two years. And Tucker’s little brother, Patrick, is joining the efforts in 2017.

“I like the recognition, but I know deep down I am doing a good thing,” Tucker said. “The doughnut and pizza sale events are totally fun. We have hundreds of people come buy food from us and talk to us and we play music, so the atmosphere for those days is really fun. But it is hard work too, because we pick up the fresh donuts to sell at 6 a.m. and work all day!” 

Kelly said she hopes volunteering with her kids sets an example they’ll follow as adults. “When we volunteer together, there is something magical about knowing we are still getting the quality time together, but in a selfless way...for a higher purpose,” she said.
The main service challenge the Durhams have faced, said Kelly, is finding time to fit it into an already busy schedule. At times, it’s taken time away from schoolwork. “They know they still need to keep up with their grades, and we ensure there are other important lessons learned on those days about kindness, generosity, and gratefulness,” she said. 

Her advice to other parents looking to volunteer with their kids: Get them started young, make it fun, and help them understand the results of their efforts. In their case, Kelly and her sons were able to tour the Massey Cancer Center facilities, check out the test tubes and petri dishes and talk with scientists about their work. At 6 years old, her younger son understood and could clearly articulate that they were raising money so doctors could make medicine to cure people of cancer. “Getting this hands-on picture was invaluable,” she said.  

Tucker said the most important thing he’s learned from volunteering with his family is that finding a cure for cancer is important work – and even kids can make a difference. For kids thinking of volunteering with their families, he had these words of wisdom: “It's fun, you'll enjoy it and helping a good cause makes the work worthwhile. For me, maybe one day I will know that my efforts and the money I helped to raise helped to find a cure for cancer.” 


Want to volunteer with your family? generationOn’s Family Volunteer Day is Saturday, November 19. Learn more, find a local service opportunity or share your story at