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State Honoree

Amanda Waas

Florida

Amanda Waas, 16, of Miami, Fla., a sophomore at Miami Palmetto Senior High School, developed Positive Packs, a fund-raising and “patient comfort” program designed to help young cancer and hematology patients endure their long hours of medical treatment. After seeing her 10-year-old neighbor suffer through chemotherapy, Amanda realized that children like him needed something to distract them from the frightening aspects of their illness and to keep them busy during lengthy periods of treatment. “I knew I could do something to help,” she said. Her idea: to provide clinics and hospitals with brightly colored backpacks filled with toys, reading materials and other fun items for young patients to play with while undergoing treatment. Amanda created a sample pack, designed a logo and flyers, and began seeking sponsors and donations through letters, phone calls and appeals to newspaper and television stations in her area. When she delivered her first 25 packs, she realized she had achieved her goal of “getting kids to see at least one positive thing about having to go to the hospital.” A short time later, her mother, aunt and grandfather were all battling various kinds of cancer, and Amanda expanded her activities to include fund-raising for cancer research. After six years of work, Amanda’s program has raised more than $35,000 for the American Cancer Society and The Children’s Cancer Fund.