WVU Medicine Children’s partners with Connecting Champions

Evidence-based and outcomes-driven mentor program supports child cancer patients

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Medicine Children’s announced today, March 11, that it will partner with Connecting Champions, a nonprofit that provides mentorship and friendship to child cancer patients, to expand its programming to patients in Morgantown. This marks the first expansion for Connecting Champions outside of its historic partnership in Western Pennsylvania with UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Connecting Champions asks kids diagnosed with cancer what they want to be when they grow up and partners them with a mentor from that field. The program is evidence-based and outcomes-driven and helps children focus on what comes after cancer. Founded in 2010, the organization has matched hundreds of kids with a mentor over the last decade.

“When a kid has cancer they often have to be away from their friends and school. It can create a real development gap between a child with cancer and their peers,” said Sidney Kushner, executive director, Connecting Champions. “Our program inspires and engages kids at a time where they are feeling isolated, alone and scared. By getting them to focus on what they want to do when they grow up, we can shift their attention to the future and what comes after they beat cancer.”

The model has been proven with a pilot program started at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in 2012. Today, more than 90 percent of local child cancer patients in the region are referred to Connecting Champions.

“We want to make sure our patients receive physical, mental and emotional care throughout their cancer journey,” said Patrick Tomboc, chief of the WVU Medicine Children’s Pediatric Blood and Cancer Center. “Partnering with Connecting Champions will help continue WVU Medicine’s commitment to providing comprehensive and advanced specialty care to all our patients.”

Connecting Champions will launch the program later this summer and is currently looking for staff and advisors to join its Morgantown team. For more information, please visit connectingchampions.org

About WVU Medicine Children’s

WVU Medicine Children’s – currently located on the sixth floor of J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, WVU Medicine’s flagship hospital – provides maternal, infant, and pediatric care for West Virginia and the surrounding region, giving care to high-risk mothers, premature infants, and children with life-threatening conditions through adolescence to adulthood. In 2021, WVU Medicine Children’s will move into a new tower and ambulatory care center to be attached to Ruby Memorial. For more information, including ways to support the $60-million capital campaign for Children’s new home, visit wvumedicine.org/childrens.

About Connecting Champions

Connecting Champions is a nonprofit that asks kids with cancer, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and then connects them with a mentor for their cancer journey. Everything Connecting Champions does is research-based and outcomes-driven, built to bridge the developmental, social and emotional gaps between kids with cancer and their peers. Launched in 2011 and piloted with UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, today more than 90% of local child cancer patients in Western Pennsylvania are referred to Connecting Champions. For more information, please visit connectingchampions.org.