Promo Items in Action: Cancer Fundraiser for 16-Year-Old Kellyn

Hearing a doctor utter the words โ€œYou have cancerโ€ is one of the most heartbreaking things in the world. Similarly, it’s a terrible feeling when a close friend or family member tells you they have cancer. Things like this can happen to anyone, but we all hope and pray that it never happens to us.

Well, things were really put into perspective for me this past summer when I found out a close friendโ€™s little sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Her name is Kellyn, and she was only 16 years old when she was diagnosed. I have known several people being diagnosed with cancer, but I never would have expected it to happen to an innocent 16 year old! It’s tough and we never think it could happen to those dear to us. However, that thought changed completely when everyone heard Kellyn had cancer. Nobody ever would have expected it.

Kellyn and her sister

Kellyn and her sister

The best way to describe little Miss Kellyn is by describing the love for life that she has. You never see her without a smile on her face. No matter what she is going through, she always remains happy. And even throughout her entire cancer experience, she still remained happy and positive (she probably handled it better than any of us, to be honest).

Everybody’s thoughts included: “Out of all people, why her? She’s one of the sweetest girls anyone could know.” But once that thought process was out of the way, all we wanted to do was help her through the situation. What could we do, though?

We could do a lot, actually! Kellyn has so much family and so many friends that it was not very hard to get a lot of support for her. Her family started the process by holding a fundraiser at Blackberry Oaks Golf Course in Bristol, Illinois; this golf outing helped pay for some of her medical expenses. The banquet/fundraiser turned out to be very successful, and it brought in a lot of money for medical expenses. But there were still a few other things that needed to be paid for.

For example, Kellyn had to go through chemotherapy, and she was losing her hair day by day. One day, her sister finally shaved her hair off for her, which was an extremely difficult thing to do. Now, I know that losing your hair probably doesn’t seem that important when your entire life is at stake. But girls, come on — letโ€™s face it. Being a 16-year-old girl (or any age, for that matter) with no hair would be unbearably difficult!

Thanks to promo items like these ribbons, Kellyn was able to buy 2 wigs!

Thanks to promo items like these ribbons, Kellyn was able to buy 2 wigs!

This is where promotional products came into effect and helped Kellyn in a huge way. Her older sister found an easy way to raise money for Kellyn to get a wig — by reselling personalized support items. They sold blue cancer ribbons printed with the phrase “Praying for Kell,” which friends and family put on their cars to support her. They also sold blue wristbands with the same phrase and encouraged people to wear them in honor of Kellyn. A few of her friends also put together t-shirts and proudly wore them to football games, tennis matches, and other busy social events. A few of of the guys even went as far as shaving their heads to support their good friend!

So, what did Kellyn gain from this fundraising effort? The promotional products raised enough money for her to get two wigs! Because of that, she was able to attend her homecoming dance looking as beautiful as ever, and she was even able to do simple things — like shopping at the mall or going to the movies — without being embarrassed. And the best news of all? Kellyn has been cancer-free for two months, and she’s living life like she always has!

Kellyn’s family and friends weren’t the first to use promo items to raise money, and they won’t be the last. There are lots of cool fundraising ideas out there, but you have to pick the ones that work best for the situation at hand, just as I’ve illustrated here. Think outside the norms and you’ll be on your way to meeting your fundraiser goals!

Have you ever used promo items to raise money for a good cause? Would you have chosen different promotional products for the job? What do you think about this fundraising initiative?

Images appear courtesy of Kellyn’s family and friends.


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  1. Rachel

    Great post, Jaimie! Promotional items can definitely be really great fundraising tools, as your story demonstrates. Glad to hear your friend’s sister is now cancer-free!

    And welcome to the blog squad! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jaimie Smith

      Thanks, Rachel! Yeah, I am glad that promotional products were able to help her out. And yes, I am too glad to know she is cancer free! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Amy Swanson

    It’s so great to hear that Kellyn has been cancer-free for two months!! That’s the best part about this blog ๐Ÿ˜€ I never heard of reselling promotional products before working here, but it makes complete sense. You can buy them and personalize them however you’d like for a cheap price and then sell them for however much you’d like to charge. Genius!

    Thanks so much for such an uplifting and informative blog, Jaimie! Glad to have you on the ‘Blog Squad’!

    • Jaimie Smith

      Thanks, Amy! And I am glad you enjoyed this post. I never really thought of that idea either. When they told me about it I thought it was awesome. If only I worked here then, because then she probably would have ordered them through us! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Mandy Kilinskis

    That’s awesome that reselling promo products helped Kellyn’s family purchase two wigs for her! And it’s even more wonderful that she’s now cancer-free!

    It’s great to hear about the power of promotional products all with a happy ending. Great first post, Jaimie! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Jaimie Smith

      Thanks, Mandy! I was super nervous writing my first blog, so I am glad it was enjoyed by you guys! And I agree, happy endings are always great! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Jill Tooley

    What a sweet blog post, Jaimie! I’m so sorry that Kellyn had to go through all of this at such an early age, but it’s a huge relief to hear that she pulled through with flying colors. The promotional items they selected (the magnetic ribbons and the personalized bracelets) are usually always good for fundraisers, because you can get a lot of them for pretty cheap. I’m also a big fan of customizable sunglasses as fundraising items — not only are they inexpensive, but they’re funky and the bright colors draw the eye up to the message. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Welcome to the Squad!

    • Jaimie Smith

      Thank you, Jill! And yes, I was so happy to hear she was finally cancer-free. The beginning of it all was very stressful on her friends and family. But then once she started kicking butt in her chemo sessions, everything seemed to go great from there. Probably one of the best moments was seeing her get all dressed up to go to her homecoming dance, let me tell you, there was a lot of tears that day lol, but good ones!
      And OMG, those sunglasses are freaking awesome!! My sister got a pair of those from somewhere and for some reason are her favorite, she wears them everywhere! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Jeff Porretto

    Such an amazing first post Jaimie! I love seeing an effort such as this pay off in something wonderful. I’m just happy that Promotional Products got to be a part of it! And Amy is right, by far the best part of this is the fact she’s been cancer free =] Thanks!

    • Jaimie Smith

      Thank you very much, Jeff. You know how much i was nervous, and sort of dreading my first blog lol. It ended up being fun to write about since it has a happy ending. I am glad you guys all enjoyed it. And yes, I am also very happy that Kellyn is cancer free! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. david k waltz


    I like watching a show called Chopped on Food Network, where chefs get mystery ingredients (always odd ones) each round where they have to use them in an appetizer, a dinner, or a dessert.

    They usually get extra points when they “re-purpose” an ingredient, which means using it in a new or different way.

    This story is a great “re-purposing” of the promotional product. Great job! And we will keep Kellyn in our thoughts.

    • Jaimie Smith

      I have never watched that show, but yes I see what you are saying. That is an interesting similarity and a very good point. And thank you, I appreciate your thoughts.

  7. Jen

    Jaimie what an awesome first blog! I’m so happy your friend’s sister is now in good health and can enjoy being a normal teenager. The fundraiser using promo products for her wigs was such a great idea! She is very fortunate to have such loving family and friends to support her. Welcome to the Blog Squad!

    • Jaimie Smith

      Awe thanks, Jen! Yes she was very fortunate to have so many friends and family to support her. Like I had said, losing your hair does not seem like it should be important, but to a lot of people it is very hard and dissapointing, it is good everyone understood that. So selling promo products seemed just right.

  8. Cybernetic SAM

    This is a very sweet post Jaimie! Nice job!

    • Jaimie Smith

      Thanks girl!

  9. Jenna Markowski

    It is so awesome to see promotional products put to use for such a good cause, and even more awesome to hear that Kellyn has been cancer free! ๐Ÿ™‚

    This is such an awesome first blog post, Jaimie! Welcome to the blogsquad!

    • Jenna Markowski

      Wow, how many times can I say the word “awesome?”

      • Jaimie Smith

        haha its okay, I say it a lot too! but thanks a bunch girl! I was really glad they were able to figure something out too. Its awesome that promo products is what helped her!

  10. Candice J.

    Its great to see the other side of promo products. In the business we are in we only see the buy/sell side to the customer but not too often what its actually used for. Its incredible to see the many different ways and situations promo products can be used to promote good. I’m glad she also had a happy ending to her story. Besides, there is nothing better than supporting life!

    • Jaimie Smith

      Very well said, Candice. Thank you, I am glad you liked this. But yeah it is awesome to see promo products being used to promote good things in life!

  11. socialnetworkgiving

    Great blog jaimie nice to hear that Kellyn has been cancer-free.ya i agree with you that there are lots of fundraising idea but you will pick which suits you.

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