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Holt Brothers Bring Cancer Support Program to Campus

When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, relatives can find themselves in a precarious position.

They juggle gut-wrenching emotions and mind-boggling decisions alongside utter bewilderment. Processing information about the disease and its treatment plans – and staying even-keeled through the process – can be difficult for even the most rational, headstrong adult.

It’s perhaps even harder for the children of cancer patients. They may not have access to someone who can provide clear explanations of cancer, the treatment process, or the emotional ups-and-downs they’ll face with their families.

NC State Alums to the Rescue

Torry and Terrence Holt faced that adversity as their mother, Ojetta Holt-Shoffner, battled cancer in the mid-1990s. They found the experience devastating. So to help children and teens facing the same adversity, the NC State and NFL football stars decided to do something about it.

In 1999, they started the Holt Foundation to provide educational, emotional and community support for the children of cancer patients. Since then, they’ve sponsored cancer fundraisers and provided online resources for kids seeking answers to questions about cancer, among other community services.

The foundation also works with three North Carolina hospitals and a hospital in St. Louis on the “KidsCan!” initiative, a monthly support program that helps children express their feelings through planned activities with art, music and games. Kids also get the opportunity to ask questions and talk about their concerns with trained hospital professionals. Despite the programs name, adult cancer patients and adult caregivers also participate.

Campus Camps For Kids Coming Oct. 20

Now, KidsCan! is coming to NC State, thanks to a collaboration between the university, the Holt Foundation and the Rex Hospital Cancer Center.

The brainchild of Dr. John Cavanagh, a biochemistry professor at NC State, KidsCan! science camps will empower children with knowledge about the science behind cancer and cancer treatments to help them better understand the process and what their parents are going through.

The first of hopefully annual KidsCan! camps will be held on campus Oct. 20, Cavanagh says. Faculty and students working in NC State’s Jimmy V-NC State Cancer Therapeutics Training Program, which is led by Cavanagh, will serve as mentors for the campers. These university students and faculty perform research on everything from finding new chemotherapy treatments that kill only cancer cells to finding weaknesses in the mechanisms that cause certain genes to trigger tumors in different types of cancer.

“We wanted to be part of this important KidsCan! project and felt that providing camps for these children was a natural fit,” Cavanagh says.

“This camp is a fabulous way to let kids experience first-hand what is being done to find a cure for cancer,” says Torry Holt. “We are thankful to Dr. Cavanagh and NC State for hosting this event, and we look forward to seeing the children and families learn more about the science that goes on behind the scenes.”