Dominic, Bella, McKenna, Ayden and Erin – names appearing on the five rubber bracelets worn around Jenny Formica’s left wrist. These five names represent more than children battling cancer.
For Formica, these names are friends, purpose, hope and the reason that she started Courageous Cartoons.
Courageous Cartoons is a brand new club on campus this semester created by Formica, sophomore undeclared major, which creates and colors cartoons to be sent to children with cancer.
“In February, I was sitting in Oaks with my friend and I said ‘I can draw, that’s what I should do’,” Formica said.
Once the cartoons are colored they are sent into the child life department of the Children’s Hospital of Orange County.
Formica has developed original characters to send out to children with cancer who send in requests for specific drawings.
“The characters are like superheroes, my favorite one is a bald girl superhero, because the girls with cancer don’t feel like they can be princesses and superheroes, because they don’t have hair,” Formica said.
Formica was inspired by her friend Jessie Rees, who started her own organization to help children with cancer while battling an inoperable brain tumor herself.
Seeing Rees lose her battle in 2012, Formica decided she wanted to do what she could to help others going through treatment.
“Obviously the goal is a cure, but I am more of a ‘I don’t know how to cure cancer’ so I want to provide joy and hope while they have to go through their treatments,” Formica said.
Formica hopes to gain many members in the club at La Verne by bringing her own passion and values into helping a cause close to her heart.
“I hope they get more members involved, hopefully it can be a club that involves La Verne students from different areas,” said Amanda Santos, academic adviser and faculty adviser for Courageous Cartoons.
On Saturday Formica shared her club with members of Greek life at the Greek Leadership Conference at ULV, hoping to gain more members.
“I am really excited that we got the opportunity to be exposed to this club at the Greek Leadership Conference,” Ashlee Meyer, junior psychology major and Greek Conference attendee, said.
“It is awesome for kids with cancer to know other people are rooting for them,” she said.
The real rewards come from feedback that is often received from the children and their families after they receive the cartoons.
“A lot of the time parents will send me pictures of the children holding their drawings and I love it because they just seem so happy,” Formica said.
“They are going through so much, and if you can make them happy for that split second it is so awesome because you just see them light up,” she said.
As for the future of the club, Formica has high hopes.
“I really want Courageous Cartoons to become an actual nonprofit and have a system where people actually create new cartoons and everyone can be involved,” Formica said.
Courageous Cartoons meets every other Thursday from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Hanawalt House.
Kellie Galentine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.