A storm of awareness

A.J. Salmon has dedicated more than half of his life to developing the I Hate Cancer Club — a platform to raise awareness and funds for St. Jude.

One selfless gift as a young boy was the first snowflake in what is now a blizzard of awareness and funds raised for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

At age 7, A.J. Salmon had saved $75 for a Nintendo® Wii. When he heard the stories of St. Jude patients during a local radiothon, he decided to donate his savings to St. Jude. He then set out to make a larger impact by making more people aware of St. Jude’s lifesaving mission. By reaching out to dozens of schools in his area, Salmon, now 15, has raised more than $40,000 for St. Jude, with more than $7,000 coming this year.

Salmon uses a similar snowflake analogy when he talks to students about his I Hate Cancer Club at schools near where he lives in Pekin, Illinois. He says that one snowflake by itself will melt, but millions of them can become a snow day, and that if his audience can work together like the snowflakes, they can create a positive outcome in the world.

Kids can do amazing things when they work together.

A.J. Salmon, founder of the
"I Hate Cancer Club"

A.J. Salmon with his siblings

A.J. (second from left) with his siblings: Allie (left), Axton, Avery and Arisa. 

“Everyone has been so amazing and supportive,” Salmon said. “It’s such a gratifying experience to see this community and see how many people are willing to help these kids (of) St. Jude.”

Salmon mostly works with elementary schools but also has addressed junior and senior high schools. He first talks to school administrators, who then come up with fundraising ideas like a pajama day or hat day. Then, during the school’s fundraising for St. Jude, Salmon talks to the students about his I Hate Cancer Club and sells his club T-shirts, with the proceeds going to St. Jude.

“Whatever I can do to help raise money and help raise awareness of the amazing things that St. Jude is doing is my goal,” Salmon said. “Also to get kids to understand that you don’t have to be an adult to contribute to society. Kids can do amazing things when they work together.”

You, too, can help give hope to kids who are fighting life-threatening illnesses.

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