Congratulations to the 2024 scholarship recipients!

This June we celebrated an incredible group of young adults as we awarded them Derek Wandzura Memorial Scholarship. This year, we awarded the largest dollar amount to each individual to date. This is the 16th year of this scholarship and with this year’s recipients, we have awarded over $468,000 in scholarships to 218 deserving young people.

Over the past 16 years, we have seen the scholarship fund grow and impact many lives. This endowed fund, administered by the Calgary Foundation, is at over $1 million today! It will be here for future generations and is meant to help level the playing field for childhood cancer survivors. Pediatric cancer leaves its mark through a litany of physical, emotional, cognitive, and psychosocial late effects. This scholarship is our way of showing that we believe in each childhood cancer survivor and want to help give them the best start as they take the next step in their life.

Here are our 2024 scholarship recipients.

Zoe McCoy

Diagnosed with bilateral Wilms tumor, Zoe McCoy found solace in drawing, reading and writing, diving deep into books that allowed her to experience adventure. Being creative was and remains her escape today when she is not working toward her goals. As she grew older, Zoe fell in love with public speaking and justice. Going into her second year of political science at the University of Calgary, Zoe hopes to become a lawyer one day. She wants to represent and empower underprivileged people.

Jada Biso

Jada Biso didn’t learn that she was a cancer survivor until she was around 7 or 8 years old, having been diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma at such a young age. Growing resilient from the impact that cancer adds to one’s identity, she had so many positive experiences that came from Kids Cancer Care. Being a part of the Kids Cancer Care community for 10 years, she believes the organization has helped shape her into the woman she is today. Attending Camp Kindle, being an active member of the Teen Leadership Program, and now working as a camp counsellor at Camp Kindle, Jada has come full circle as an active member in this community. She has learned that being a good leader provides others with opportunities to be a leader themselves. Jada has a goal of studying social work or youth care, taking her leadership skills and her desire to inspire others to be leaders themselves.

Keira Neal

Keira Neal was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma at age 1. After beating the cancer with only a 20% chance of survival, adapting to a prosthetic leg, and relearning to walk and run over and over again, Kiera still managed to fill her life with activity with soccer, ice hockey, mountain biking, downhill skiing, gymnastics, and attending Camp Kindle for several summers. At the same time, Keira has been an avid public speaker, sharing her story as a keynote speaker at the Winnipeg Health and Wellness Expo hosted by McFadden Benefits and at the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine. She has served as an ambassador with the Alberta Children’s Hospital for over 15 years, and even spoke at the Pyeong Chang Paralympics in South Korea, raising awareness and hope for those with disabilities. Alongside her volunteer work, Keira is a student athlete who has maintained honours and plans to attend the University of Victoria School of Business with the hopes of pursing law later in her educational career.

Nathan Chroney

Nathan Chorney was diagnosed with medulloblastoma at the age of 10. Now at 21, he is looking forward to setting out on his career path. With an interest in IT and gaming, Nathan hopes to attend an in-person IT Support Specialist Certificate Program through Momentum. He believes the program will serve as a stepping stone to explore potential jobs in cybersecurity, systems administration, etc. The possibilities are endless. Nathan’s hope is to build a rewarding and fulfilling career in IT.

Evan Arora

Evan Arora opened his essay with a quote from Aristotle, saying, “we may jointly strive for the greater good of our planet and the people who live in it via civic involvement.” Civic involvement is clearly important to Evan given the volunteer work he does in his community. After being diagnosed with leukemia in 2019, Evan has taken every opportunity to volunteer wherever he can in the hopes of having a positive influence on others. He has taken on tutor roles through the Calgary Public Library, helping individuals in computer programming and basic reading, and volunteering as a reading buddy. We have no doubt you will bring great things to others affected by childhood cancer. Evan will be taking his knowledge and positive outlook on life, to pursue a Bachelor of Engineering while continuing to impact others through his many volunteer roles.

Sophia Majko

When Sophia was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, her life consisted of growing up in the hospital. The highlights came from time spent with her sister, keeping her company and bringing familiarity and a sense of safety. Growing up in the hospital, along with a passion for innovation and problem solving in classes such as math and chemistry, shaped Sophia and her educational goals for the future. Sophia witnessed the power of medical advancements and the dedication of doctors, which fueled her passion for engineering. She wants to contribute to this by developing innovative treatments, tools or machines, offering the gift of life she herself received. She hopes to do this in a Bachelor’s of Science and/or Engineering.

Giselle Pimienta

Giselle Pimienta says that having Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis helped her meet incredible people and create fond memories that still sustain her today. It also ignited positive traits such as perseverance, positive attitude, a loving and caring nature and hope in humanity. Giselle was part of the Kids Cancer Care’s Leadership Development Program at Camp Kindle in 2022 and 2023. This leadership program gave her the opportunity to lead camper groups at camp and ignited in her a desire to pursue a 5-year dual-major in Education and Spanish. Her goal is to become a teacher who instills the qualities she has learned at camp and seen in others. Giselle aims to change lives through her volunteer work with AIESEC, an organization that focuses on empowering young people to make a progressive social impact.

Alyssa Wolfram

Growing up on a farm and being a young woman interested in the trades, Alyssa Wolfram has always had a get-it-done attitude. Diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma in middle school, followed by a relapse last year, Alyssa brought her winning attitude to her physical health and academics. She held fast to her goal of finishing high school on a strong note, doing her utmost to not miss school while actively receiving radiation and chemotherapy. From a young age, Alyssa has loved working on vehicles. She’s planning to attend Lethbridge College to pursue a career as a heavy-duty mechanic. It’s so wonderful to see a strong, confident young woman step into a profession traditionally reserved for men.

Mariam Al-Ghafaji

Mariam Al-Ghafaji cannot wait to find her dream job and step into the workforce while reaching her education and career goals. Having a leukemia diagnosis and living with the long-term effects has been a constant struggle and a feeling of being left behind. Hoping to pursue a business administration diploma at SAIT, Mariam is excited to find a job where she is not feeling ‘left out’ due to her health. She looks forward to supporting and paying it forward to her family and herself. Mariam’s big heart is what will propel her into a great career and we can’t wait to see what that looks like!

A heartfelt congratulations to all our outstanding scholarship recipients, you have earned it! We can’t wait to see what you do in the next chapters of your lives and from everyone here at Kids Cancer Care GOOD LUCK!

Thank you to our generous fundraising partners who make our programs and services possible