Feb. 15, 2024

‘I just want to give back’

Providing both emotional and financial support to children battling cancer is personal to NDSU student Sydney Senior. At the age of 12, Senior was diagnosed with cancer. She recalls her family being presented with a check at an event held by the Pinky Swear Foundation to help with the financial toll hospital bills and other day-to-day expenses brought. 

Now, eight years cancer-free and a junior majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology, Senior is the president of NDSU’s chapter of the Pinky Swear PACK. Knowing that she and the other NDSU students are making a difference for children is impactful to Senior.

“I’m really grateful for what the foundation did for me, and now really I just want to give back the best way I can,” said Senior, who is from Rancho Mirage, California. “It feels amazing continuing my journey and just trying to give back as much as I can to the community and to the kids who are affected. Kind of in a way knowing how they feel, but not really. You never know how anyone feels going through such a traumatic time.”

NDSU’s chapter is among one of the several Pinky Swear PACKs formed in high schools and universities across the country. Each chapter has the same goal of raising money to support children with cancer and their families cover hospital bills, food and other essentials like housing and transportation.

At NDSU, fundraisers have been held with both Sandy’s Donuts where a little over $400 was raised, and last semester at Michele’s Table where around $300 was raised. Senior said she has seen an outpouring of support from local businesses in the community who want to help.

“Everyone’s been so eager to help Pinky Swear. Even when I just said two sentences on what Pinky Swear is, they immediately wanted to help,” she said. “I’m very grateful on how I’ve been treated throughout the community.”

Though NDSU’s chapter of the Pinky Swear PACK was started years ago, Senior discovered the organization was not running when she initially reached out to join. She had the option to re-start the organization last year, and has been working on spreading the word around campus to get more members. 

Currently the PACK has around 25 members who meet twice a month to brainstorm fundraising ideas and make cards that are distributed to children in hospitals in states including Minnesota and Iowa.

Senior said the PACK members also have virtually met some of the children that are receiving support through the foundation. 

“It’s awesome. You get to hear their story if they’re comfortable talking about it. You really understand and get that perspective of what they’re going through and the challenges they’re facing,” she said. “It sets you back as an adult seeing a child go through that. It does kind of make you think. It’s supposed to be an uplifting moment, but also a learning moment. We’re making them happy and that is what we’re here to do.”

Senior said there is a lot of interest in the club and she’s looking forward to collaborating with other student organizations in the future.  

“We’re helping these children and we’re doing good deeds,” she said. 

The Pinky Swear PACK meetings are open to all students. Anyone interested in learning more can find additional information on the NDSU Pinky Swear PACK Instagram and on myNDSU.

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