PLEASANTON, CA — When Scott Kienhofer was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma as a high school student in 2017, he had a vision to help other young people hospitalized after learning they had cancer.
Even at such a young age, Foothill High School junior recognized the need for young cancer patients to have something to take their mind off their diagnosis, while being forced to stay in a hospital room, often with nothing to do. , often for weeks at a time. time.
Just over three years after his death, Kienhofer’s family founded the Scottie’s Gift Foundation, which will provide gift bags, including an iPad or tablet, to young cancer patients. The foundation is well on track to raise the first $50,000 needed to put together the first round of gift bags for cancer patients at an Oakland hospital, while fulfilling a mission Scott Kienhofer had before he died on March 12, 2018.
In a letter he wrote before his death, Kienhofer outlined a desire to give young cancer patients the gift bags, stating that he would pay for the many items out of his own pocket. What was needed, however, was financial assistance to pay for the tablets that would be in the gift bags. He wrote the letter after spending weeks at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, where he was one of 100 newly diagnosed cancer patients in the hospital.
Now his family is trying to raise enough money to give gift bags and tablets to each of the hospital’s newly diagnosed cancer patients. While his family knows the business is important — especially to keep it sustainable — they know Scott Kienhofer had this in mind before he died.
“We wouldn’t have the foundation if Scottie hadn’t had their vision,” Kienhofer’s mother, Brigit, told Patch on Friday. “It’s all. If he hadn’t had (the vision), we wouldn’t be here, I can guarantee that.”
Since the May 1 launch of Scottie’s Gift Foundation, the group has raised $6,500 with a “Cheers to 21” event celebrating Kienhofer’s 21st birthday. In addition, the event led to the donation of toy donations, which can be added to the gift baskets once the $50,000 goal is reached. Brigit Kienhofer said that if the foundation can achieve its original goal, the gift baskets could be in patient hands by December 1.
The family planned to launch the foundation last year before the coronavirus pandemic changed their plans. But as the foundation went official earlier this year, donations in honor of Scott Kienhofer’s wishes continued to come in, bringing his family closer to their $50,000 goal, Brigit Kienhofer said.
She said Friday she is surprised that the Foundation is having such a sudden impact, but knows it is vital to provide these items to young cancer patients.
“(Hospital staff) tells us it’s like Scottie has read the minds of the kids in the hospital — especially the iPads,” Brigit Kienhofer said. “It’s exactly what those kids need.”
She added: “I think there is a tremendous need for children to be uplifted.”
Now that the foundation is in the ground, work will focus not only on completing the process of raising the first $50,000, but also planning for next year, when another $50,000 is needed to make the next round. to pay for gift baskets. Each funding round will provide gift baskets each year to the 100 newly diagnosed cancer patients at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.
In his letter, Scott Kienhofer wrote that after receiving an iPad from a family friend, he immediately cheered it up at a time when he needed it most. His mother said the tablets allow patients to connect with friends who may not be able to visit them in the hospital and spend their time when they need something to take their mind off what they’re going through.
“While I was (in the hospital), it absolutely crushed me to see all those smart, intelligent kids going through the stress of everything that comes with a cancer diagnosis,” wrote Scott Kienhofer.
The foundation’s goal now is to bring love, joy and comfort to newly diagnosed cancer patients and their families. Brigit said she hopes the gift bags will not only provide temporary joy to patients who receive them, but also provide ongoing relief as they stay in the hospital.
“There are few things in life as traumatic as being diagnosed with cancer for one of your children,” Scott’s father, Brian, told Patch on Friday. “What we’re trying to do is to provide some joy and something that takes the minds of (patients) away from their situation because it’s so dramatic — the reality of a cancer diagnosis for a child.”