“To them, anything is a lot”: Corrine Hansel


Corrine Hansel (11) poses with Dr. Gustafson while holding a check for $900. (Photo Credit: Vivian Hoang)

Vivian Hoang, Copy Editor

I started Irvingthon, which is a club that raises money for pediatric cancer. We work with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and their pediatric cancer department. Benioff became Irvingthon’s beneficiary when my brother began working there.

As a club, we raise money for Benioff to fund whatever is needed the most. It can go to research, but it can also go towards building play rooms for patients to destress outside of treatment or toward gas cards for patients’ parents so they don’t need to worry about transportation and money. All our money goes towards making these patients’ and their families’ lives easier.

In order to raise that money, Irvingthon hosts several events. Last year, we did one main event called Irvingthon, which lasted six-hours and had everyone on their feet the whole time. The entry fee was $25, and we also raised money through additional donations. During Irvingthon, we had a family hour during which my brother, a former cancer patient, and my uncle, whose daughter had cancer, spoke about their experiences.

This year, we’ve been trying to branch out. We are doing toy drives at school and just finished running a toy drive and fundraiser with Rita’s Italian Ice in Fremont. They gave us 25 percent of the proceeds, raising $200 to buy toys that went directly to the kids in Benioff’s oncology ward. When I first met with Rita’s owner to discuss our collaborative events, he was so astounded that I was doing this as a teenager. He kept saying things like, “What you’re doing is amazing.” Just hearing someone praise me for doing this, when I come from a family where it’s expected, makes me feel validated.

Giving back has always been a part of my life. Working with charitable organizations is something my family has always done. We often work with the Ronald McDonald House organization, which houses the families of patients close to the hospital so they can be with their children, because we understand that the most important thing for a family is their child’s  well-being.

When we lived Philadelphia, my family also worked with the charity Alex’s Lemonade Stand. My parents actually knew Alex’s parents and Alex had the same type of cancer as my brother and they stayed at the hospital at the same time and shared the same doctors. My brother and sister even held an Alex’s Lemonade Stand birthday party where instead of presents, their friends brought money to donate.

I think it’s nice to give back to those who haven’t been as lucky, but sometimes I feel like all my work is worthless. Right now, I’m having trouble getting kids to come and join me. However, it’s always rewarding when I see what the money I raise is being used for. Last year I was able to present a check for $900 to Dr. Gustafson, a pediatric oncologist at UCSF Benioff. Initially, I thought this was a small amount, but someone from UCSF told me that $900 was a lot to these kids, that it could go toward buying toys and other things to make the kids’ lives better. To them, anything is a lot. It can be really hard for them in the hospital. They’re in a new place. There are all these noises, machines, and strange people, so it’s nice to give them things most kids would have, like toys and presents on Christmas.

I want to encourage other students to see how lucky they are and how they can make an impact on the world. I think people focus too much on their own life  and don’t think about how they can impact the world, even if they are young and just doing little things. I just want to try to communicate that to them.