Students have made a pinky promise to help others in need.
Pinky Swear is an organization that raises money for the Pinky Swear Foundation which helps families with children who have pediatric cancer. The foundation covers expenses such as hotel rooms, gas and food.
The Pinky Swear Foundation started in 2003 after a child named Mitch gave all of his savings to other children in the hospital at Christmas, despite having bone cancer himself. Since he passed away, his father has kept the pinky promise he made with Mitch to continue assisting children with cancer.
The club started three years ago in Mankato when it was called the Love Your Melon crew. Senior Laine Aeilts got involved in the fall of 2022 when looking for clubs to join.
“Being a senior, I kind of missed out on joining clubs after COVID. I stumbled upon Pinky Swear at the RSO fair and I was like, ‘Oh, this is a really good cause for cancer.’ It seems like something I’d really be interested in along the lines of my career,” Aeilts said.
President Alysha Kruger and Aeilts are Applied Health Science majors and have found the club to be beneficial for their careers.
“Focusing on bringing some joy to them and doing some fun activities coincides with occupational therapy. It’s therapy-based play that brings joy to these kids’ lives,” Kruger said.
“With my major being public health, it’s kind of like advocating for people who may be going through socioeconomic issues. Dealing with pediatric cancer is hard in itself and then having to deal with the health care costs that are on top of it is extremely hard for parents and families,” Aeilts said. “I think it’s a great cause to try to alleviate some of that stress as much as possible.”
Typical meetings consist of an activity such as card making and a featured All-Star of the week.
“The website has an All-Star archive where families will share their stories of their child, pictures and what they’ve gone through. Every meeting, we’ll either share a video or highlight a different all-star and talk about their story and how the foundation’s impacted them just to get everyone excited,” Kruger said. “You feel more a part of it when you get to know those kids like that.”
Currently, there are 14 active members of the pack, a name used by the Pinky Swear Foundation. As part of the pack, the group got paired with a kid who they do activities over Zoom with. Some of the activities have been painting Bonsai pots and food-based science experiments.
“It’s been fun to get to know him and to not focus so much on his cancer. He tells us about all the fun stuff he gets to do and that’s just been a lot of fun,” Kruger said.
Aeilts said one of the most memorable fundraisers was tabling at the Mankato versus Duluth hockey game.
“The announcers mentioned our organization between each period, so people would come by during the breaks and we got to tell others who we are, what we’re doing and what we stand for,” Aeilts said. “We met a friend of Mitch’s dad and he was talking to us quite a bit, so that was really interesting.”
Fundraising, however, has been difficult. Since the pack program started recently, not a lot of money has been allocated for tabling or fundraiser supplies.
“A lot of us on the executive board and I put so much of our own money into it. It’s getting a little financially exhausting and it’s hard because it’s such a good cause,” Kruger said. “We’ve been looking into getting some funding from the school, but it’s been difficult to qualify for any of that.”
Aeilts said students should get involved with Pinky Swear to come together for a good cause.
“If you’re looking for something to do, as long as you know that you want to help people and you have that spark and that passion, you should join Pinky Swear,” Aeilts said.
Pinky Swear meets 7 p.m. every other Sunday in CSU room 203. Meetings are open to anyone. Applications are open for next year’s executive board. Their next meeting is April 2.
To learn more about the Pinky Swear program, head over to pinkyswear.org.
Header photo: Laine Aeilts (left) and Alysha Kruger discuss about the fundraising struggles of Pinky Swear and how most funds come straight from student pockets. (Dominic Bothe/The Reporter)
Write to Emma Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org