Brett’s dedication to critically ill children does not stop with providing camp services. Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation, identified a desperate area of need for their children; being critically ill with cancer prevented them from attending school and they were losing ground academically and socially. The Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation worked with Clark County School District and Sunrise Children’s Hospital to provide a full time accredited K-12 classroom for their cancer patients. After putting together a budget that included hiring a Director of Education and a full-time teacher to work with CCSD to create an Individual Service Plan for each child, Jeff and the NCCF’s board of directors realized they needed a generous benefactor to underwrite this ambitious and extremely necessary/impactful program.
In 2008, Jeff went to his friend, Brett Torino, who was already funding Camp Cartwheel, and again without hesitation, Brett said, “Let me know what needs to happen and we’ll get it done.” Brett has been solely funding the NCCF education program since its inception.
“It’s been said, it takes a village to raise and teach a child,” says Jeff Gordon. “Our village is anchored by the Brett Torino Foundation, who responded with a huge heart by offering to fund the entire program. That’s why NCCF named the 340-square foot educational facility on the 5th floor of the pediatric oncology unit at Sunrise Children’s Hospital the Brett Torino In-Patient Classroom.”
Thanks to the Brett Torino Foundation, the classroom which is open five days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., is equipped with school supplies, computers, a DVD player, and iPads. If a child doesn’t feel well enough to come to the classroom, a tutor goes to the child’s bedside.
Approximately 180 children are enrolled in the program every year. Gordon says it is the only place in the nation where a full-time classroom in a hospital was started and is operated by a local nonprofit and funded by a private donor, something NCCF and Brett Torino are very proud of.
In addition to the In-Patient Classroom, the Brett Torino Foundation Education Services funds several other services through NCCF:
NCCF’s Director of Education, a licensed clinical social worker, and each child’s doctor and nurse, work collectively with teachers, school nurses, counselors, social workers, psychologists, and other Clark County School District staff members to facilitate each child’s return to the classroom.
NCCF and the Brett Torino Foundation provide extra support to those students reentering school after they have missed six months of school or more with a special celebration. The celebration generously gifts the children with a new backpack, a gift card for new clothes, a special lunch and most of all the emotional support and enthusiasm needed for this time of transition.
Life-size puppets named Shane and Valerie help create a sensitive and understanding school environment for the children to return to by educating students and the school staff about the short and long term side-effects of cancer, sickle cell, hemophilia, and immunological disorders. They also learn the importance of acceptance and anti-bullying and appreciating people who are different and face challenges, a lesson that may have a lasting positive impact on them for the rest of their lives.
Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation in conjunction with the Brett Torino Foundation founded the C.A.P.S. program in 2009. This program honors students who have shown Courage, Achievement, Perseverance, and Success in the Brett Torino Foundation Education Services Program. In his annual keynote speech at the C.A.P.S. Ceremony, Brett shares his passion for this exclusive program and the deserving children who are served by it and succeed because of it.