Getting the word out about pediatric cancer has been Janelle Krumlauf's mission since 2006, when she founded the nonprofit Nellie's Catwalk for Kids Inc.
With September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the next planned event will be a balloon launch in Huber Park on Sept. 26.
"We're just trying to do different things as far as creating more awareness, not only for our organization but for pediatric cancer in general," she said. "We really want to honor those we've lost and (offer) a little bit of hope for a cure as well, so we thought what would be cool would be to launch hundreds of gold balloons into the air."
The balloon launch will start at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 26, in Huber Park off of Davidson Drive in Reynoldsburg. The event is only designed to raise awareness about children battling cancer, Krumlauf said. There is no charge.
She said the balloon launch will be the first of its type held by her organization and she hopes it will draw 500 people to launch gold balloons.
Krumlauf, a 2009 Reynoldsburg High School graduate, is majoring in public relations at Ohio Dominican University. Since 2006, she said, her organization has raised more than $50,000 for childhood cancer research.
The money raised has come from donations and an annual fashion show featuring children whose lives have been touch by cancer.
The money is given to the American Cancer Society, with the largest portion going to Nationwide Children's Hospital for cancer research.
Krumlauf said some money is also spent for such things as sending the family a child with cancer on a vacation or granting wishes to local youngsters with cancer.
In addition to the fashion show, she said the organization has grown in the last four years and now includes 13 separate Nellie's Clubs that were established throughout the greater Columbus area in just the last year.
"We had only one club last year at Pickerington North High School and they raised a little over $2,000 for us," Krumlauf said.
She said Jessica Soroky, a 2009 PHS North graduate, headed that club and after graduating, became more involved by networking with different schools in Columbus and starting more clubs.
"This has definitely been a big year for us," Krumlauf said. "I've always been a big believer in age is just a number. And teens do have a voice, so it's cool to see all these teens in Columbus that are in Nellie's Club and making a difference.
"I love all the recognition that breast cancer awareness gets but what kills me is that childhood cancer should get just as much recognition, if not more," she said. "It breaks my heart to see these kids that haven't even been able to live their life or gone through school or anything, and they're suffering from cancer."
In addition to the balloon launch, Nellie's Catwalk for Kids has created other awareness events in September:
• The Pepsi Co. is conducting a contest to grant $50,000 to the organization that receives the most votes on the Web site www.RefreshEverything.com and Krumlauf said she's hoping Nellie's Catwalk for Kids will be a winner.
People can vote once a day. The organizations that get the top 10 most votes will be eligible to win.
• On Sept. 17, DeSales High School will dedicate its football game to Nellie's Catwalk for Kids and childhood cancer awareness.
• On Sept. 19, the Ohio Academy Paul Mitchell Partner School, 3000 Morse Road, will host a cut-a-thon to help Nellie's Catwalk for Kids. Those interested in participating pay $10 for a haircut, and will be treated to a mini fashion show between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
• On Sept. 24, Pickerington High School North will dedicate its football game to the cause.
To donate or find out more about Nellie's Catwalk for Kids, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.catwalk4kids.com.