Adopt a Pig

One family’s personal creative escape launched an organization committed to helping all families facing a child’s cancer diagnosis.

By Diana Price

When Reagen Amand was undergoing treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2005, the then-three-and-a-half-year-old and her dad, Rob, found welcome distraction in an art project. Little did they know that the project—painting a ceramic piggy bank—would be the seed for an organization that would grow to help many other families cope with the challenges a cancer diagnosis brings.

As Reagen progressed through treatment, Rob and his wife, Vicki, found themselves considering how they could do something to ease the burden of the cancer journey for other kids and families. “You can’t go through something like this and not be affected,” says Rob. “Vicki and I could not just walk away without trying to do something.” Recalling the creative outlet the early father-daughter art project had provided, the Amands began thinking about how to make a similar experience available to others. “The piggy bank was the inspiration to do something unique and something that could have an immediate impact,” Rob says.

After initially distributing piggy banks for painting at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, where Reagen was treated, the Amands continued to expand on their idea, ultimately deciding to sell the painted piggy banks to raise funds for support services and coping tools for cancer patients and their families.

Now in its third year as a volunteer-run 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Adopt a Pig continues to provide art supplies and piggy banks to children’s hospitals, oncology clinics, and summer camps in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware, areas. These piggy banks are then adopted by sponsors, who pay an initial $25 fee and then work to fill the piggy banks with change; when the bank is full, the sponsor sends Adopt a Pig a check for the amount collected and keeps the bank as a personal reminder of the ongoing battle against pediatric cancer.

In addition to the piggy bank program, Adopt a Pig—through partnerships with corporations and individuals—provides children and their families with free access to special events that allow them to have fun and forget about cancer and treatment. Funds raised by the organization also helped build a Parent Room on the bone marrow transplant wing at Nemours, creating a warm and welcoming place for parents to retreat while their children are undergoing treatment.

This spring the organization added an additional component to its program: the Coping Kit. The Amands hope that the kits, filled with items ranging from personal care products, to gift cards for gas stations and major retailers, to personal entertainment products and non-perishable snacks, will provide immediate relief to families hearing “your child has cancer.”

In all the ways that Adopt a Pig is making a difference, the goal, Rob says, is to provide tools and experiences that help families cope with the devastating situation that a child’s cancer diagnosis creates. “My wife and I clearly understand this situation and the initial shock,” he says. “We want to provide some things that we know they will need to help them prepare for the fight ahead.”

For more information about Adopt a Pig or to sponsor a pig, visit www.adoptapig.org.