why we exist
Founded by two fathers who lost their children to cancer, Solving Kids’ Cancer identifies and addresses the areas of greatest need in childhood cancer research. Our proactive agenda puts the child at the center of everything we do. We collaborate with researchers and institutions nationally and internationally to ensure that we fund the most promising research, reach more children, and solve kids’ cancer sooner.
The inspiration for John London in co-founding Solving Kids' Cancer belongs solely to his daughter, Penelope, who once told him "I want no one to feel yucky Daddy". The mission of both his life and that of Catherine's is to make sure that no other children and families suffer the loss his family has had to endure with the passing of Penelope. As Chairman of the Board of Directors, John has primary responsibilities with SKC that include leadership and overall management of organizational governance, compliance, donor cultivation, and fundraising. John also serves as a strategic advisor in all areas of therapeutic development. John is a Portfolio Manager at Hudson Bay Capital. He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University.
Scott co-founded SKC in 2007 as a tribute to his son, Hazen Kennedy, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at age 3. Hazen was Scott's inspiration for creating Solving Kids' Cancer in part because Hazen wanted to become a scientist when he grew up in order to help people by creating new medicines. As Executive Director, Scott Kennedy is involved in all aspects of SKC, from managing operational staff and fundraising to policy development and fiscal management. He is integrally involved in the identification, funding, and management of the organization's scientific programs. Before co-founding SKC, Scott worked in marketing at CDW in Chicago and Pfizer in New York City. He also founded a New York City theatre and sightseeing business, Manfreakinhattan. Scott has a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Psychology from Indiana University and a MBA from the Asian Institute of Management.
“I don’t want anybody to ever feel yucky.”
Penelope was born a very healthy, beautiful, playful, extraordinary and happy baby. Hindsight doesn’t give us the privilege of knowing where things went wrong. But they did. They went terribly, terribly wrong when she was diagnosed with a very rare form of pediatric cancer when she was 16 months old. Up until then there was absolutely no indication whatsoever that she was sick, not from the pediatricians’ perspective, nor from the keen eye of an experienced parent. It was like watching those television commercials about horrible diseases that strike other children, but you just know in your gut, and you thank God, that it will never happen to your child. But it did.
And that is all that will be said about her illness in this portion of the website -- that it can strike any child, at any time, and in the most surreptitious of ways. After all, this page is about Penelope, as she would have wanted it to be; not about her illness and subsequent death short of her 5th birthday. The illness did not define her; but her strength and courage during her life is what will drive and define the momentum to ultimately find a cure.
Penelope was the strongest life force we have ever felt. She practically glowed. No person was more radiant, beautiful, courageous, or loving. To know her was to have your soul penetrated by pure goodness. Life was her canvas for us to watch her display such joy and beauty; it was a wondrous rainbow of colors, life, determination, energy, intelligence, and love.
Penelope brightened every room she entered both with the sparkle in her eyes and the corners of her mouth that would always rise just so into that amazing smile that took over her face. Her thirst for life truly permeated her every move and engaged everyone around her. Whether it was putting on big girl make-up with her older sister Isabelle, or jumping the waves and riding bikes with her little brother Oliver, baking cupcakes and making whipped cream -- always insisting on licking the spoon. She just wanted to play, learn, have fun, and to be made to laugh. She taught us and everyone around her how to live life to its fullest, how to stay in the moment, and how to make the best of every single part of every day, even when she was feeling deeply “yucky.”
Our greatest gift is that we will forever be Penelope’s parents. Her nearly five years were a blessing, and in her short time, her smile, laugh, determination, and absolute love for life affected so many who came in contact with her or followed her story. Our inspiration for co-founding Solving Kids' Cancer belongs solely to our amazing daughter who once told us, "I don’t want anybody to ever feel yucky.” Our hope is to make her wish come true.
Hazen was a problem solver. He loved mazes and conquered them with delightful fervor. He loved puzzles of all varieties, and would figure out a way to find solutions.
At 18 months old, he could direct his stroller from his home on Tenth Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, to his favorite store for his favorite animal crackers, which was located nearly a mile away. With a “Dis way,” and a “Dat way,” Hazen was determined to get what he wanted, and made sure we knew it. When he was little, he conquered his fears of sitting on Santa’s lap because he simply had to tell him that he NEEDED a remote control car. That Christmas he independently received four.
Hazen knew his states on a map. He even collected state quarters, and often lamented about spending Georgia on a bubblegum machine at Macy’s. Hazen loved yo-yos. He loved bugs. He loved pumpkin bread, and cats. He loved his friends, and to dance. He loved a girl, who just happened to be his best friend’s little sister. Hazen loved jokes, and would teach them to clowns at the hospital…because he loved clowns.
Hazen loved Pennsylvania. He loved Michigan. He loved seeing his family, and being the center of a big love huddle. Hazen loved magic. He loved learning tricks and loved performing and watching. He loved figuring things out and loved sharing the wonder of how things are done with others. “Amazin’ Hazen” would perform for anyone at any time, sharing laughs and smiles along the way. Hazen loved board games and would absorb them voraciously, and would tear through them the way people tear through them; mastering one and needing another challenge. Hazen loved science. Hazen loved fairies, and fairy doors. He loved to share presents with other people, and always thought about what people needed, and how to help them. That was just his way. People felt him. People loved him. People were grateful for the magic in his eyes that undoubtedly spoke of love and mischief.
There are so many things that we wanted Hazen to see with those eyes. We wanted him to see his dreams of becoming a scientist realized. We wanted him to see real monkeys that looked like his favorite toy he brought to the hospital. We wanted him to see his children. We wanted him to see a life without cancer. Without cancer, we would still have Hazen, whom we love.