Crowns Against Cancer: Helping put smiles on faces of kids who need it most

Their mission: To put a smile on the face of a sick or special needs child.
Their mission: To put a smile on the face of a sick or special needs child.

This week’s Your Neighborhood features a non profit based right here in Metro Detroit but during the pandemic, they’ve expanded their services virtually worldwide.

Their mission: To put a smile on the face of a sick or special needs child. You might remember reading about 4-year old Lena back when she was one of the many kids kicking cancer. To date, her most recent scans have shown that she is cancer free. It’s been a long four years for her and her parents who shared how another local organization helped bring a smile to Lena’s face during the darkest of times.

“They just treat them so wonderful,” said Lena’s mom, Amanda Kaczur. “She interacts with them. They play with her and they have made her just so happy on more than one occasion.”

Lena’s parents, Amanda and William Kaczur, are talking about the non-profit Crowns Against Cancer.

“What our mission is -- we send children’s favorite characters to visit them,” said Crowns Against Cancer co-founder Ilinca Caluser. “We want to provide a piece of somebody’s childhood back at a time where they should just get to be a kid.”

The non profit was started by Caluser and Ria Perez about four years ago. It was incredibly popular and a huge hit with sick children and their families.

“It just grew to be this amazing organization that’s become like a family,” Caluser said.

“It’s seeing their reaction and their wonder to seeing these characters it makes us believe in our own magic and it’s a great feeling,” said Perez.

Crowns Against Cancer partners with a number of hospitals in the area to coordinate visits. Initially the organization just visited children fighting cancer but now includes any child with any illness or special needs. During the pandemic they are seeing children beyond Metro Detroit and Michigan. Virtually, they can visit kids all across the world.

“We’ve just seen their faces completely transform and just this light come across it,” Caluser said. “They just brighten up when they see our characters. We’ve been able to transform them out of that hospital room and out of that hospital bed and the IV pole becomes you know like a tower and the bed becomes a boat and they’re on a voyage with our characters.”

If Lena is any indication, their mission is accomplished time and time again.

“We’re so grateful to be connected to them because to see that magic in children when it comes out it really truly means everything,” said Lena’s father.

For more information on Crowns Against Cancer, please visit:

Detroit non profit organization brings art to community, even during pandemic

A Detroit non profit organization is making art accessible for everyone in many different ways, and it has some big names on board to help make it possible.

Right in the heart of Detroit, next to the DIA, is a special place to all of the arts. In fact, it’s a place where the community and the arts come together.

“The Carr Center is a multi-disciplinary arts organization,” said Sarah Norat-Phillips, from the Carr Center. “We perform. We do performances. We produce concerts. We have dance classes and we have music classes. We run visual arts programming, which is where we are right now.”

Norat-Phillips is the Carr Center production manager at their Kirby Street visual arts gallery in Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood. They’ve been serving the community for 30 years.

Read more here.

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About the Author:

Evrod Cassimy is the morning anchor for Local 4 News Today. He joined WDIV in August of 2013. He is an award winning journalist and a six-time Emmy Award nominee. Evrod was born in Michigan but grew up in the Chicagoland area.