raiseRED with Raven
Aside from the ongoing fundraising that raiseRED does, it is also important to us to be able to provide support to the children and families that we serve. That is how the Cardinal Crew program was created. The program pairs two college students with one patient from the clinic, ages 5-22. Through this mentorship, students have the opportunity to develop an amazing friendship while also providing support for the patient and their family during this time. Previously, the Cardinal Crew program was restricted to raiseRED leadership only. Though this year, due to a growing program and efforts to expand raiseRED’s reach, the Cardinal Crew mentor application is open to all UofL students! This change will ensure that every patient can have two mentors and allows students outside of the normal raiseRED population to get involved.
When I signed up to become a dancer for raiseRED my freshman year, I had no idea what to expect or what was in the future of such an amazing organization. I can remember at my first dance marathon in 2019 when my two team leaders shared stories about their Cardinal Buddies (Patient Pals at the time). They spoke about how evident it was that they were making a difference on their Patient Pal’s day after hanging out and seeing them but also how inspirational and impactful this relationship with their Pal was. I was so moved by their testimonies that by the end, I was ready to sign up myself. How could anyone pass up an
opportunity like that?
During my sophomore year, I joined raiseRED’s Committee as a Team Leader. Through this position, I was given the opportunity to become a mentor to Raven Brown, who suffers from Sickle Cell Anemia (SCA), a disease that hits close to home due to the fact that my little sister has Sickle Cell Trait. Raven was diagnosed with SCA when she was just 18 months old, and in that time, she has suffered from two strokes. Raven has allowed me to see what it is like to live a happy and abundant life amidst an illness. She has taught me that her sickness cannot and will not define her. She is such a kind, outgoing girl who is capable of putting a smile on anyone’s face. Raven also has a passion for dance and music as she usually preforms her own choreographed danced to Ciara’s song 1,2 Step at the dance marathon! Additionally, she has been looking into colleges since it is one of her dreams to become a teacher someday.
Every child with an illness wants to be known aside from it. It is so important to us that we partner with these kids to let them and their families know that they are not alone in this journey. As we always say, the students, faculty, sponsors, and donors involved with raiseRED
are fighting to give children their childhoods back. Many of us have been blessed to have that without knowing how much of a toll cancer or blood disease can have on it. So, the time we spend with our Cardinal Buddy going to a UofL football game, watching a new movie in theaters, teaching them how to play piano, or even just grabbing dinner allows them to be just that, a kid. Not a kid who goes through chemotherapy, gets blood transfusions, or any other kind a treatment. A smiling, laughing, fun-loving kid with an amazing college-age mentor who they have been given the opportunity to develop a worthwhile relationship with.
Raven, along with the other children I have been able to meet through the Cardinal Crew program, have stories that are truly inspiring. I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to be there as a support to them and can full-heartedly say that this has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had during my time at the University of Louisville. I encourage anyone who has any interest in becoming a Cardinal Crew mentor to apply as applications are released in the coming weeks! If you would like more information are welcome to visit the Cardinal Crew page or contact our Cardinal Crew Coordinator, Isabella Martin at familyrelations.raiseRED@gmail.com.
Service & Stewardship Coordinator