A CONVERSATION WITH REGINA ELLIS
Why did you decide to start CCA?
I started CCA with the goal of making the world a little better for thousands of kids like Alex whose childhoods are stolen by a diagnosis of illness, accident or injury.
Why is joy so important to a seriously ill child?
In the fight against devastating illness, joy is often forgotten. It connects us with the power of hope, comfort, and happiness and helps families and children feel uplifted when their lives have been turned upside down. And it’s something every child deserves.
You talk about something called the Joy Effect. What is it?
The transformation of a moment through friendship, play, nature or music is what we call the Joy Effect. My daughter Alex lived the Joy Effect and taught me that when we give, get, and share joy with others, we can change their lives and we can change our own lives too.
How has CCA changed in the last 20 years?
Nearly 20 years ago, we pioneered a one-of-a-kind music medicine program called MyMusicRx that lets kids choose the music experience that feels right to them while they’re in the hospital. Since then, we’ve expanded the program to include a digital element called MyMusicRX.org that kids can access 24/7 across the US and Canada. We’re also offering our free programs and services to more families than ever before—last year alone, the number of individual children served increased by 71%.
What is your vision for CCA’s future?
In the last 20 years, CCA has inspired over $39M in philanthropic contributions investing directly into programs delivering joy to the families and children in our community in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Going forward, our goal is to make JoyRx a recognized and measurable standard of care in pediatric treatment settings regionally, nationally and one day around the world.
CCA believes joy matters and music heals. For children diagnosed with serious illness and their families, every moment is precious. CCA’s goal is to transform as many of those moments as possible — with joy.
CCA didn’t start with a foundation, it started with a family. One who faced its own battle with serious pediatric illness 20 years ago in Portland, Oregon. From that experience came a passionate commitment and focus: To deliver the resources, the friendship, and the healing power of music to families facing the same challenges. Unlike many organizations dedicated to the worthy goal of someday finding a cure for cancer, CCA is all about creating joy today.
All of CCA’s programs, resources and services are delivered free of charge and made possible through individual, corporate and foundation support; they receive no state or federal funding. Their award-winning programs include:
- MyMusicRx’s in-hospital program includes bedside sing-alongs led by trained music specialists, instrument lending from our mobile music carts, tablet and headphone checkout, and live concerts from national recording artists. MyMusicRx.org extends that program to an online platform and invites kids to feel the music and feel better, by exploring exclusive artist greetings, concerts, music lessons, digital instruments and games, anytime, anywhere.Over the last six months, the digital MyMusicRx program has grown in reach exponentially. Today, over 4,500 children and teens in 18 pediatric hospitals across the country, and growing, can access our program and experience the healing power of music every day..
- The Alexandra Ellis Caring Cabin™ provides children and teens who are in treatment with an extraordinary place to retreat, relax, and create once-in-a-lifetime memories.
- The Link program connects families with resources and support during a difficult and financially depleting journey.
- The Chemo Pal Mentor program gives kids a caring, trusted adult friend to look forward to during treatments.
CCA also offers two resource directories—The Kids’ Cancer Pages and the Family Support Pages. Both contain many national and local resources to help support kids and families during their fight against pediatric illness.
We Prescribe Joy – An Introduction to the Children’s Cancer Association