About Us

The Childhood Cancer Coalition is dedicated to a distinctive mission: providing comprehensive support to families navigating childhood cancer treatments and assisting them in rebuilding their lives after cancer. Our organization brings together individuals who have personally experienced the challenges of childhood cancer, ensuring a deep understanding of the journey.

By donating, you can significantly impact the lives of children with cancer and their families. Your contribution will enable us to offer emotional and practical support, educational resources, patient advocacy, and, most importantly, the reassurance that no child or family will ever face cancer alone. Together, we can enhance the well-being and resilience of these courageous children and their loved ones.

Join us in our commitment to creating a light amid the darkest hours for children battling cancer.

 Your support truly makes a difference.

 

Our History

Our organization’s roots date back to 1977 when it was established as the Inland Northwest Candlelighters, a part of the statewide group called Washington Candlelighters. The Candlelighters movement originated in 1970 when a dedicated group of parents of children with cancer came together to advocate for the unique needs of young cancer patients.

In 1998, recognizing the need to better cater to our specific geographic areas, we decided to separate from WWA Candlelighters and formed our own group, the Inland Northwest Candlelighters. During this transition, we underwent the incorporation process and became an independent 501(c)3 organization. This change allowed us to represent and serve the families within our region more accurately. It’s important to note that many families seeking treatment come to Spokane from Eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Western Montana.

As a parent-driven organization, we have remained steadfast in our mission of supporting children with cancer and their families. Throughout the years, we have welcomed compassionate community members who share our dedication to making a positive difference in the lives of these courageous children. Our belief has always been unwavering: “No child or family will ever face cancer alone!”

In 2010, we officially adopted the name American Childhood Cancer Organization Inland Northwest, aligning ourselves with the resources of the American Childhood Cancer Organization. This connection further solidified our commitment to supporting children with cancer and their families while also advocating for research to help find a cure for children’s cancer.

Today, we proudly announce our rebranding as the Childhood Cancer Coalition. This new name reflects our ongoing dedication to serving our kids and their families while also reaching out to our local communities, inviting them to partner with us in bringing hope during one of the darkest times a child and their family can experience.

We are excited about the future and the opportunities it holds to continue making a meaningful impact. Together, as the Childhood Cancer Coalition, we will light the way, providing support, advocacy, and hope to children with cancer and their families. We invite you to join us on this important journey.

A New Chapter

Why we chose the name Childhood Cancer Coalition:

The Childhood Cancer Coalition represents an organized group of individuals, organizations, and resources dedicated to addressing the needs of children with cancer and their families. It serves as a centralized hub for information, support, and advocacy.

We play a crucial role in coordinating various services and programs to ensure comprehensive support for children with cancer. We bring together healthcare professionals, support groups, volunteers, and other stakeholders to collaborate and provide assistance in areas such as medical care, emotional support, financial aid, research, and awareness campaigns.

We act as a bridge between families facing childhood cancer and the wider community. By leveraging the collective efforts and resources of the community to help create a network of support that can address the unique challenges faced by children with cancer and their families.

Why we chose the firefly as our logo:

The synchronous firefly is a mesmerizing creature that demonstrates a natural phenomenon where fireflies come together and synchronize their flashing light patterns. It is a metaphor for the collective support and unity within a community. Just like a firefly illuminates the darkness, it also represents a whimsical and joyful spark that brings light to our lives.

Similarly, in the context of childhood cancer, the community coming together to support children and their families can create a powerful and synchronized effort. Just as the fireflies align their flashing lights, the community can align its resources, services, and support to create a unified front against childhood cancer. We are a Coalition.

Both represent the power of coming together, synchronizing resources, and creating a network of support to bring light and hope to those facing the challenges of childhood cancer.

Our Financials

990 Forms

Meet the Board

Kim Dempsey

President

Eddie Wood

Vice President

Connie Hill-Bunch

Treasurer

John Nelson

Secretary

Greg McGuire

Event Services

Maile Aden

Board Member

Rachel Druffel

Board Member

Jenna Brunette

Board Member

Ashley Salzwedel

Board Member

Meet The Staff

Leslie Woodfill

Executive Director

Denise Moss

Patient Services Manager

Lindsay Morgan

Program Coordinator

Summer Ford

Bookkeeping & Data Coordinator

Kim Dempsey

President

This is Kim and her son, Sam, on his first day of chemotherapy. Just before Sam’s 4th birthday, he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, which plunged their family into the world of pediatric oncology. After seven months of chemo and countless follow-up scans, Sam is doing great and shows no sign of his disease.

Throughout their journey, Kim and her family felt the power of the support network provided by ACCOIN and resolved to help other families who have children battling cancer. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Kim is a graduate of Eastern Washington University (BS, Biology & Chemistry) and Indiana University (Master, Strategic Management) and works in the medical device field.

She lives in Spokane with her husband and two children and enjoys being active, spending time with family and friends, and cheering on her kids as they pursue world domination.

Eddie Wood

Vice President

Eddie Wood lives in the Spokane area with his wife and their three girls (one set of twins). He is an avid sportsman and thrill-seeker (motocross!) who works in medical sales; through his knowledge of the health industry reaches far beyond the professional. At the tender age of seven, Eddie was diagnosed with stage IV rhabdomyosarcoma and given a 22% chance of survival. Eddie emerged cancer-free and has remained in remission these 31 years and counting. Eddie brings to the ACCOIN community the unique adult perspective of a childhood cancer survivor (and son of a health care professional) with an experiential understanding of the direct impact and implications of a pediatric cancer diagnosis. His passion for the cause is palpable to all who cross his path.

Connie Hill-Bunch

Treasurer

Connie’s beloved daughter Amanda survived brain cancer at age 12, but tragically passed away in December 2006 at age 18 after an intense year-long battle with Acute Myelocytic Leukemia. Amanda and her parents were active members of ACCOIN for 6 years, both as participants in family and teen activities and as volunteers for many fundraising and awareness events. They greatly appreciate all the support they have received from ACCOIN during Amanda’s illnesses and remission and since her passing. In memory of Amanda’s loving and compassionate spirit, Connie is determined to help ease the burden of ACCOIN families as they navigate the nightmare of childhood cancer. Besides being the Board Treasurer, she also provides technical support. Connie has a B.S. from EWU in Information Science, a degree that combined math, computer science, accounting, and decision science. She has been self-employed for many years providing software development and technical support primarily for the wholesale forest products industry.

John Nelson

Secretary

John was born and raised in Spokane and resides here with his wife, son, and daughter. After graduating from EWU, he has worked in the banking industry since 2005. John was a Branch Manager and AVP in retail banking with Wells Fargo Bank until 2020 when he moved to Commercial Banking. When not spending valuable time with his family, you will find John at the golf course, taking in a sporting event, or volunteering out in our wonderful community. John became passionate about ACCOIN after hearing about the wonderful organization from other board members. He learned about all they do to help local children and their families and wanted to be a part of it. He knows how important this cause is to everyone in our community. He truly values the opportunity ACCOIN has given him to serve this wonderful organization and local children with cancer and their families.

Greg McGuire

Event Services

Greg is the Gonzaga University Event Service Team Operations Manager(GUEST). He has a BA from WSU and is the owner of GM Entertainment. Greg has been involved with ACCOIN since 1992, when he started entertaining at the annual Christmas party.

This organization is very special to him as he’s made life-long friends and connections. Now Greg helps out with day camps and annual events like the dinner auction, summer party, and holiday party.

Maile Aden

Board Member

Maile lives in the Spokane area with her husband and their four children. Born & raised in Hawaii and living in the Pacific Northwest, Maile enjoys the ocean, rivers, lakes & mountains! Running, skiing, camping, rafting, “going to the beach,” & surfing are my favorite family activities.

Maile attended Whitworth University, receiving a B.A. in Elementary Education and an M.Ed. in School Administration. She worked for 17 years in the Mead and Spokane Public School Districts as an elementary school teacher, principal assistant & principal. Maile also served as the Director of Curriculum & Instruction for MCA in Taiwan. Currently, Maile’s primary focus is her family, their home & the plethora of activities in which they are all involved.

On Friday, March 10th, 2017, Maile took their youngest, Alexandra, to Sacred Heart ER; four hours later, and three weeks before her 7th birthday, Alex was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Since that overwhelmingly memorable & emotionally draining day, many blessings have emerged! (Childhood Cancer Coalition) ACCOIN has been a huge blessing throughout their family’s journey! Alex completed 2 1/2 years of treatment in July 2019 & remains cancer-free!

Maile’s family finds hope in Jeremiah 29:11 as well as inspiration from Bethany Hamilton, Alex’s UNSTOPPABLE hero, “I don’t need easy, I just need possible.”

Rachel Druffel, PharmD

Board Member

Rachel is a lifelong Spokane resident, Clinical Pharmacist, and mother of two beautiful daughters.

Rachel joined the Childhood Cancer Coalition Board of Directors in February 2022. Rachel was drawn to the mission after witnessing firsthand the miraculous work of the Childhood Cancer Coalition as her daughter Stella (now a cancer SURVIVOR!) underwent treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia beginning in 2014. The love and support that CCC has provided to her family sparked a passion for volunteering and supporting the Childhood Cancer Coalition’s mission.

Rachel and her husband, Jason, live in Spokane with their two daughters, Stella and Ingrid. She enjoys time with family, the great outdoors, arts and crafts, and Gonzaga basketball.

Jenna Brunette, RN

Board Member

Jenna is a certified pediatric nurse & winner of the golden heart award.

Jenna has 17 years of experience as a pediatric nurse at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital the last 12 of which have been in pediatric oncology. She now works as a supplemental nurse in the outpatient pediatric oncology clinic where she gets to see firsthand the wonderful work CCC does.

She and her husband have been married for 20 years and have three children. She is so honored to be a member of CCC which is vital to helping local families during their child’s treatment and beyond.

Ashley Salzwedel

Board Member

Born in Oregon and raised in Spokane, Washington, Ashley Salzwedel is fortunate to call the PNW home. Aside from being a wife to Nick and a mom to Cruz and Pepper, she is a real estate broker/owner of The Salz Team alongside her husband, operating in the Greater Spokane/Coeur d’Alene area. She also gets great professional fulfillment from her national volunteer role with Tri Delta, being a member of the PTA at her kids’ school and leading a ministry for the women of Spokane at her church. 

A graduate from Washington State University with a BA in Communication and Spanish, it was there where Ashley was introduced to the world of childhood cancer through philanthropy. Since 2001, Ashley has actively been involved in raising money, awareness, and support for various childhood cancer organizations such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Cure Childhood Cancer in Atlanta, GA and Childhood Cancer Coalition here in Spokane. Ashley is deeply passionate about making a tangible impact in the fight against childhood cancer, a cause that has broken her heart for over 2 decades. 

Away from the world of real estate and philanthropy, Ashley thrives on new adventures, is an avid traveler, loves exploring new restaurants and spending time with her family.

Leslie Woodfill

Executive Director

Leslie Woodfill has served in the non-profit world for over 25 years.

She entered the non-profit world as a volunteer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and then transitioned into the role of wish-granting and Regional Co-Director for children in Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho, and Montana.

In 2015 she took on the role of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho Walk Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association where she managed all details for 4 walks, built awareness, and raised funds to help in the quest for a world without Alzheimer’s and other Dementias.

Leslie has been a volunteer of the local American Childhood Cancer Organization Inland Northwest since 2002. She is excited to step into the role of Executive Director with the opportunity to make a difference in this special mission of supporting educating, service, and advocating for the children & families of children with cancer, survivors of childhood cancer, and the professionals who care for them.

Denise Moss

Patient Services Manager

My oldest daughter Rebecca went through chemo and radiation at the age of 3 ½ for embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma. She had a 15% chance of survival. We discovered quickly that childhood cancer treatment affects the whole family and can be a lonely, isolating journey full of fear and uncertainty.

A group called Candlelighters was by our side every step of the way, and we are now called the Childhood Cancer Coalition. These people knew what we were going through because they had been down that road themselves, and that personal connection is the most powerful tool for coping.

Rebecca became a beacon of light and hope for other families until she passed away from a heart condition in 2018 at the age of 31.

As Program Manager, it is my honor and privilege to meet families at diagnosis, learn how best to make their long days at the hospital brighter and provide five monthly support groups to support one another.

Lindsay Morgan

Part-Time Program Coordinator

My name is Lindsay Morgan, and my son Jackson was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma at age two. After 13 months of chemotherapy and countless days spent at the sacred heart, we can now say Jackson is cancer-free! Throughout Jackson’s year-long battle, Childhood Cancer Coalition was a strong and consistent support group that was always there for our family and became like family as well. We moved to the Spokane area two months before Jackson’s diagnosis. With no family or friends close by, the staff of the Childhood Cancer Coalition and Sacred Heart staff quickly became close to our hearts. I can’t express how honored I am to become a part of the Childhood Cancer Coalition family and help be a part of the support network that has done so much for our family in the most difficult time of our lives. Looking forward, our family is excited about many days spent adventuring and backpacking around the beautiful PNW together.

Summer Ford

Part-Time Bookkeeping and Data Coordinator

Hi, my name is Summer Ford. Originally from Texas, our family moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2017.

My husband, Ryan, and I raised three amazing children and are officially empty nesters and devoted dog parents to two energetic labs, Jax and Phoebe.

My three children are all Washington State University Cougs…Holt, Hunter, and Hannah. In the spring of 2021, our middle Coug, Hunter, suddenly became very ill while at school in Pullman and was shockingly diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. He bravely battled for 36 days, but cancer quickly ravaged his once-perfect 19-year-old body, and he sadly lost his fight that April.

The amazing Pediatric Oncology and PICU staff at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, as well as the support we received from organizations such as the Childhood Cancer Coalition, changed my life and perspective forever. I recently obtained a Master’s in Health Communication and Promotion from Washington State University in honor of Hunter, focusing much of my coursework on childhood cancer awareness, child loss, and sibling grief. My experience has led me to this position with CCC and an opportunity to work alongside others who share a passion for our organization’s mission and the families we support.