It is a rarity today to find anyone who has not been affected by cancer’s reach, but it is great encouragement to learn about the organizations and doctors who are fighting to beat the odds. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and with its close we want to share about Walk with Sally. It’s an organization supporting families struggling with cancer, providing hope through mentorship of children as well as family activities.

We had the opportunity to ask Nick Arquette more about his story and the mission of Walk with Sally, which he founded in order to honor his mother, Sally.

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Darling Magazine: How did Walk with Sally begin?

Nick Arquette: I was missing my mom ten years ago and realized no one ever mentioned her name since she passed away when I was 16 years old. My mom, Sally, was a single mom with two kids and worked two jobs to support us. Then, breast cancer impacted our lives.

Ten years ago I did a course in Landmark Education where they encouraged us to create a community project. Within a year, I had my pilot program in Lawndale, where we matched myself and a child, Houssany, who had also lost his mom to cancer. From that moment, I knew my mom’s death wasn’t in vain and Walk With Sally was born. Through Walk With Sally, my mom’s memory and strength live on.

DM: What is the legacy Walk with Sally aims for?

Nick: Walk With Sally aims to match every child going through the impact of cancer worldwide. Sally represents moms and dads struggling to give a child a “normal” life while they fight to live. In the matter of unfortunate circumstances and a family member passes, Walk With Sally is there through the ups and downs.

Sally represents moms and dads struggling to give a child a “normal” life while they fight to live.

DM: What role does mentorship play in Walk with Sally?

Nick: The key component to our program at Walk With Sally is specific mentoring. The cancer story resonates with the adult mentor and child mentee. They both have relatedness (a cancer story). Every child wants to be known. We fill the void when parents, guardians and siblings have cancer and the focus is on healing. Kids can get lost in the shuffle and Walk With Sally doesn’t let that happen.

DM: How does Walk with Sally get involved in the community?

Nick: We create a community of like minded individuals. It’s rare to find someone who hasn’t been impacted by cancer in some way. I like to think Walk With Sally creates a platform for folks to jump in and get involved. Having fun in the fact of a negative chapter in our lives. We also create a family environment and wrap our arms around families going through cancer. We wrap our arms around them by offering temporary financial support, quarterly activities and community outreach. No one goes through cancer alone.

DM: Is there a particular mentorship story that sticks out to you?

Nick: When I first started the program I was introduced to a 10 year old from Lawndale, CA named Dezi. Her mom had died of cancer a year after she was born. She lived with her dad in a one bedroom apartment as he dedicated his life to keeping her on a straight and narrow path, this despite living off disability. When we met and matched Dezi she was a scared and shy little girl with a protective dad in tow, and on that day we introduced her to the woman who would become her mentor, sister and mother figure.

Through Walk With Sally, Dezi met other kids who had a cancer story and she began to blossom and find her voice.

Michele had lost her closest aunt to cancer and loved the idea of turning a negative into positive. Dezi and Michele built trust as Walk With Sally helped to guide them and their friendship. Through Walk With Sally, Dezi met other kids who had a cancer story and she began to blossom and find her voice. Michele introduced her to theater, make-up and the feeling that she could be a strong, independent young woman. Eight years later, Dezi is enrolled at Humbolt State University and recently received Walk With Sally’s first college scholarship. We are so proud! (Check out her video.)

DM: How can our readers get involved?

Nick: It’s easy to get involved with Walk With Sally. We are always looking for anyone who loves kids and wants to help. Every first Thursday of each month we host a Welcome Session at our Los Angeles office. To get more information on our upcoming sessions, email Julie Cegelski at jcegelski@walkwithsally.org. You can also visit our website and find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @WalkWithSally #WalkWithSally.

Image via Teal Thomsen

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