When it comes to young boys, sports, video games and discovering the latest toys rank at the top of the list for day-to-day activities. When your friend is diagnosed with cancer, somehow all of that doesn’t seem as important.
Childhood cancer remains the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States. Every day, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer. That’s nearly two children per hour. When Teagan Stedman found out his friend Alex had been diagnosed, he wanted to do more than draft up a get-well card or buy him a gift. He wanted to help; to make a difference; to get involved—all while lifting his friend’s spirits. Except there was one problem: every organization he reached out to told him he was too young.
His response? He went ahead and started his own organization.
In 2008, when Teagan was just eight years old, he founded Shred Kids’ Cancer, combining his love for music and the idea that kids could take control to support their peers during, arguably, one of the most challenging—and often isolating—periods in their life. In 2009, he planned the very first Shredfest concert fundraiser at The Roxy on the Sunset Strip. Since then, he’s taken the stage with rock band legends like Slash and Matt Sorum of Guns n’ Roses and Shavo from System of a Down.
Teagan’s tenacity has flourished beyond hosting concerts, events and recruiting fellow Shreadheads. When he lost his friend and fellow Shred Kids’ Cancer Board Member Ashley to the irreversible toxic effects of chemotherapy, he decided then that he needed to take action to improve the care, quality of life and survival rate for children with cancer.
In 2014, he began his research—taking online biology classes and nanotechnology classes, and enrolling in advanced summer programs to learn more. Understanding the irreparable harm done to a child’s body when they receive the same treatment as adults—which is currently the only available option—he created a new scientific innovation to deliver medicine and effectively treat tumors while leaving the healthy cells unharmed.
Did we mention his full-time job is being a regular high school student?
Today—aside from normal 17-year-old responsibilities—he is working with University of Connecticut Health’s Institute for Regenerative Engineering to formulate, develop and perform experimental research under a National Science Foundation Grant. In partnership with the Jefferson Awards Foundation, Teagan will also become a 2017 GlobeChanger in the GlobeChangers program, an incubator for young social entrepreneurs that provides mentorship, training, and a support network for the country’s most promising leaders ages 5-25.
No barrier has been too big for Teagan to overcome. His caring, creative and problem-solving nature has broken down obstacle after obstacle in hopes of saving more children’s lives. To date, Shred Kids’ Cancer has funded nine clinical trials and raised more than $350,000 in donations to support programs at Mattel Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
Please help us in congratulating Teagan Stedman on his outstanding accomplishments as our 2017 World of Children Youth Award Honoree!