Barack Obama said “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change we seek.” This quote describes the remarkable 1 Voice Foundation and 1 Voice Academy in Brandon, Florida. I had the honor and pleasure to speak with Mary Ann Massolio, Executive Director/Pediatric Oncology Social Worker for 1 Voice.

Hero is an extraordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of so many obstacles.” Christopher Reeves

1 Voice Foundation is a private foundation whose focus is on the CAUSE, the CARE, and the CURE to support children with cancer and their families. Dr. Cameron Tebbi is working on the development of a vaccine for leukemia.There are 25 programs to support pediatric cancer families. From Tots Together Oncology, Tuesday Tutoring, Family Night and SIBS (Strength in brothers and sisters) there are supports in place to meet the needs of children and families. Families are supported financially, emotionally, and educational through 1 Voice Foundation and 1 Voice Academy. Mary Ann is the single paid staff member. All of the other programs are supported by an amazing group of steadfast volunteers, many of whom have experienced first hand their child, and family, being impacted by cancer. Mary Ann shared that parents and families want to help out. Giving back provides them the opportunity to feel included and useful. A group of teenagers from Newsome High School formed the 1 Voice Club that support 1 Voice in a multitude of ways. All programs are free to families. These families become lifetime members with 1 Voice Foundation. They are in this together, forever. Through highs and lows. Through grief and joy. 

We have two options medically and emotionally: give up or fight like hell.” Lance Armstrong

Since 1993 Mary Ann has worked as a Pediatric Oncology Social Worker providing support to children and their families going through the trauma of a cancer diagnosis and sickle cell anemia. In 1996 her 9 year old son Jay was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She quickly went from the staff lounge to the patient lounge being comforted by mothers she had been providing support to. Her son LOVED school yet due to his medical diagnosis could not attend his school nor the school at the hospital. Mary Ann was confident there would be a school for her son and there was not. Jay died 6 months after his diagnosis before his learning in a school could be continued. When Mary Ann returned to work she came back with a vengeance. Wanting to be effective for the children, for the parents, and wanting to get in place a school for these kids going through so much.

Sometimes, real superheroes live in the hearts of small children fighting big battles.” Unknown

Fifteen years ago Mary Ann began to revisit the idea of getting a school in place to support these children who cannot be around other children in a traditional or hospital school due to life-threatening illnesses. She talked to people in Congress about having schools in every state to provide schooling and educational support to pediatric cancer patients.  Often the only educational support is a tutor provided to come to the child’s house for an hour or so every day. However if the child is spiking a fever or needs to go to the hospital that learning is canceled and will happen another day. This is one of the many disruptions that happen to these children and their families.

Thinking of all the parents tonight. Who will be up taking temperatures, dialing the after hour line, driving to the ER in darkness and worry, calming their children before a late night poke, pacing the hospital hallways and falling asleep to the beeps of the machines now hooked up to their child for another night.” Unknown

When the COVID pandemic shut down the world, an opportunity with the right kind of space to establish a school for pediatric cancer patients happened with Rotary’s Camp Florida. Twenty two acres with buildings and space that could educate children while providing a multitude of other services and support for families as well. One thing led to another and the 1 Voice Academy was formed, becoming the first school for children diagnosed with cancer in the United States. This space provides safety, comfort, and fun for all ages day and night, weekday and weekend. Where children, siblings, parents, and caregivers can experience fun, joy, laughter, connection, and normalcy. The school setting provides children the environment to learn in a space that supports their medical needs in a healthy design. 1 Voice Foundation and 1 Voice Academy have built trusted relationships with community partners who provide support to children and families in 1 Voice Academy in  a variety of ways. Mary Ann’s hope is this model of caring and support can become a national one. Where all states have schools in place for pediatric oncology patients. 

It is with honor and admiration we shine the Kindness Champion spotlight on the remarkable 1 Voice Foundation and 1 Voice Academy. We thank you for all you do and for bringing your awesome to the world.

To learn more about the phenomenal 1 Voice Foundation and 1 Voice Academy here is their information:


Twitter: @1VoiceOrg

Facebook: @1VoiceFoundation