Mom's Plea to Turn National Landmark Gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness Goes Viral​

A mom who lost her son to neuroblastoma, a form of pediatric cancer, has launched a campaign to turn the Empire State Building gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness month in September. Maya Thompson's hashtag, #EmpireGoGold, has gone viral ... and she says she won’t stop until New York City’s famed landmark shines its light on childhood cancer, the number one disease killer of kids.

Surely, childhood cancer is a more worthwhile cause than the Empire State Building turning green in honor of the 25th anniversary of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or blue in recognition of the upcoming Democratic National Convention (both approved) ... but she keeps getting rejected. And she’s not the only mom who has applied on behalf of a child they have lost to the devastating disease.

The Stir sat down with Thompson, the mom blogger behind Rock Star Ronan, to hear how her son inspires her to keep the pressure on the Empire State Building to go gold.


How long have you been trying to turn the Empire State Building gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?
An official Lighting Partnership Application was completed last year on behalf of The Ronan Thompson Foundation. We are dedicated to finding a cure for neuroblastoma, the form of childhood cancer that took my beloved 3-year-old son’s life. 

The Foundation received a “no” from the Empire State Building. No explanation was offered. Right when I got the denial, I gave birth to my baby girl. I was in a place where I brought a new life into the world. I was trying to give her all of the love and attention she deserves. Sadly, she’s never going to be able to meet her big brother.

So, I swallowed a bitter pill I didn’t want to swallow, and I put the application denial on the back burner to bond with my baby.

When did you start your campaign again?
Childhood Cancer Awareness month is in September. Forty-six kids are diagnosed with cancer a day ... and 7 kids will die from it. Every 16 hours, a child dies from the kind of cancer that killed Ronan. Childhood cancer is the least funded out of all the cancers. Raising awareness is vital.

I started posting on my social media pages about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and I brought up the fact that the Empire State Building denied our application last year. I was shocked to hear from at least 10 other parents who have lost children to cancer that they, too, submitted applications that were denied. We were outraged when we made that connection. 

What kind of responses have you received since you went public with this issue?
I posted about what happened on Facebook and Instagram. I tweeted at the Empire State Building to please consider going gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness month repeatedly. The response from supporters is overwhelming ... they are so disgusted. The Empire State Building has been flooded with thousands of messages, comments, and phone calls from people who want an explanation.

Instead of making an official statement about this, the Empire State Building is deleting comments, erasing photos parents post of kids they have lost to cancer, and blocking the word “gold” on Instagram. I left a review on Yelp about the Empire State Building and my comments were deleted because it “didn’t meet guidelines.” They are trying to sweep it under the rug, and I can’t understand why. 

If it’s about money ... I didn’t know you can put a price tag on a child’s life. They are taking away the awareness that would generate the research and the funds that would improve the childhood cancer survival rate. I know the hard way that the lack of awareness is what killed my son. No awareness leads to no funding ... and no cure. 

We can’t imagine how you felt when you saw the Empire State Building turn recently green for the 25th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ... but not for the kids who play with them.
It’s unbelievable. They can light it up for a movie, but not real life heroes like kids who are fighting cancer?

The public deserves a response. I don’t want this negativity. We have enough negativity in the world of childhood cancer. The pediatric cancer parents and advocates are very, very passionate, and we aren’t going to go away. The Empire State Building needs to do the right thing. It’s not that complicated.

What will it mean to you if you are successful?
It’s one more step in the right direction for the awareness that childhood cancer desperately needs. We have huge strides to make. New York City is my favorite city in the world, and this would be a beautiful, powerful symbol of hope for childhood cancer awareness. It would shine light on these brave kids. This movement is for the kids. It’s about my son and his friends. It’s for the babies, kids, teenagers, and young adults facing horrific diagnoses, surgeries, treatments. They deserve to have that spotlight.

I am in the battle every day of my life. I refuse to give up. I refuse to see this not change. There are amazingly brilliant doctors out there who need awareness and funds to help kids fighting for their lives.

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How can moms help you?
I have so much respect for moms; they are doing one of the toughest jobs in the world. There’s nothing that moms fight harder for than their kids. Put yourself in my shoes. Childhood cancer doesn’t discriminate. Please get behind this movement through social media, phone calls, media outreach.

During the month of September, moms can help by turning their towns gold. Schools, buses, local businesses, youth sports ... anywhere and everywhere. We want to bring this gold movement to every city and town in America.

The Empire State Building wrote on its Facebook page that it will not be swayed by social media campaigns. And you’re still undeterred?
Social media is a very powerful tool. The hashtag #EmpireGoGold has gone viral on Twitter. The more people the Empire State Building hears from, the better. How can the Empire State Building avoid a public outcry like this ... and for how long? It’s time to do the right thing.

What do you think of this mom's cause? Will you support her with a tweet or Facebook post?

Image via Maya Thompson

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