Volunteer Spotlight – Meet Rusty Nelson

Volunteer Spotlight - Rusty Nelson | Children's Cancer Association (CCA)

Our staff at the CCA office is always happy to see volunteers walk through the door, but one volunteer, in particular, has befriended just about everyone on the team, attended numerous events and embodies the true spirit of joy in all that he does. Rusty Nelson has been volunteering with the Children’s Cancer Association for the last six years and according to him, there’s no end in sight. We sat down with Rusty to ask him about his time with CCA.

How did you hear about CCA?

“I was looking to volunteer within the medical field around heart awareness because my family has a history of heart problems. I was reaching out to various nonprofits asking if they needed volunteers.

A good friend of mine, Dustin, who is currently a Chemo Pal Mentor, invited me to a meeting at CCA that following Thursday. It turned out to be an orientation night for prospective Chemo Pal Mentors. It only took about a minute into the orientation and I was hooked. Regina happened to be there that night and it didn’t take much to convince me. I was so excited and my enthusiasm hasn’t stopped since!”

What’s one of your favorite memories volunteering?

“While I was waiting for my background check, I continued to go to the Thursday night meetings at CCA’s office. At one point the Chemo Pal Specialists came up to me and asked if I was interested in being a Chemo Pal. I said no, but I was interested in volunteering. It was then they told me that these meetings were for potential Chemo Pals and I’d been going to every single one of them! That gave us all a good laugh!”

Tell us about your first volunteer project experience.

“When I first started volunteering the MyMusicRx program was where I spent most of my time. I would go to the hospital every Tuesday and sign kids up for the MyMusicRx website. My goal was to introduce them to MyMusicRx.org and get them situated on the website so they had access to free music and games.

I would also help with Karaoke one Saturday a month. Sometimes I had to sing to get them comfortable. I love to sing and dance, but I’m NOT good at either! No matter your musical ability, I always encouraged everyone to participate in the music.”

What was the first event that you attended?

“Valentine’s Day for CCA was my first event. The positive energy around Valentine’s Day is what really got me hooked. Getting to go to the FOX12 studio, seeing the anchors and the radio talents, all made for an exciting day. My first year, I stood outside in a pig costume and talked with the people who were dropping off their piggy banks. I had such a good time with it!”

Do you have other favorite events?

“Attending the Hero Gala and Children’s Pro-Am are highlights of my volunteer time but CCA Idol is one of my favorite events. I’ve been a judge of the contest for three years. This event is really cool because it is organized by a high school student. It’s awesome to see kids singing to raise money for other kids. As a volunteer and judge, I’m there to make them feel great about themselves and their music.”

Do you have advice for new volunteers?

“The great thing about CCA is that they have such a variety of volunteer options! Use that to your interest and you’ll really enjoy what there is to offer. Volunteer once a year, multiple times a year, you can tailor it to your needs. If you can’t donate money, donate time.”

What brings you joy?

“My two boys, Brock and Carter and my mom, but CCA is easily next in line. I also love the Seahawks, music, swimming, playing soccer, and shooting baskets with my boys. Brock and Carter also recently got me into hunting for Pokémon.”

Get Involved Today

A heartfelt thank you to Rusty from the CCA family for all that he does. If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering with CCA, we have a number of incredible events to participate in. Check out our upcoming events on our events page, or better yet, sign up to volunteer!