Bags of Fun

Delivering a backpack filled with joy to every childhood cancer patient in Indiana since 2009.

A Mission Born of a Hard-fought Battle

Diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma – a rare form of bone cancer – at the age of six, Tatum Parker endured thirteen rounds of chemotherapy and three major surgeries over the course of a year.

In July 2007, Tatum was pronounced cancer-free, which she remained for eighteen months until her cancer returned in November 2008.

Whereas her first battle with the disease affected Tatum’s right leg, this new formation was found in her right lung. Hence, another year of chemotherapy began.

Somewhere in the midst of over two-dozen radiation treatments, Tatum received a “Bag of Fun” from the Gabby Krause Foundation, an organization founded in memory of a fellow pediatric cancer patient who had fought brain cancer for more than 19 months before succumbing to her illness in September 2004.

Tatum’s new backpack was filled toys, games and other activities that helped to ease her mind and pass the time before, during and after her various treatment sessions.

It was a surprise that would energize Tatum to keep fighting until September 15, 2009, when she was once again pronounced cancer-free. And although she’s remained that way ever since, that hasn’t stopped Tatum from providing other young cancer patients with the same gift she received during treatment.

Working with the Gabby Krause Foundation, Tatum Parker and her family created Tatum’s Bags of Fun to deliver every child cancer patient in the state of Indiana with their own “Bag of Fun.”

Since then, Tatum’s has delivered entertainment and encouragement to over 1,900 children, reaching every pediatric cancer patient in Indiana since 2009.

Building the Cause

Element Three got involved with Tatum’s Bags of Fun in 2014 for the purpose of lending marketing support that would allow the organization to develop a stronger brand and elicit a greater number of financial contributions.

A true “family-run” organization, Tatum’s operates without a full-time staff, and 100% of funds raised go directly toward the purchase of backpacks and their contents. It’s just Tatum and her parents, Jayson and Kendra.

With that in mind, E3 chose to start at the beginning, treating Tatum’s Bags of Fun to the same brand discovery and development process the agency’s clients enjoy, which resulted in a clearly defined one-page business plan.

Setting the Stage

Next, it was time to focus on the non-profit’s biggest fundraising event, Tatum’s White Party. Taking place at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis, Tatum’s White Party is an annual gala where hundreds of guests wear white to signify purity from cancer.

After completely rebranding the event for 2014, attendance has grown each year, while Element Three’s involvement has expanded to include pre-show deliverables. Everything from email templates and landing-page builds to event invitations and signage.

E3’s Karen Seketa, who has been involved with Tatum’s for the past three years, is still amazed by what Tatum and her family have been able to accomplish.

“With what she’s been through, to see this young girl grow into a full-fledged teenager, tell her story and create such a positive impact on others has been incredible.”

Karen isn’t the only one to feel a sense of awe when confronted by all that Tatum has accomplished, nor is she the only one at Element who has gotten involved with her cause. All-in-all, more than a dozen E3’ers have lent their talents to Tatum’s Bags of Fun.

Now 16-years-old, Tatum shares her story at schools and events throughout Indiana while continuing to deliver backpacks, acting as a beacon of hope for hundreds of children’s cancer patients every single year.

“Play is important medicine for a child with cancer. It changes their outlook, puts a smile on their face and lets them feel like a kid again.”