Pay It Forward: Be the Rainbow Foundation

The Reynolds family is the pot of gold waiting at the end of the rainbow for families who are enduring pediatric cancer. Photo by Christy Hodgson.

When you meet Charlotte Reynolds, you are greeted with a delightful blend of sweetness and enthusiasm, with just a hint of spunk. One would never know that this craft loving 10-year-old is a TWO-TIME stage IV neuroblastoma pediatric cancer survivor!

In 2016, the Reynolds family received the news no parent ever wants to hear: Your child has cancer. Incredible organizations, families, and friends embraced the family with compassion, providing hope when they needed it most.

Contributed photo.

Throughout Charlotte’s treatment, the Reynoldses observed that other patients’ families often had unmet needs. They dreamed that one day they could provide others with things they were blessed to have, from basics like caregiver meals, bill assistance, and childcare, to wagons, air mattresses (in lieu of sleeping in a hospital chair), or funds toward an Uber for treatment-related travel.

As they navigated through the difficult experience with Charlotte, they focused on their goal: One day, Charlotte would recover completely, and the family could be a rainbow in another family’s darkest time.

After a year and a half of treatment plus a year of clinical trial, Charlotte kicked cancer to the curb. Family, friends, nurses, and doctors cheered her down the hallways of Duke Hospital when she celebrated her big win.

Just nine months later, a routine scan led to the tragic news that Charlotte had relapsed only weeks before she started kindergarten. The family’s focus shifted back to Charlotte’s treatment, although giving others hope was still on their minds. Once again, Charlotte took cancer by storm and showed she is not to be reckoned with! She finished treatment in 2021, and her scans have been clear since.

“This journey changed us for the better. I don’t think I ever would have realized having a child with cancer would do anything besides take and hurt and create pain and fear, but it did. It created an opportunity to turn that into hope and love and comfort for others. They could have kept their blessing to themselves, but it felt we were meant to share them, so we did.” Contributed photo.

“After Charlotte conquered cancer a second time, we knew the time was right to start the nonprofit. After much thought on what to call it, we decided upon Be The Rainbow. Rainbows kept resounding in my mind primarily because rainbows were a huge sign of hope and love, and comfort to our family throughout all the treatment. We would get rainbows at the most miraculous moments where we felt the presence of God; we would get rainbows sent to us from friends and family from all over when we needed them. And then it came to us: Be The Rainbow Foundation was formed,” said Jennifer Reynolds, Charlotte’s mother.

Be The Rainbow set out to aid those in need in 2022 and has been spreading love and hope ever since. Their vision changes based on the needs of the families they work with, but the overarching mission is to refocus partnerships with families and support organizations to individualize support, filling in gaps of assistance during treatment, recovery, and beyond.

“From the start of operation in 2022, every assistance we have given has felt like a gigantic achievement — whether it’s collaborating with hospital social services, family support organizations, and directly with many families to help provide financial assistance, specialty gifts, and hope. It brings so much meaning to the hardships they’ve gone through, and we get to do something special for another family.”

Charlotte, now in fourth grade, is thriving — enjoying time with friends and trying out new activities like ninja courses. She is still being monitored by scans and will then transition to annual checkups for survivorship care to monitor any potential long-term side effects from her treatment. For the Renyolds family, celebrating her good health means bringing hope and color to the lives of others as they walk a hard, familiar road.

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