Frequently Asked Questions


Children’s Cancer Connection serves children diagnosed, treated or living in Iowa, as well as their families. CCC gets the majority of its referrals from Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines and the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City. However, many of the children are referred to CCC through friends and family members already familiar with the organization. CCC currently offers its services to 800 families throughout the state of Iowa.

We are a statewide 501(c)3, nonprofit organization located in Johnston, Iowa. CCC does not have any national affiliations, nor does it receive federal or state funding. The organization hosts special events throughout the year to raise funds, and CCC relies on contributions from corporations, foundations and individuals to support the important programs and services we offer. Individuals may donate through employers’ charitable giving programs by recognizing Children’s Cancer Connection as a “donor choice.” If interested in becoming an event sponsor, please email the CCC Development Team or call 515-243-6239.

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, CCC is able to provide programs at no cost to families.

Yes, absolutely. CCC supports the entire family through the entire journey. CCC recognizes the importance of staying connected to others on or off treatment, regardless of treatment outcome.

Yes. Background checks are conducted on all new employees. We also conduct background checks on individuals who signs up to volunteer for a Children’s Cancer Connection event or program. These background checks are completed annually for both new and returning volunteers, and files are kept from previous years.

CCC utilizes VeriFirst Background Screening, LLC, a consumer-reporting agency which provides Consumer Reports and Investigative Consumer Reports. VeriFirst is recommended by the COCA-I organization, which helps ensure CCC is following the best practices to maintain Gold Ribbon Accreditation.

When a background check is returned, the appropriate CCC staff members, including the CEO, view the report to see if any flags appear. Any criminal history involving a crime with children results in automatic denial of the volunteer or employment application.

John Cornish’s little brother, Danny, was five years old when he lost his battle with cancer in 1987. John said, “Cancer doesn’t just hurt the person with the disease, it hurts the whole family.” Before he died, Danny painted a picture of a bright rainbow surrounded by sunlight with a heart at its center. He said it was for all his family and friends who brought sunshine, rainbows and love to him during his illness. To this day, Danny’s colorful design signifies the philosophy of Camp Heart Connection.

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Summer Camps

Camp Heart Connection’s Oncology Camp, for Children’s Cancer Connection children who are on or off treatment, is a true summer camp experience, with activities including rock wall-climbing, arts and crafts, horseback-riding, and more. A week of summer camp is something every child should be able to experience. Oncology Camp allows for children who are on or off treatment to attend a week full of typical summer camp activities and so much more. Worried that your child won’t fit in? Campers who have attended before, demonstrate that all campers understand the childhood cancer journey. In fact, survivors are often inspiration for kids who are newly diagnosed. Our staff is trained to be sensitive and supportive to all campers, and medical professionals are on site 24/7 to meet medical needs. Best of all, Oncology Camp is free to attend. Once a camper comes to camp, whether for one week or their entire childhood, they will forever be part of the Camp Heart Connection family.

Camp Heart Connection’s Sibling Camp, for Children’s Cancer Connection children who have a sibling with cancer no matter the treatment outcome, is a true summer camp experience, with activities including rock wall-climbing, arts and crafts, horseback-riding and more. Siblings are often not the center of attention when it comes to families affected by childhood cancer, but they can still carry the emotional scars of a cancer journey. Sibling Camp allows for siblings to experience a week they can call their own. It’s a place where they can reconcile their emotions about nearly losing a sibling and/or meet others who’ve lost a sister or brother to cancer. No matter the treatment outcome of their sibling, this week is theirs, and it’s free to attend. Once a camper comes to camp, whether for one week or their entire childhood, they will forever be part of the Camp Heart Connection family.

Camp Heart Connection Oncology and Sibling Camps are provided for campers who fall within the ages of 5 to 18 (or are high school students).

Camp Heart Connection programs are provided completely free of cost to Children’s Cancer Connection families thanks to generous donor support!

Camp Heart Connection’s Oncology and Sibling Camps are meant to be the best weeks of the year for your child(ren) AND for you. CCC aims to provide a magical week for the campers and a stress-free week for parents/guardians. Thus, we ensure that all staff, volunteer and paid, have met the COCA-I Gold Ribbon Standards prior to attending camp. All Camp Heart Connection volunteer staff are required to pass a criminal background check, interview with Children’s Cancer Connection staff and complete an annual volunteer staff training. This is mandatory for all six Camp Heart Connection camping programs. In addition, all Camp Heart Connection volunteer staff attending Oncology and Sibling Camp are required to attend one day early for additional on-site medical training. There is 24-hour, on-site volunteer medical staff trained to meet your child’s needs. All volunteer medical staff are required to pass a criminal background check and provide proof of licensure. Rest assured that your children are in safe hands! Visit the Des Moines YMCA Camp website for more information, as that is where camps are hosted.

The dates for 2024 Camp Heart Connection summer camps will be:

  • Oncology Camp, June 9-15
  • Sibling Camp, June 30-July 6

The shift of Sibling Camp from mid-August to earlier in the summer comes following years of staffing challenges for the highly attended camp and an expectation of even more growth. As many volunteer camp staff members are also college students and are moving into their residences and/or unavailable, it has become increasingly difficult to recruit sufficient volunteer numbers in August. This was the case even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As CCC leadership expects camper numbers to grow in 2024 and beyond, organization leaders made this decision in an effort to make the Camp Heart Connection experience as safe and enjoyable as possible for both campers and volunteers. Family and volunteer survey feedback supported this date shift. The June 30-July 6 camp week is the only alternative week currently available at the Des Moines Y Camp.

Questions? Please email the Camp Team

Registration for Oncology and Sibling Camps will open in February.

Questions? No problem! Email the Camp Team.

Upon registration, you should receive a confirmation email from to the email address with which you registered. Be sure to check your spam folder for this confirmation email and mark as a safe sender. In this email you will be provided with any and all additional information you will need prior to having your child(ren) join us at camp!

Volunteer applications for Oncology and Sibling Camps are open now for 2024 camps. Apply!

Questions? No problem! Email the Camp Team.

Children’s Cancer Connection provides Incidental Medical Malpractice Coverage for volunteer medical professionals (paramedics, emergency medical technicians, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses or nursing assistants) who participate in any or all CCC programs and events. This coverage is designed to protect you in the event that a patient is injured during the course of receiving medical treatment. Learn more.

Jeff and Deb Hansen Home for Hope

While Children’s Cancer Connection serves families throughout Iowa, the office and programs spaces are located at the Jeff and Deb Hansen Home for Hope at 5701 Greendale Road, Johnston, IA 50131.

  • Accessibility for all with a fully ADA-compliant facility
  • Centrally located in Iowa and easy to find right off of I-80
  • Family-friendly neighborhood with nearby amenities, including parks, restaurants, grocery stores and a ChildServe campus
  • Ample parking spaces
  • Plenty of space for indoor and outdoor programs and activities
  • Clearly identified spaces and entrances for programs and offices
  • Room for growth and expansion of programs
  • Structurally it is a newer, more energy-efficient facility, which is more cost-effective to manage. This means more of our funding goes directly toward programs.
  • Addition of the Variety Star Playground, Sport Court and Gold Ribbon Walkway

Behind the Jeff and Deb Hansen Home for Hope, you will find the Variety Star Playground and a sport court. The inclusive Variety Star Playground features a merry-go-all, an accessible forward-facing spin wheel, an arch swing, a multi-user swing, music panels, an overhead climber, slides and more. A poured-in-place rubber surfacing eases access for all users. A sport court with a basketball hoop (bring your own ball) is located next to the playground. Now all CCC visitors can enjoy outdoor activity and play with friends just steps from the building, regardless of health status or mobility levels.

The Variety Star Playground is open to the public when not being used for CCC programs. The daily hours are 9 a.m. to sunset. Please visit our calendar to see when programs may make the playground unavailable. 

On Oct. 12, 2023, the Gold Ribbon Walkway was dedicated. There are currently 230 pavers in walkway which bear the names of CCC children who lost their lives to cancer since the organization began in 1988. Family members can visit their loved one’s gold-hued paver at any time. We must never forget the cancer warriors who were taken too soon. Pavers will be engraved each August with the names of any future CCC children who pass away from cancer.