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Local 19-year-old cancer survivor creates nonprofit

Posted at 8:35 AM, Sep 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-12 11:35:23-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — In this week’s “Kern’s Kindness," we’re meeting a Bakersfield teenager who created a nonprofit with a very important cause.

Diagnosed with leukemia at age ten, Julian Castaneda didn’t have a typical childhood. He went through three and a half years of treatment and was in remission for three years after that before being diagnosed again at age 16.

“It’s really hard, you know, being a child and going through cancer. You really don’t know what’s happening. You’re just going through all these procedures and treatments and going in and out of the hospital. So going through cancer as a child is really hard and it’s devastating," said Julian.

Julian is now cancer-free, but he hasn’t forgotten the disease’s impact on him and his family. He wants to help children going through the same thing.

“During my treatment, I realized how patients didn’t always have the support of families and friends at all times in the hospital. That made me want to just start a foundation to give back to children in the hospital," said Julian.

And he did. Julian created the nonprofit Bags Of Love Foundation two years ago.

“It’s really exciting. It’s a lot of learning but it’s really a nice experience to be able to give back and provide hope for these children in hospitals," he said.

Bags Of Love creates care packages and holds fundraisers like their “Glow For A Cure” glow-in-the-dark dance. And despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Julian said the nonprofit is still doing what they can to support children undergoing cancer treatment in Kern County.

“Our events are all virtual right now but we’re still able to continue our fundraising efforts and plan to give out these care packages as soon as we’re able to," he said.

Julian said he wants Bags Of Love to provide hope and positivity, something he appreciated while going through his own treatment.

“I want them to know that they’re not alone. I want them to know that someone has been through what they’ve been through at the moment and there’s always going to be people there to support them no matter what," said Julian.

If you’d like to donate or participate in upcoming Bags Of Love events, visit their website.

We’re always looking for the next person to feature in Kern’s Kindness. If you have someone in mind, email kernskindness@kero.com