National Pinky Swear Day: A Promise to Help Kids with Cancer

2 min read
Aug 30, 2023 4:10:02 PM


EDINA, MINN – [December 13, 2021] – 19 years ago, a young boy named Mitch Chepokas made a life-changing promise that would live on for years to come. When Mitch was nine years old, he gave his entire life savings to the families on the pediatric oncology floor where he was also being treated. The nine-year-old gave $6,000 to families who couldn’t afford holiday gifts for their child battling cancer; every penny they had went to keeping their child alive. Mitch’s gift to these families was so much more than money stuffed into orange envelopes. Mitch’s gift was one of hope and holiday cheer, even as he and his family suffered the same uncertainties.

Mitch would pass away the next spring, osteosarcoma – a bone cancer – taking over his body.

But before his passing, Mitch made a promise with his father, Steve. Mitch, knowing he wouldn’t live long enough to see another holiday season, made his father promise him that he would continue supporting families who had a child with cancer. The pinky swear pact he made with his father would lead Steve to create a lasting legacy through Pinky Swear Foundation.

That initial $6,000 split between families on the childhood cancer floor of the hospital in 2003 has now become more than $1,000,000 each year going to families facing a childhood cancer diagnosis across the United States. Pinky Swear Foundation carries on Mitch’s promise with his father by providing rent, mortgage, car and grocery payments to families each month. Even the occasional gas or coffee gift card is enough to take some weight off a family in need; and those gifts are still delivered in orange envelopes, just like the ones Mitch handed out nearly 20 years ago, and they’re still signed “XOXO, Mitchell.”

“We have the opportunity to watch Mitch’s legacy shine brighter each year, and it’s even more impactful and heartwarming during the holiday season,” Erica Campbell, Pinky Swear Foundation’s executive director said. “In 2020, we gave out a million dollars in funding directly to families, and we’re so honored and proud to be able to say, with your help, we will do it again this year.”

Families helped by gracious donations to Pinky Swear Foundation receive cards each year on National Pinky Swear Day, December 11, and many send back photos of their child, some still in their battle with cancer, smiling and holding a card from someone just wishing them the best. Mitch and his father’s promise continues to support these families financially and emotionally.

Learn more about Pinky Swear Foundation and how you can help keep the promise at Pinky Swear Foundation

Founded in 2003, Pinky Swear Foundation is a national 501c(3) nonprofit headquartered in Edina, MN passionately committed to helping children with cancer and their families with financial and emotional assistance. Pinky Swear Foundation activities include a variety of community engagement and fundraising events around the nation, raising more than $20 million to-date. To learn more, visit

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