Sandburg honors late student with library memorial and Walk-A-Thon fundraiser for pediatric cancer research
By Samantha Bambino
In his 13 brief years spent on this earth, Mason Chandler Allen made quite the impact. Academically gifted, athletic and compassionate (not to mention a Marvel movie buff and Eagles fanatic), this Langhorne resident had all the markings of a young man who would excel in anything he put his mind to. Unfortunately, life has a cruel way of turning out how we least expect.
On March 11, 2017, Mason lost his two-year battle with osteosarcoma — the most common form of bone cancer — which he was diagnosed with at the age of 11. While no parent can experience greater pain than that of losing a child, Martin and Kamala Allen, along with their Bucks County community, are making sure their son’s memory isn’t forgotten anytime soon.
Last month, Mason was slated to graduate from Carl Sandburg Middle School in Levittown before making the transition to Neshaminy High School with the rest of his peers. In the midst of end-of-the-year excitement, friends, faculty and family dedicated an entire afternoon to ensuring his spirit is memorialized in the Sandburg halls for years to come.
Thanks to a generous gift made to the Mason Chandler Allen Memorial Foundation, which was co-founded by Martin and Kamala, “Mason’s Corner” was created in the shared Sandburg and Albert Schweitzer school library. According to Kamala, the library became a haven for Mason when he could no longer participate in physical education. Many hours were spent there reading, writing, and even launching a school newspaper. It was the perfect spot to honor his memory.
Following the dedication of “Mason’s Corner,” the Sandburg student council hosted a Walk-A-Thon, which raised $8,000 for pediatric cancer research. These efforts tie in seamlessly to the mission of the Mason Chandler Allen Memorial Foundation to promote awareness of and continue the fight against pediatric cancer.
The MCAMF was formed a mere month after Mason’s passing as, what seemed at the time, a desperate attempt to hold onto him in some way. His parents never imagined it would turn into the collaborative effort recognized today on local and national levels.
A key component of the foundation is helping other young people with the same condition as Mason through the Osteosarcoma College Scholarship, which is awarded to high school seniors with a prior diagnosis. Kamala said this scholarship is a reflection of Mason’s commitment to continuing his education throughout his demanding treatment, which involved months of chemotherapy and multiple surgeries.
The foundation’s initiatives also highlight Mason’s innate ability to always show a deep empathy for others, seeking out peers who were excluded or in need of a few kind words. To help continue his work, the MCAMF distributes three monetary Student Humanitarian Awards each year to students at Albert Schweitzer, Sandburg and Neshaminy who emulate those selfless qualities.
Both Kamala and Martin are thrilled and humbled over how their Bucks community latched onto their project in a single year, especially the local student body. Both Neshaminy and Pennsbury honored Mason at their respective Mini-THON events, wearing T-shirts emblazoned with his initials.
A number of Mason’s friends take part in MCAMF service projects, which include delivering care packages filled with simple yet sorely missed items such as toys and nail polish to young cancer patients at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.
In May, two of Mason’s closest friends, Blaize and Sean, spearheaded the first Kickoff for the Cure Flag Football Tournament, which was held at Sandburg. The youth teams were comprised of their peers, with the winner playing the championship game against the adult team led by Mason’s father. Mason’s friends came out victorious, with all event and T-shirt proceeds benefiting the foundation’s research fund.
“Twelve- and 13-year-olds do think about the bigger message,” Kamala said.
As Mason’s friends continue on through life, experiencing all high school, college and beyond have to offer, she understands her son’s memory will slowly fade to the back of their minds. Still, Kamala hopes one thing is never forgotten — the number of children still suffering as cancer continues to rear its ugly head.
“People move on,” she said. “How do we not let the issue?” ••
For more information on the Mason Chandler Allen Memorial Foundation, located at 92 S. Woodbourne Road, #120, Levittown, visit mcamf.org. Upcoming MCAMF events include the second annual STEPS Toward the Cure fundraising walk on Sept. 22 from 8 a.m. to noon at Carl Sandburg Middle School, 30 Harmony Road in Levittown. Registration information can be found online.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com