Watch CBS News

KD Sunday Spotlight: Carson's Hope keeps the spirit alive and helps those battling pediatric cancer

KD Sunday Spotlight: Carson's Hope
KD Sunday Spotlight: Carson's Hope 04:21

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Inside the Rudick household, there are reminders of Jim and Carlie's first-born son, Carson. Sketches, hang on the wall; Photos, cover the mantelpiece; and a cross with train tracks is in the living room because Carson loved trains. 

Carson died from brain cancer, at five years old.

He was only 3-and-a-half when he was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma.

"You know what chemo meds are, you know what sizes needles he needs for his power port, you start to know these things and you wish you never had to know those, especially when it comes to your child," Carlie said.

She said it started when doctors found an abscess in his throat, so, they went to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Worry came quickly, but Carlie remembered every detail.

"Next thing you know it was a whirlwind of events, doctors, nurses, people everywhere," said Carlie, "your (her child's) innocence is gone."

Carson went through countless brain surgeries, chemo, and radiation, but it ultimately did not work. Then Carson grew his angel wings, on July 18, 2010.

He would've turned 19 this year, but missed milestones are filled with memories of who Carson was.

As Carlie remembers her son, she told us "There are a lot, everything, I mean he was a happy kid, strong kid, wise beyond his years for sure."

He's forever in their hearts, but it doesn't make the loss easier, Carlie said she keeps a saying Carson used to tell her, in her mind, "he used to say that makes my heart proud."

So, his family is making him proud by helping thousands of other families with Carson's Hope non-profit. At the Children's Hospital, Carson's Hope pays for parking for day visits in the clinics.  

"It's one less thing for people to worry about when they go to the hospital, to have to pay for something as simple as parking," said Carlie.

With countless appointments for many cancer patients it can total $30,000 worth of parking payments and Carson's Hope helps hundreds of more pediatric cancer patients, from New York to California, with direct donations. 

"We helped pay for mortgages, car payments, things like that, so, they don't have to stress they can focus on their kid," she said.

Focusing on the children, certainly makes Carson's heart proud. 

"I'm happy that we can send donations. I wish it was under a different circumstance. But I also wish we were sending cures in the mail instead of money, and donations. Cause that's what we need," said Carlie.

Without a cure, it's Pittsburghers and Carson's Hope collaborating to help one another.  

"The whole community, they help us raise money to do this, we couldn't do any of this without them," said Carlie.

In the Rudick household, Carson is everywhere with butterflies, Superman shirts, and rainbows, but most importantly his work continues impacting childhood cancer patient's families, for generations to come.

"If anything like this would ever come up, they can reach out to a charity like ours, and they would be aware that there are people out there who help," she said. "There are people willing to help make a difference."

One of their big fundraisers the Night at the Races took place last night. The next fundraising event for Carson's Hope is a Fishing Derby set for May 5th, Cinco De Mayo. It'll be at the municipal pond, in Harrison City where Carson and his dad used to go fishing. 

There will be free food, shirts, and fun prizes and of course, the money goes to Carson's Hope charity, which benefits pediatric cancer patients.

To register or donate to Carson's Hope, you can do so on their website at this link

If you would like to see an organization highlighted in KDKA's Sunday Spotlight segment, send Megan Shinn an email at!

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.