Silver Knight Feature: Gabriel Gonzalez

Gonzalez+delivers+care+packages+to+patients+at+Miami+Children%27s+Hospital

Gonzalez delivers care packages to patients at Miami Children's Hospital

Desiree Pico, Co-Editor in Chief

Hoping for his chance at being recognized as a Silver Knight scholar is senior Gabriel Gonzalez. He was nominated for the General Scholarship category with a project he began after recognizing a disparity in the community: a lack of services for children with cancer. Gonzalez was first exposed to the American Cancer Society five years ago, and in his time there, he has “[become] familiar with the services that they provided, and realized that although there existed many services for people with cancer, not as many existed to help children specifically.” He proceeded to research ways to address this problem and decided on making care packages.

In May 2016, Gonzalez founded a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization called Heartening Parents and Children with Cancer (HPACC) to accomplish this aim. This organization runs collection drives at local schools in Miami-Dade County for items such as toys, books, games, and toiletries, which will later be assembled into care packages. The care packages are then delivered to pediatric oncology patients and their parents. To date, Gonzalez has succeeded in collecting $1200 in monetary donations and 700 packages. 

Gonzalez after finishing assembling the care packages

The creation and management of this organization requires a heavy amount of time investment and overcoming of obstacles. For Gonzalez, the most difficult aspect of this endeavor was figuring out how to best set up his project and set everything into motion. Gonzalez had to communicate with multiple local hospitals as well as several child-life specialists and donation coordinators to establish a rapport with them, as they would become the contacts who Gonzalez would deliver the packages to. “It was especially challenging because I had never undertaken any project of this magnitude before,” he said.

All of the dedication that goes into this project has already begun to pay off. Gonzalez said, “I was humbled by the overwhelmingly positive reception of the care packages from the children and families.” He was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to deliver some of the care packages in person, which he found to be “humbling” and “rewarding” after getting to see firsthand the impact his contributions had made. He said, “I find it especially rewarding because I was able to positively impact so many lives,” and strives to continue to do so in the future.