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Local Leaders Raise Awareness for Adolescents & Young Adults (AYAs) with Cancer

April 4, 2023

A local nonprofit that supports adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer, 13thirty Cancer Connect, is partnering with Monroe County and the City of Rochester, along with several local businesses and organizations to recognize April as AYA Cancer Awareness Month.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Rochester Mayor Malik D. Evans joined Bob Duffy, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce CEO & President, Jamie Romeo, Monroe County Clerk, and Lauren Spiker, Founder and Executive Director, 13thirty Cancer Connect, to kick off the month-long initiative earlier today at the Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport. During the event, Monroe County and the City of Rochester shared proclamations deeming April AYA Month in the region, and a lineup of support initiatives and month-long events were noted by Spiker.

“13thirty understands that adolescents and young adults fighting cancer require more than medicine and treatment – they require socializing with other AYAs, wellness programs, peer support groups, music, art and more,” said Monroe County Executive Adam J. Bello. “The support system they’ve built to fill the gaps in care for AYAs living with cancer is second to none, and I’m proud to proclaim April as AYA Cancer Awareness Month.”

Throughout the week, many city and county buildings, including the Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport, Rochester General Hospital, and Strong Memorial Hospital, will be lit with green and blue lights in honor of the 90,000 teens and young adults diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States.

Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy said, "Thanks to 13thirty Cancer Connect, our community’s future business leaders are emerging from their cancer experience stronger and more confident, which will contribute to the vitality and strength of our region. They are providing teens and young adults with cancer with opportunities to develop healthy habits during and after treatment, helping to reduce the burden of healthcare in our community. Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce is proud to offer the support of the Greater Rochester business community and looks forward to developing new partnerships that will help advance the mission of 13thirty Cancer Connect.”

Several local businesses will also conduct fundraising and awareness events to help support the wide range of free peer support programs offered by 13thirty Cancer Connect at their Rochester and Syracuse centers.

“Rochester is proud to have 13thirty Cancer Connect as a resource for teens and young adults living with cancer,” said Rochester Mayor Malik D. Evans. “There is healing power in connection, compassion, and emotional safety, which 13thirty provides to address the unique needs of young people facing cancer. 13thirty is an investment that is paying dividends, because we know that those who are treated with empathy and kindness today can become the compassionate leaders of tomorrow.”

The organization’s mission to help adolescents and young adults with cancer live their very best lives is served through a variety of wellness, expressive arts, and social programs all designed to meet the unique challenges facing this underserved and long unrecognized group of cancer patients.

“Programs like ours did not exist when my daughter, Melissa, was sick,” said Spiker. “For over 20 years now, I have tried my best to honor the promise I made to Melissa before she died – to make a difference, to make things better.”

AYA Month partners include: Al Sigl Community of Agencies, American Red Cross, BeeKind Syracuse, Breast Cancer Confidence, Buckingham Properties, Comedy @ the Carlson, Edge Color Graphics, Figgy Studio & Shop, Game Night Rochester, Head to the Roots, Heroes Brewing Company, Iron Tug Brewing, Perinton Pizza Emporium, Radio Social, The Reformery, ROC City Paupers, ROC Strong Club, Statement Boutique, Three Heads Brewing, Upstate Bottle Return, Wesley Clark & Peshkin, Winter Swan Coffee, Yoga +, and Zumba.

For a full list of participating businesses and what they are doing to make a difference for local teens and young adults with cancer in April, please visit and follow 13thirty Cancer Connect on social media.

About 13thirty Cancer Connect

13thirty Cancer Connect was established in 2001 by Lauren Spiker after the death of her 19-year-old daughter, Melissa, in 2000. Started as a grass-roots effort, 13thirty Cancer Connect is now an internationally known and respected leader in the field of adolescent and young adult cancer. The organization has centers in Rochester and Syracuse, and serves adolescents and young adults throughout Upstate New York.


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