Discovering that a loved one has cancer makes some people feel powerless, but for these enterprising kids, the devastating news was a call to action.
Brothers Harry and Heath Bennett were only 11 and 7 years old when their friend Timmy was diagnosed with stage 1 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. “Heath and I were shocked and sad,” recalls Harry, who is now 13. “We knew right away that we wanted to do something to help him feel better.”
Learning that dry skin and chapped lips are common side effects of chemotherapy revealed their calling: creating a lip balm that was gentle enough for cancer patients to use. And so Bennett Brothers Balm was born.
Made by hand in the Bennett family kitchen, the brothers’ all-natural vegan lip balm took time to perfect. “We probably made 10 or more batches before we came up with a recipe that we were happy with,” the boys recall. Now, the brothers create a line of products, including body butter, eye balm, and “Tummy Troubles,” a belly balm designed to soothe upset stomachs, nausea, and anxiety.
The Bennett brothers sell their skincare products in their Etsy store and at craft fairs, 5Ks, corporate events, and cancer fundraisers. Their profits support cancer research and patient care, including the work of Dr. Amy Billett, Timmy’s doctor and a pediatric Hodgkin’s researcher at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Harry and Heath are quick to point out the inequities in research funding. “Only 4% of federal government funding for cancer research goes to childhood cancers,” says Harry. “We believe that children deserve more than 4% and we know that the people who buy our products feel that way, too!”
Harry and Heath already have a number of achievements under their belts. They’ve learned how to develop a product, run a business, manage money, and interact with customers. They’ve both learned they have a knack for public speaking. They have also earned nine service awards and honors, including the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, which recognizes young leaders across North America who “best demonstrate heroic character qualities like courage, compassion, and perseverance, and who are making a significant, positive impact on the world.”
The poise and confidence with which these kids speak leaves no doubt that they will go far in life. They have lofty career aspirations: Harry wants to become a marine biologist one day, and Heath hopes to be a cancer researcher.
For now, though, the Bennett brothers are focused on their business, raising money to support pediatric cancer research, and bringing awareness to the bravery of kids who are fighting cancer. To date, they have donated $28,177 to cancer research, with over $5,000 of that going specifically to pediatric blood cancer research at Dana-Farber. Someday, Harry and Heath hope to see Bennett Brothers Balm on the shelves at Whole Foods.
For other aspiring activists, Harry and Heath’s advice is simple: “You are never too young to make a difference, and even something small can have a big, lasting impact. Volunteering in your community is so important, and there are so many ways that you can give back! Talk to an adult about your interests and passions, choose a cause that means something to you, start with something simple and easy, and come up with a plan of action together!”
“Oh, and believe in yourself and never give up!”