Kori Hines, '19

Kori Hines sits on a table in a meeting room in Arrupe.

Senior Kori Hines’ passion for helping others expands beyond the campus of Rockhurst. After being diagnosed with a blood cancer as an early teen, Hines saw a need to help the families of those diagnosed in a unique way. Read her interview below to find out more.


Q: What got you into the English/communication track and what do you want to do with that?

A: My goal is to get my doctorate in something. I want to be a college professor eventually. I started as a nursing major for three semesters, and quickly decided that was not for me. I’ve always really enjoyed English and I’ve been great at writing and speaking and I had a lot of experience with doing that with AP classes in high school and I’ve always been really successful with doing that in college. I felt like that was the right track for me and it has been ever since I switched. It just felt right. With women’s studies, I think it’s interesting to look at the history of women and how that’s playing out in everything that’s going on today. Communication is just an additional asset to all of that.

Q: Could you share a little bit about your diagnosis and how that journey was for you?

A: When I was 13, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, which is a blood cancer. It was definitely shocking. I was not expecting that. Luckily, since we’re from Kansas City, we have a great program at Children’s Mercy Hospital, great doctors and team there. It was quite a journey, taking up most of 2011. I was literally living in the hospital for a month at a time, and then being home for a couple of weeks and then coming back to the hospital. I was diagnosed on Jan. 6, 2011 and I was treated through May of 2011, at which point I was told I was in remission. I had that whole summer of going to camp and doing all kinds of fun things, going to Chicago. Then in August, the weekend before I was supposed to start my freshman year of high school, they called my family and were like, “just kidding, you’re relapsed. Your cancer is back.” Instead of going to school, I went back to the hospital. I had radiation for the first time, more chemotherapy, and then I received a stem cell transplant by way of umbilical cord blood. Which, luckily for me — it doesn’t always work — but for me it took, and I was in remission after that.

Q: What summer camp did you attend?

A: I went to camps when I was younger, but the one that stuck out to me the most is called “The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp” and it was started by Paul Newman a little over 30 years ago. It’s in Connecticut, and it’s specifically for children with cancers and other life-threatening illnesses to come for a week and get to do all these different things that they probably wouldn’t have been able to do because they were in the hospital. For some kids there, it’s their first time sleeping away from home, because their parents have had such a strong hold on them. So, being among other kids with bald heads, who had lived in the hospital, it was so enlightening to be in that environment, which is why I worked there the past two summers because I was just so inspired by it when I was a kid that I was like, “I have to go back and do for those kids what those adults did for me.”

Q: What is your nonprofit?

A: It’s called The Kori Cares Foundation. It is a 501©(3) that my mom and I started in 2012. The purpose is to have care packages created and delivered to the parents and caregivers of children at Children’s Mercy Hospital diagnosed with cancer. I went to the hospital and was diagnosed that day and then we were there at the hospital for a month after that. My parents didn’t want to leave my side and so they were putting me first. We recognized this need in the hospital that these parents need something to have of their own, little toiletries or something so that they do not have to worry about needing to leave and get to the store as soon as they can to get a toothbrush or something like that. The care packages were just a symbol of hey, we know you’re going through this, we’ve been there, it will be OK. We started that when I was in high school.

Q: What was the process of getting a nonprofit started?

A: My mom did a lot of the background work because I was a minor. It was really just going and talking to a law firm and getting them to certify us as a 501©(3). Which is really just like paperwork and explaining what it is and having a lawyer be willing to do it for free. It wasn’t super complicated, I don’t think.

Q: How have you received support for this?

A: Well, when we reached out to Children’s Mercy they were very excited about it and super receptive to the idea and we still deliver care packages as often as they need, which is usually every two or three months. Obviously the people in me and my family’s lives saw the things that we went through and they were so supportive all the way through with sending letters and cards. We were like, “Hey, would you be willing to support this cause and helping other kids?” Of course people were like, “absolutely, I’d be more than willing to donate.” People donate monetarily and the toiletries they get from hotel rooms, you know, like the little conditioners and stuff like that. We take all of that stuff too because people usually get that and then toss it in the trash or it sits in a cabinet somewhere, but we get it and we actually use it. People are really supportive of that.

Q: What are some future plans for your nonprofit?

A: I’m a student right now, so I’m really busy with school. My goal, when I graduate and have more time, is to have the nonprofit reach out to other hospitals, and even into other units in Children’s Mercy. Although cancer is obviously in my history, there are many other units of the hospital that have parents and caregivers who are going through a lot, and could really use something like this. Eventually that’s what we’d like to branch out to — not only other units in that hospital, but other hospitals in the region if possible.

Q: What would you tell your younger self now?

A: I would say, it’ll be OK, but the struggle is not over yet. For example, right now I’m still dealing with late effects from the treatments that I’ve had. I would tell myself “You’re going to be OK, you’ll get through it, you’re strong enough, but just remember the  journey still continues and never really ends. You’ll be better for it in the end.”