Walk With Sally provides support to children of family members affected by cancer

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- Millions of dollars a year are allocated towards advancing cancer research. However, a nonprofit organization in El Segundo, California has a mission to focus on the children who don't have cancer, but are affected nonetheless. This was the case for Matthew Milan.

"My mother actually, she was diagnosed with breast cancer," Milan said. "And from there she had passed on. After that I felt like I was alone and I was trying to deal with it on my own."

Milan's mother passed away when he was in elementary school. His school counselor noticed his struggle and recommended Walk With Sally, a free mentoring program that provides services and support to children of parents, guardians or siblings who have cancer or have succumbed to cancer.

"When cancer hits the family often times what you find is the child gets lost in the shuffle," Nicholas Arquette, founder of Walk With Sally said. "And in the end, we want to shine a light back onto the child's life."

Arquette's mother, Sally, had also succumbed to cancer when he was a young boy, which inspired him to start up this organization.

In order to connect with Walk With Sally, it's as simple as visiting the website. But Arquette's hope is that Walk With Sally has a relationship with every school district, like how it happened for Milan in Inglewood.

"Working with some of these schools we've been able to identify children and been able to help them go through the cancer journey," Arquette said.

Walk With Sally relies on volunteering mentors, like Ed Vukmirovich. After Vukmirovich's dad passed away from cancer, he felt compelled to give back to his community, which led him to becoming Milan's mentor.

"It's been extremely eye opening," said Vukmirovich. "And for someone who's decades younger than I am, I've learned a lot about myself."

The mentor-mentee relationship within Walk With Sally can vary, but for Vukmirovich and Milan, they've spent time hiking, surfing and even going to motocross races. However, their relationship started at the local Inglewood batting cages.

"Ed's really just always been there for me as a father role-model. he's always there to help me and I'm appreciative of that," Milan said.

"I don't know if I always give him the best advice, but yea," Vukmirovich joked.

Now, five years after beginning this journey, Milan is heading off to college, but they're both confident that they'll keep in touch.

"It's become more of a friendship where we feel like family," Vukmirovich said. "This organization does a phenomenal job at letting people know, letting children know that they're not alone."

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