Segment 1

Slideshow — background music only

Segment 2

Katie: Hi everyone! I’m Katie

Sean: And I’m Sean and we’re going to be your emcees for the night!

Katie: Tell a little about yourself (unscripted)

Sean: Tell a little about yourself (unscripted)

Katie: As you all know, Connecting Champions is celebrating its 10th birthday and we’re so excited to share this evening and all the smiles with you. So let’s get right to it! On the count of three, we’re all going to open our toast boxes together. 1, 2, 3… OPEN!

Segment 3

Sean: Now we’re going to invite the man behind all of this, the founder and Executive Director of Connecting Champions, Sidney Kushner, to lead us in a toast!

Sidney: all you!

Sidney: Shares his story and leads us in a toast (unscripted)

Segment 4

Video — background music only

Segment 5

Katie: Connecting Champions has helped hundreds of kids & young adults over the last ten years and I was thinking it could be fun to see what those kids are up to now. What do you think, Sean?

Sean: That’s a great idea Katie! How about we hop in the car and go on an adventure through space and time? And here… we… gooooo!

Segment 6

Video — this transcription is computer generated.

[00:00:15.170] – Speaker 4

Hello there. I’m Sidney, the founder of Connecting Champion. I started in 2011. I’m here in front of our offices in Pittsburgh, and I’m going to be your showcase for the evening. So let’s go on an adventure and say Hi to our our very first friendship with candidates. Let’s go.


[00:00:32.570] – Speaker 2

Hi, guys. I’m Camden. I’ve been Connecting Champions as I was four years old, and I have to be a professional wrestler, and I thought Sidney was a WWE wrestler so I wanted to be his friend.


[00:00:41.690] – Speaker 4

And I’m Sidney, clearly the WW wrestler in Connecting Champions. And I must say, Camden, we’ve been friends for nine years, and one of my favorite things is that we’re constantly inventing things such as we invented a math club during the pandemic. And what are you up to now?


[00:00:59.270] – Speaker 2

I am twelve years old about the time 13 next month, and I’ll be professional basketball play when I grow up.


[00:01:08.370] – Speaker 4

Hi, Ron. I’m Emily.


[00:01:09.690] – Speaker 2

I’m the administrator.


[00:01:13.690] – Speaker 4

We’re here in Pittsburgh in front of Not Planned Studios. My name is Shawna. I live in McKee’s Rock. I was 14 when I joined Connecting Champion, and this is my mentor, Nisha.


[00:01:27.110] – Speaker 2



[00:01:27.410] – Speaker 4

I’m Nisha Blackwell, founder of Nonplanned Bow Chives. We make handmade bow chives out of

repurpose of reflux and material. I feel like our creativity connected estimates. I’m 20 years old and I’m a multimedia artist.


[00:01:45.930] – Speaker 1

Hi, everybody.


[00:01:46.830] – Speaker 4

My name is Coy, and I’m the senior program manager here at Connecting Champions. I’ve been with organizations since 2015, and I’m excited because today I’m here with the Penguins in order to introduce my old friend Angelica and her role model, Chef Jeff, who is the executive chef with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Am I supposed to be in Pittsburgh Penguins? Hi.


[00:02:13.110] – Speaker 1

I’m Angelica. I joined Connecting Champions when I was nine years old. And my favorite memories with my friend and mentor, Chef Jeff, was when I cooked with him for the first time and getting hockey tickets. And I wanted to be a chef then, and I want to be a chef.


[00:02:31.050] – Speaker 4



[00:02:34.890] – Speaker 1

My favorite dish to make is my pasta salad.


[00:02:41.490] – Speaker 4



[00:02:42.210] – Speaker 3

I’m Chef Jeff, and I was honored to be Angelica’s Champion in Connecting Champions when she was nine. And my favorite memory was meeting Angelica for the first time and then fast forwarding here and seeing how much healthier she became as she was beating leukemia. That really struck a nerve with me and really has resonated with me all these years. And it’s so nice to see you’re so grown up and full life and healthy now. So my favorite thing to Cook is anything pasta. I love pasta, and I could eat it every day, every meal.



– Speaker 3


Segment 7

Sean: Oh man, that was so sweet! One of my favorite things about Connecting Champions is that the mentors give the kids and young adults like us a glimpse into our future, and it’s so fun to see the kids following their dreams after all these years. But Katie, I do have a question: It was really fun to go back in time, but what in the world is Connecting Champions up to now?

Katie: Great question, Sean! Let’s hop back in our car and check out some of our friendships around the country! And here… we… goooooo!

Segment 8

Video — this transcription is computer generated.


[00:00:04.730] – Speaker 1

Hi, everyone. I’m Sloan, and I’m the West Virginia program coordinator for Connecting Champions, and I’ve been here since July 2020. Last year, we embarked on a historic partnership with WVa Medicine Children’s Hospital and opened up our second ever physical location for Connecting Champions. For a few years, we had been raising funds and formalizing the partnership, and we finally did. I was designated as an essential worker, and I work alongside the hospital staff each day. We have a contract with the hospital, and they pay us to provide our services to their pediatric oncology patients.


[00:00:39.290] – Speaker 1

It marked a new era for Connecting Champions. I’d love to take you along and show you some of the friendships we’ve created here.


[00:00:45.710] – Speaker 8

Let’s go.


[00:00:46.490] – Speaker 2



[00:00:46.790] – Speaker 10

I’m Sloan. And I’m here today with Katherine. Jess kasfer wanted to meet somebody who shared in his love for anime and art, and Jess did just that. They get together virtually and have weekly drawing competitions where they do a big reveal about what they drew for that week. After their assignment from the previous week. Let’s go outside and see what they have to say today.


[00:01:06.170] – Speaker 4

What’s up? Hello.


[00:01:08.270] – Speaker 2

My name is Jess.


[00:01:09.290] – Speaker 11

I’m Casper.


[00:01:10.850] – Speaker 2

We’re best friends. Yeah. Tell them, Cass, because.


[00:01:16.730] – Speaker 8

I was in a dark place. He was one of my many lights during chemotherapy, and I love having someone talking to about anime.


[00:01:25.970] – Speaker 2

Heck, yeah. And I get the opportunity to share with my best, but the art and magic of painting and getting into all that is art and anime, of course.


[00:01:38.990] – Speaker 4

Oh, my gosh.


[00:01:39.470] – Speaker 2

Yes, of course. And we’ve been on this journey together, hanging out, spending our time together now for the first time live, I might add, and we’re going to go spend some time together. But we’ve been together for six months now, and I can’t tell you how incredible it has been to get to know you guys for real, buddy.


[00:02:01.190] – Speaker 8

You too.


[00:02:03.830] – Speaker 2



[00:02:08.730] – Speaker 4

Hey, everyone.


[00:02:09.450] – Speaker 10

I’m Katie. And I’m here in West Virginia on WV’s campus, where I study. I’m an OLM of Connecting Champions, and I’ve been speaking at the event since 2019. I’m excited to introduce you to our friends Amy and Rachel, for both of plans are integrity.


[00:02:23.550] – Speaker 8

Hi, I’m Amy, and this is my mentor, Rachel.





[00:02:27.990] – Speaker 11

I’m Rachel. And today, me and Amy got to go to an amazing tea party, and we just visited a cold shop. We’ve done a lot of fun things together like dissecting strawberry DNA. Amy’s helped me overcome my fear of Roosters.


[00:02:56.590] – Speaker 12

Hi, I’m Sean, Connecting Champions Development intern since May of 2021, I’m here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, home of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, to visit one of our Aya’s Maddie and her mentor, Ron at the Michigan State University Research Building.


[00:03:13.570] – Speaker 6

Hi, I’m Maddie.


[00:03:14.650] – Speaker 8

I am 15. This is my mentor, Ron, and my favorite part about meeting him and getting to know him is getting the tourist lab and learn about all of the fun stuff that he is. Doing that I want to do in the future.


[00:03:29.710] – Speaker 3

So my name is Ron Chandler. My favorite thing about science is really just the process of discovery. Ever since I was younger, I was just really in tune with nature and loved everything biological. But the one thing I didn’t have was a lot of experience in the lab growing up, and it wasn’t exposed to anything. And so I felt like giving back to junior scientists or kids who are interested in research was an important thing for me to do. And so that’s why I enjoy mentoring man.





[00:04:05.090] – Speaker 7

My name is Isabel, and I’m here in Oklahoma. I was a friendship intern at Connecting Champions over the summer, and I’m here to check in on our friends Cooper and Elton, who are writing a book together.


[00:04:16.610] – Speaker 4

My name is Cooper. I am nine years old and live in Oklahoma. When I grow up, I want to be an offer. Hi.


[00:04:30.090] – Speaker 2

I’m Alison Carter. I also live in Oklahoma, and I’m the author of The Boy Who Carried Bricks. Cooper, can you tell me a little bit about your book?


[00:04:41.310] – Speaker 4

I am reading a book about wise drivers.





[00:04:45.690] – Speaker 2

That’s amazing.


[00:04:46.830] – Speaker 12

Can you tell me why do you want to be an author?


[00:04:50.370] – Speaker 4

Because I’ve always wanted to share my ideas with people.


[00:04:54.930] – Speaker 6

That’s amazing.


[00:04:55.890] – Speaker 2

Sounds great. Okay, everybody, let’s do a high 5123.


[00:05:09.430] – Speaker 4

Hi, everyone.


[00:05:10.570] – Speaker 5

My name is Sofia. I’m a virtual program associate, and I started in June of 2021. This past year, I’m here in Kentucky to say Hi to one of our coolest friendships. Like many of our kids and young adults, Katie is passionate about multiple things, so we paired her with not one but two mentors from each coast. Let’s go say Hi.


[00:05:34.930] – Speaker 4



[00:05:35.290] – Speaker 6

My name is Katie, and I am ten. I live in Lexington, Kentucky, and I am very interested in moms. One of, like, my favorite moth in general, is probably the little moth, and now bring it over to Jason.





[00:05:55.930] – Speaker 6

My name’s Jason. I study little tiny Brown Moss, and I’m a little older than ten, and I study them at the Cornell University insect collection. All right. Thank you. Anyways, I’m really interested in marine biology. If you don’t know what an axial is, it is an underwater salamander that can regrow lymphs, and I quite find them cute. Anyways, moving on to the next person.





[00:06:32.390] – Speaker 6

I’m Marina. I’m a marine biologist, and while I don’t study axials, I do study deep sea animals.


[00:06:39.470] – Speaker 7

Like, really cool two parts. I’m also a marine biologist. I work in the same lab as Marina, but rather than studying eat sea animals, I study a really cool coastal dish from Australia, the group of dishes called sea Dragons.


[00:07:07.990] – Speaker 8

Hi, guys. I’m Kate. I’ve been a virtual program associate with Second Champion since October of 2021. I’m here in Cleveland, and we’re going to say Hi to AJ and Tracy. Aj was a patient at, uh, Rainbow Babies and Children hospital.


[00:07:21.130] – Speaker 4

Let’s go. Hi.


[00:07:22.150] – Speaker 8

I’m AJ. I live in northeast Ohio, and I’m a digital artist, and I’m Tracey.


[00:07:26.650] – Speaker 9

I also live in northeast Ohio, and I’m also a digital artist.


[00:07:30.130] – Speaker 8

I would describe my style as enthusiastic and colorful.


[00:07:33.370] – Speaker 9

And I would describe mine as painterly and textured.


[00:07:36.190] – Speaker 8

And we both use the exact same program.


[00:07:38.170] – Speaker 9

But we get completely different results.


[00:07:40.630] – Speaker 8

I’ve learned a lot from Tracy. I’ve learned how to connect with other artists and how to appreciate my own artwork.


[00:07:45.370] – Speaker 9

And I’ve learned from AJ to do more drawing and to be more confident.


[00:07:49.690] – Speaker 8

And this is what we’ve made for the 10th anniversary.

Segment 9

Unscripted segment — three AYAs talking + matching donation segment


Segment 10

Katie: Wow. I can’t believe we just raised $XXX in only eight minutes? You all are amazing! None of this would be possible without the support of our donors. Thank you for always supporting Connecting Champions and the dreams of kids and young adults like Sean and I every single day! I can’t wait to see pictures and hear stories of the friendships this evening is making possible.

Sean: And to all of our sponsors — you *made* this evening. You have become a part of our family throughout these last ten years. Thank you to UPMC Health Plan and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for being our Gold Sponsor, to Peoples Gas as our Silver Sponsor, to Highmark Health: Highmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield and Allegheny Health Network as our Bronze Sponsor, to Residence Inn Morgantown as our Bronze Sponsor, to CliftonLarsonAllen as our Supporting Sponsor, and to Oyster Creative Co. as our Supporting Sponsor

Sean: It’s incredible knowing that these funds raised today are going to be able to be used to help bring smiles to those in the hospital. As cancer survivors, we realize just how special this support and love is and we are eternally grateful.

Katie: And how about how many people are on for the toast!! Over 400 people! And in so many states! It’s truly a testament to just how much good there is in the world. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for being here today and supporting Connecting Champions! And now for our final segment, “A day in the life of a Connecting Champions young adult or kid.” Every week, our kids, young adults, & mentors get together over video to get a behind-the-scenes look at an exciting profession, and now you’ll be joining us! So grab a pen and paper, and for our families, grab the crayons and sketchbook from your Toast Box. And without further ado, Sidney — can you bring on AJ & Tracy, as well as Coy & Cait?

Segment 11

[00:00:01.270] – Speaker 1

Hi, everyone. I’m AJ, one of the young adults in Connecting Champions here with my mentor, Tracy. Tracy and I regularly make digital art over video. And this time, we wanted to include you all. We’re calling it a day in the life of a Connecting Champions, young adult or child. Today I’m going to give you a crash course on how to draw a tote on a pumpkin. Coy and Kate from Connecting Champions are going to join me, too. So Hello, friends. Hey, James. Out there, to the kids out there, grab your sketchbook and crayons.


[00:00:30.910] – Speaker 1

And to the adults, grab some paper and a pencil and let’s jump right in. So first we’re going to draw a circle with an Oval on the inside.


[00:01:08.890] – Speaker 2

And then we’re going to color in our Oval.


[00:01:10.870] – Speaker 1

This will be the eye of our toad. It’s perfectly okay for it to not be perfect. Okay. I think we can move on. Next, we’re going to draw a larger circle on the left side of the eye and a really small circle on the right side of the eye. This will be our nostril and our ear. Toad’s ears just look like circles. Now we’re going to move on and we’re going to draw a curved line around the eye. It doesn’t have to go all the way around the eye.


[00:02:04.330] – Speaker 1

Sorry, but this is going to be our eyelid. Next, we’re going to draw a curved line going from the eyelid down to the rump of our toad. That’s going to be his little butt. Next, we’re going to draw another curved line on the side of the eyelid. This will be the second eyelid Tote’s eyes face both sides of their face. So we’re not going to see much of the other eye, but we will see the eyelid. Next, we’re going to draw the mouth. It’s going to go around the nostril.


[00:02:47.230] – Speaker 1

That’s the first part of the mouth. It’s just going to be one curved line. And now we’re going to make another couple of curved lines. We’re going to make the bottom lip and the top lip. You can see it curves up in the corner, and that’s going to be where it’s smiling. Now we’re going to draw one more curved line going down and then around like a hump. That’s going to be the top part of its front leg. Now we’re going to draw the bottom part of the leg.


[00:03:24.250] – Speaker 1

So we’re going to do one line going off the bottom, and then we’re going to curve the other line going towards that line. It’s going to just go like this and that’s perfectly okay if you don’t get it right the first time. I know instructions can be confusing. That’s why we have pictures. Next, we’re going to do the toes. Toe toes are very long, so you can make them as long as you’d like, but they’re going to look like little slippers. Now we’re going to move back to the ramp and we’re going to make the back leg and we’re going to do one curved line.


[00:04:05.670] – Speaker 1

We’re not going to touch the rump just yet. Now we’re going to do a little bit of a loop, almost like the letter C. We’re going to do it. So it touches the rump. We’re not going to touch the rest of the leg just yet. Now we’re going to make another curved line. It almost looks like an L. So if you know the letter L, it’s going to curve like that. Now we’re going to go back to more toes. We have now finished the back leg.


[00:04:48.570] – Speaker 1

So we’re going to make more little slippers. All right. Now we’re going to finish the back leg at the top. We’re going to make it a little hip. So we’re going to do another curved line. Then we’re going to move back to the front leg and do a curved line there. Those are where the legs connect to the body. There’s fatty tissue there. Now we all know toads give you warts. No, they don’t. So we’re going to give our toad warts, because toads do have them.


[00:05:32.430] – Speaker 1

So we’re going to draw a little bumps on our toad and right behind the ear, the first circle. We’re going to make another line because a fat toad is a happy toad. Okay, now we’re going to move on to our pumpkin. We’re going to do one large Oval right under the foot of our towed. He’s going to be sitting on his pumpkin. Now we’re going to make two more curved lines, one on the right and one on the left. Make sure to connect them to the first Oval.


[00:06:25.710] – Speaker 1

We’re going to make two more curved lines, one on the right and one on the left. Make sure to connect them to the toad and to the pumpkin. We’re going to make our pumpkin big and fat, just like our toad. Okay. We’re going to start the stem of our pumpkin. Now we are going to make a curved line, and you’re going to go from the pumpkin to the mouth of the toad. Now we’re going to add just a little bit of detail to our stem to make it look twisty and spooky.


[00:07:01.370] – Speaker 1

So we’re going to add some lines that curve just like that one. But below it, in between the towed and the beginning of the stem. If that seems a little unclear, the picture should show you. Okay, let’s move on to the top of our stem. Now we’re going to make sure it twists as the farmers just cut it off the vine. Make sure that it has two parts. One that looks like a little loop. And then you’re going to connect another little loop there that shows the twist of the vine.


[00:07:43.730] – Speaker 1

Now, to make our pumpkin look more full, we’re going to add two more curved lines behind the stem. You don’t have to do this part, but it makes your pumpkin look a little more finished. Now we’re going to color our toad. Yes, most toads come in shades of Browns and oranges. I made mine Brown. The underbelly is usually a little bit lighter, and the eye is usually a gold or an Orange. Very beautiful creatures, aren’t they? They are. This is fascinating to see how all these simple shapes build up into this illustration.


[00:08:30.310] – Speaker 1

Thank you. Okay.


[00:08:36.890] – Speaker 2

Now we are going to move on to our pumpkin.


[00:08:38.630] – Speaker 1

We all know pumpkins is Orange, but you know, they can come in tons of different colors. They start off green. Sometimes they can go yellow. I tried to go with a nice classic Orange, though. Now we’re going to add just a little bit of detail only if you want to. But I made my stem Brown. And then I added a little bit of green to my pumpkin to show that it had just ripened. And if you want to add a little bit more detail, you can add a shadow.


[00:09:19.450] – Speaker 1

The shadow usually goes on the opposite side of where your light is coming from. But again, you don’t have to do this part, and you can add a background color. And don’t forget to sign your artwork.

Segment 12

Katie: Well, I guess we’ve reached the end of the Toast to 10 Years! Thank you for joining us for such an incredible milestone and for allowing us to celebrate a decade of changing kids’ and young adults’ lives, one mentorship at a time.

Sean: This was such a fun event to look back on the past decade but also focus on what is on the horizon for Connecting Champions, but none of this would be possible without the love and support of your incredible and generous donations.

Katie: I’m Katie

Sean: And I’m Sean! Thanks for tuning in to our Toast to 10 Years! We hope you have a great night!

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