FAM founder Milk Tyson thought he knew tough. He had slept on streets and met gangs in Los Angeles; he was quite certain he’d met the roughest, scrappiest fighters around. Then he met a young cancer warrior that turned his life upside-down. He grabbed a ferocious team of volunteers and began his mission to emulate the inspiring grit, perseverance, and fight of these brave children. Milk Tyson and his team are turning the nonprofit world upside-down with Fighting All Monsters.
Fighting All Monsters (FAM) is a nonprofit organization supporting children with cancer. Rapidly growing and moving into their second year of operation, FAM is on a mission to bring quality support to families with children facing life-threatening challenges. They have since raised well over $1 million dollars and have donated every dollar directly to families.
Just as there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to treat cancer, the organization doesn’t believe in a single-sided approach to assisting families fighting cancer either. The nonprofit is known for its unconventional approach to assisting families: FAM has sent out hundreds of new iPads to kids in treatment, kept their families’ lights on, their mortgages and rents current, and their cars on the road. FAM has paid for accommodations and flights to facilitate life-saving treatments. FAM has ensured siblings go to prom in their dream dresses, and moms are provided with rest and recovery from childcare to retreats. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, FAM has provided emergency relief to countless families in need.
It all started after Milk met a child cancer fighter through his friend Justin Bieber. He began traveling the country and meeting and talking with dozens of families fighting cancer. What he discovered was disheartening: families were essentially taking up full-time jobs trying to seek, access, and apply for available assistance. Though many organizations had good intentions, he noticed that there was an expectation of humility, and no one was willing to rock the boat—not even for kids with cancer. That’s where he decided to step in.
FAM is not a cookie-cutter foundation. Hundreds of other nonprofits help families with medically complex children, but most of them have strict requirements, requesting piles of personal details, paperwork, and prejudiced hoops to jump through that make it difficult for children to get the assistance they need. FAM appeals to donors who want to cut the red tape and get donations directly to families. At FAM, it is not unheard of to receive an emergency request and have funds in that family’s hands the very same day.
Time is of the utmost importance to families fighting cancer, so the organization requests only a one-time introduction form that can qualify them for lifelong support. FAM brings these candidates to a “For Moms From Moms” panel consisting of bereaved mothers, mothers in the depths of their child’s active treatment, and survivor’s moms. They oversee referrals and all new families who come to the foundation and, as peers, make the final decisions of how to best utilize their resources.
The nonprofit has persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic, breaking its own records and continuing to raise and distribute funds while creating meaningful experiences and connections for families.
FAM aims to be a consistent force of support for families of children with cancer. In the future, they aim to someday be able to relieve families of financial stressors for months at a time. They also aim to support families’ mental health by giving access to appropriate therapies and continually growing platforms to connect families trudging through similar experiences.