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      Local nonprofit hopes to raise money to help more kids with cancer

      NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Every day, 46 children in South Carolina are diagnosed with cancer. Of those, seven die.

      Their stories of hope and perseverance inspired a North Charleston woman to start the nonprofit Courageous Kidz more than 30 years ago.

      September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month which began in part by Deborah Stephenson and her group. It's a small group, just Stephenson and one other person, but they have changed lives in very big ways.

      Now photographs fill the office where they work, reminders of why Courageous Kidz began in 1982. Each picture tells a child's story, and each was personally helped by Stephenson, or "Flash" as the kids call her.

      "I feel like we are an extension of the family. I feel blessed like that. I mean it could be me, it could be you, and we're going to be there" she said.

      The nonprofit helps children with cancer and their families deal with any financial or emotional burdens.

      It could be as small as a gas card that helps the family get to and from the hospital, or as something as priceless as a shoulder to cry on on a day of fun.

      "I love what I do. I love what I do. Each one of the children, I have a wonderful relationship with each one of them. I am just blessed," Stephenson said.

      The staff says two people working from home keeps operating costs low, and that means most of the money -- 92 percent -- goes to helping families.

      But for all Courageous Kidz does, Stephenson says it can do so much more with help.

      "I need the public's help. It takes a lot of dollars to do what we do. I'll find a way. I feel like this is a mission from god and I've been blessed," she said.

      So even at the end of a very long day when Stephenson may feel like giving up, reminders of who she's fighting for are never far from sight.

      Stephenson has started a fundraising challenge, and it's one she's willing to accept herself. She hopes 46 other people will join her in shaving their heads to raise money.

      For more information about Courageous Kidz, click here.

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