When he was 11, Cameron Cohen created the hit drawing app iSketch for the iPhone and donated $20,000 of the proceeds from its sales to the Chase Child Life program at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA.
Now 13, he's at it again. This time, the eighth grader has created another app for iPhones and iPads called AnimalGrams (and AnimalGrams HD). Cameron's goal with this new game is to raise funds to support pediatric cancer research at UCLA.
"After having made iSketch, a productivity app, I chose to create a pick-up-and-play–type of game, because those are the types of games that seem the most popular on the iPhone," he said. "AnimalGrams is a fun and challenging anagram-style word game where you have to un-scramble letters to form words. Each letter tile is in the shape of an animal — hence the name AnimalGrams."
Cameron's road to philanthropy and app development started in March 2009, when he was a patient at UCLA Medical Center–Santa Monica, part of the UCLA Health System, where he underwent surgery for what turned out to be a benign bone tumor.
He remained hospitalized for 10 days and then headed home to recuperate in a bulky leg brace that sidelined him from playing sports. To stay busy, he taught himself the programming language for iPhone applications, watched online iTunes University lectures and studied Apple manuals and tutorials. He decided to develop an inexpensive app for drawing on the iPhone and ultimately came up with iSketch.
In November 2009, Apple Inc. accepted iSketch, and it quickly became a big hit. Cameron then donated $20,000 of the proceeds to help buy electronic and entertainment items for other pre-teens and teens to enjoy during their hospitalization at UCLA.
"I had great care in the hospital," Cameron said. And while he was fortunate to have his iPod with him for entertainment during his hospitalization, "other kids in the hospital need things to help make them feel better too," he said.
This time around, the young humanitarian will be donating a substantial portion of the proceeds from sales of both AnimalGrams and iSketch to Dr. Noah Federman, an assistant professor of pediatric hematology–oncology and director of the pediatric bone and soft tissue sarcoma program at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA.
Federman's research focuses on using targeted nanoparticles to treat pediatric sarcomas, which are aggressive and often lethal cancers of the bone and soft tissue. The survival rate for patients with these types of cancers when they have spread or relapsed is about 20 percent, even with aggressive chemotherapy, surgery and radiation treatments.
"I'm excited about supporting the research of Dr. Federman because I feel that his research on treatment of pediatric bone cancer using nanoparticles is extremely innovative and will hopefully lead to breakthroughs that will make an incredible difference in many kids' lives," Cameron said. "I feel a direct connection to his research, as I had a tumor in my leg bone, though mine was fortunately benign."
Read more about Cameron and his apps on his website, www.cccdev.com.
Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA, one of the highest-rated children's hospitals in California and a vital component of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, offers a full spectrum of primary and specialized medical care for infants, children and adolescents. The hospital's mission is to provide state-of-the-art treatment for children in a compassionate atmosphere and to improve the understanding and treatment of pediatric diseases.