Why was Ollie's Orchestra created?

On April 11, 2019, our then 9-month old son, Oliver, whom we affectionately call Ollie, was diagnosed with Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (ATRT). We were devastated and our hearts were broken. Ollie became our guiding light during his cancer journey and he found solace and peace through music. Throughout his first rounds of chemotherapy, Ollie, and by proxy us, his parents, were gifted with many musical instruments and musical performances right in Ollie’s hospital room. The smiles, sense of calm, peace and joy that permeated the hospital room whenever Ollie got to experience music was a lifeline for all of us.

We created Ollie’s Orchestra because we wanted to replicate our experience and provide other children and their families going through the pediatric oncology journey with a similar reprieve and hopefully joy and peace when possible. We know music is a universal language that all can appreciate and we hope those that find themselves with one of our instruments will be able to find those moments of joy, as we did, during their journey.

What are the foundations goals?

Ollie’s Orchestra is a 501(c)(3) non-profit with a three-fold mission. The first is to provide quality musical instruments and music education to infants, children and adolescents with a cancer diagnosis throughout treatment and beyond. We also aim to advocate for children with cancer, as well as provide financial support for institutions doing great work in advancing pediatric brian cancer research.

It's the foundation's hope to support fellow pediatric oncology families through music and advocacy. We would love a world where no one has to experience pediatric cancer, but know that the diagnoses will come each and every single day. By providing quality musical instruments and music education to children with cancer, we hope to give children something joyful and beautiful to focus on during their treatment.

What is the focus area of your efforts?

Our lived experience has been pediatric brain cancer. ATRT particularly has a dismal prognosis with treatments that are harsh. If one survives, they often survive with devastating and debilitating side effects. Our son Ollie is now 5.5 years old and is the most beautiful spirit with a zest for life. He has experienced an unbelievable amount of side effects as a result of the treatment that saved him. We are particularly focused on research in the pediatric brain tumor realm, and particularly how the use of data can propel clinical trials and hopefully treatments forward.

In what ways do you support the brain tumor community?

We support the pediatric brain tumor community by providing quality musical instruments and music education to children with a cancer diagnosis (as well as their siblings). We also supplement our musical instrument program with music education – we provide monthly Rhythm Circles with our partner, Pickleberry Pie over zoom. This gives children who have received a backpack the opportunity to virtually join other children in the pediatric cancer community with a way to learn how to use their instruments and make music together. We also provide virtual lessons for guitar recipients. We take custom instrument requests as well and link them up with lessons for their particular instrument. We think music is such an individual form of expression and was and continues to be an integral part of our journey. And we hope it provides the same for other families.

Why do you support CBTN?

We are so thrilled to be partnering with CBTN! One thing we have learned through this journey is that collaboration is key to helping the pediatric oncology community. The collaborative efforts of data sharing is critical to helping researchers and clinicians work together to create better outcomes for our children. We are honored to be a part of this global network!

-Rachel Krieger and Max Horn, Co-founders of Ollie's Orchestra