What would happen if Santa Claus couldn't get the gifts he needed for children on Christmas Eve – the right kind, in sufficient quantity, and on time? That would be a global catastrophe causing disappointment for children worldwide, wouldn't it? But then Santa has all those elves helping him out and making toys, so it's not likely to happen.
Now, you may not believe in
Santa Claus, but you'd better believe in Bandana Claus. He's real,
and he delivers Christmas bandanas to young cancer patients in Costa
Rica every year. His name is Bruce Kujawski, and he did have that
supply problem . . . till he discovered Wholesale For Everyone.
Bruce Kujawski and Daniel
It all started 48 years ago
when the family of a boy, Bruce Kujawski, in upstate New York
welcomed an addition to the nine children they already had. That
"addition" was a foreign exchange student from Costa Rica,
Bernardo Gutierez. Bruce
and Bernardo soon became brothers in every way except sharing blood.
remained – and still
do today – in contact
after Bernardo graduated from West Point and returned to Costa Rica
for good. Eventually,
Bernardo married and had three children, to whom Bruce is "Uncle
At the age of just 15,
Bernardo's youngest child, Daniel Arce, was diagnosed with
osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer. Daniel fought the disease for
four years, all the while remaining committed to
serving others, pursuing his music passions, and excelling
brightly burning spirit inspired hope in those around him because
Daniel did all this while undergoing cancer treatments and several
Daniel graduated from high
school with his class in 2006, attended Ramapo College in the fall of
2007, and became an accomplished guitarist, pianist, and vocalist. At
Ramapo, he maintained a 4.00 GPA and tutored 30+ kids, all while
undergoing treatments and eight major surgeries. Daniel passed away
just one month before graduation. The Daniel Arce Scholarship is now
awarded to the student who best exemplifies Daniel's spirit in
helping others, especially peers.
So after Daniel succumbed to
the disease, Daniel Project (Proyecto
treatment, especially chemotherapy, can be brutal for younger
patients. The nausea, the weakness, the aches, and the hair loss can
make the treatment as difficult to endure as the disease,
particularly when hospital accommodations are rudimentary at best.
Not every country has something like Ronald McDonald House to provide
special rooms for the cancer-afflicted children and their parents to
ease the anxiety and pain and bolster hope.
Now in its eight year, Daniel
Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping young
people 13 to 25 years old overcome cancer in better facilities in
Costa Rica. Daniel's mother, Ligia, who is president of the
organization, explained: "The situation for teen cancer patients
was terrible . . . The project has contributed to healthcare centers
with orthopedic beds and the rebuilding of some healthcare
institutions. I feel Daniel's fighting spirit present in this
project." The organization has achieved amazing results for
these young patients with dedicated rooms for them in several
hospitals and an entire wing about to be added to one hospital for
was, of course, inevitable that Bruce Kujawski would become involved
with Daniel Project. It wasn't, however, clear in the beginning that
he would become Bandana Claus.
Bruce Becomes Bandana Claus
As you know, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments usually lose their hair. This happens because the
chemotherapy drugs target and suppress rapidly dividing cells,
which is what cancer
cells are and why cancer can spread so quickly.
But these drugs also attack other healthy
cells that divide rapidly, such as hair follicle cells, because the
drugs indiscriminately affect both normal cells and cancer cells. As
a result, many people receiving chemotherapy
lose most or all of the hair on their heads (a condition known as
young people such hair
loss can be both
disturbing and traumatic.
cope with this condition and to achieve a modicum of normalcy, many
patients resort to wearing a hat or head covering of some sort.
Younger patients often prefer something like a colorful bandana for
their head covering. And Bandana Claus accommodates them.
proudest role in Daniel Project is distributing colorful bandanas to
these young cancer patients at the annual Christmas party. For the
past five years, he has been buying several hundred dollar's worth of
bandanas (on his on dime), traveling to Costa Rica, dressing as Santa
Claus, and then presenting these bandanas and other gifts to the
patients. Bruce, or rather Bandana Claus, also visits all the young
people who were too sick too attend the party.
does he keep doing it? "These kids have done more to inspire me
and to keep me going than anything."
The Bandana Problem
If you ask Bruce where he gets
his bandanas, he
doesn't hesitate to
of course." It took Bruce a while, though, before he hooked up
with this bandana supplier.
In the early
days, Bruce's sisters
helped him by purchasing bandanas from various local stores. But the
sizes varied too much and the colors were too drab. What
he needed were bandanas in the loud colors and bright, eye-catching
patterns that the kids preferred. And he also needed some uniformity
in color, pattern, and size, as well as being able to purchase them
in sufficient quantity. And one single supplier who could meet all
those criteria would streamline things too
So. like most of us, Bruce
went online and started searching. Those kids, after all, were
depending on Bandana Claus.
The Wholesale For Everyone
At length, Bruce came across
Wholesale For Everyone. He was immediately impressed with the
"extraordinary variety and the discount offered on large
quantities," so he ordered a few bandanas to try them out. He
was, he says, then impressed with the fast delivery and soon became a
Bruce gets all his bandanas, every
year, from Wholesale
For Everyone. Because,
first of all, they
carry the loud colors and designs that really appeal to the young
cancer patients, such as the tie
and the star
The other reason is the top-notch
service. Here's an
example . . .
recent order came up
manufacturer didn't have enough product to fill the order, and
so they just didn't ship what they didn't have. While Bandana Claus
may travel on a 747 instead of a flying-reindeer-drawn sleigh, he
still has to deliver. The kids count on him, and he couldn't let them
So Dan Weaver, owner of
Wholesale For Everyone, called around to his competitors to find what
Bruce needed. But the
competitors didn't have them either. Dan's
solution then was to
up the difference with some of his religious
They were a big hit,
and Christmas was saved.
Now that's customer service –
for which both Bandana Claus and some young Costa Rican cancer
patients were very grateful.
Dare to Make Difference
Christmas is all about giving, and the two greatest gifts we can give to anyone are encouragement and hope. And that's what Bandana
Clause (as part of Daniel Project)
strives to bring to certain young people afflicted with cancer in
Costa Rica, along with some cool-looking bandanas, of course.
years ago a young student from Costa Rica came to live with a large
family in upstate New York. That young man became a brother to the
family's eldest son. When, years later, Bernardo's son died after
succumbing to cancer, Daniel Project was born, and Bruce Kujawaski
became Bandana Claus. Many young lives have been profoundly impacted
for the better and their suffering alleviated some.
See how it works?
you'd like to donate to Daniel Project, you can find the Facebook page here.