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Hillsborough County classroom built for kids with cancer is the first of its kind in the country

Mary Ann Massolio founded program to honor her son
Posted at 5:14 AM, Sep 30, 2021

BRANDON, Fla. — Theo Hucks is a 3-year-old force of nature who loves toys and books and playing with other kids.

Now this awesome young man, who was born with neuroblastoma, has a very cool classroom to call his very own.

Hillsborough County Public Schools and a remarkable group called 1 Voice Academy have teamed up to open the nation's first fully accredited school for kids with cancer.

Not school at a hospital. Not school alone and isolated at home.

A school with books and classmates (and parents) going through similar experiences.

Theo's mom Mandy Hucks said 1 Voice Academy is going to be a game-changer for a lot of families.

"1 Voice has been a life-saving thing for our family at a time when you're just in turmoil, and you're super-overwhelmed, and you don't know where to turn to," she said.

1 Voice Academy accommodates students as old as high-school seniors and provides a safe educational and social environment for kids with specific medical and emotional needs.

1 Voice was started by another force of nature, Mary Ann Massolio, who launched the school in memory of her son Jay, who lost his battle with cancer when he was just nine years old.

Jay just wanted to feel like a normal kid and go to school with his peers.

So for 20 years, Massolio worked with a friend, and Hillsborough County School Board member, Dr. Stacy Hahn honor him.

Together, they turned a dream into a reality.

"As parents (of children with cancer)," said Massolio, "so often we say, 'No, you can't go to Girl Scouts' and 'No, you can't go to prom' and 'No, you can't go to baseball.' They should be able to go to school."

For more on 1 Voice Academy, go here.