The KEYS Program




Smile Experience Coming to a Track Near You! 

Our crew has been having a blast putting together our Smile Experience program 2019!   We should have our schedule together in the next few weeks, but in the meantime, swing by our Smile Experience Facebook page to see some photos... and smiles... like these from last year's events!   

We are always looking for awesome volunteers to help us create BIG smiles!  If you would like more information on how to join our volunteer Smile Crew, contact KEYS Executive Director, Colleen Bennett, at or give us a call at 315-363-6446.  

 1,228 Hearts + 12 States = BIG Smiles!

BIG thanks to everyone who participated in our "Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve Day" this year!  Check out this beautiful video of all of the hearts...and smiles...created!

 Meet our Awesome Cast of Interns at Russell Sage College!

These talented students at Russell Sage College in Troy have been writing songs, creating skits, and building a colorful, kid-friendly set to film episodes for our KEYS Kids Network.  They are filming this semester and we can’t wait for you to meet the awesome cast of characters...and puppets...they have added to the program to make the KEYS Kids Network even more fun and interactive for our KEYS kids.  Stop by our website and social media in the coming months for behind-the-scenes clips and photos of filming as the next season of the KEYS Kids Network comes together!  We are thrilled to partner with Sage College & these extraordinary students to create smiles!

 We are Accepting New Students and Sites!

The KEYS Program currently has opening for music therapy and adaptive music lessons for children and adults on the autism spectrum and those with various disabilities in Oneida and Madison Counties. In addition, we provide music therapy for special needs sites, oncology units, hospitals and nursing homes.  If you would like more information, contact us at or 315-363-6446.


 25 Years of Smiles!

“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” Mother Teresa


In November and December, the KEYS Program celebrated its 25th anniversary with BIG smiles! Together, with the support of our amazing crew of volunteers and generous donors like you, we were able to share the biggest and best holiday smiles outreach for our KEYS kids yet! 


Here are some of the highlights of the smiles YOU helped to create…

On Dec. 2nd, we hosted a free Holiday Smiles concert for over 300 families at the CAC in  Sherrill! The concert was broadcast throughout the holiday season on our KEYS Kids Network bringing music, joy and smiles to the bedside of pediatric patients across the country.



Throughout the month of November and December, we received donations of over 300 board games for our holiday deliveries to our KEYS kids! (BIG thanks to everyone who donated!) Our Smile Crew volunteers came out to our Holiday Wrap party on a cold and blustery Sunday to lovingly wrap those games and put them into our Holiday Smiles Care Packages for our KEYS kiddos!


Our Elves delivered 183 Holiday Smiles Care Packages filled with holiday treats, Christmas music and board games to our KEYS kids in Central NY this holiday season. In addition, we delivered care packages to KEYS kids in Pennsylvania, Colorado, California and an extra special delivery by our Paulie’s Super Siblings Smile Crew in Virginia to a special military family.


Thank you all so very much for making so many smiles possible this holiday season! 




Sunday October 21, 2018 was Paulies Super Siblings wish day!!! This year's wish kid was Vinny. His older sister is a cancer survivor and pediatric cancer advocate. Vinny loves GameStop and YouTube. So we surprised him a shopping spree/day at Destiny USA! Check out these smiles from Sunday!!

Paulie's Mom Angela created Paulie's Super Siblings at the KEYS Program in memory of her son Paulie who passed away from cancer in order to deliver wishes and BIG smiles to the behind-the-scenes superheroes...siblings of kids battling cancer! Angela,Paulie's sister Haiden, Paulie's aunt Ashley and their wonderful friends gathered together on Angela's 30th birthday to make the day so very special for Vinny! How cool is that!?

Extra thanks to Roxy, Peter, Paul, and all the GameStop (Destiny in Syacuse NY location) crew for coming in and working with us to make Vinny's wish extra special!!! <3

BIG thanks to everyone who makes donations to the KEYS Program's Paulies Super Siblings program throughout the year to make wishes and smiles like this possible! We couldn't do it without you!! #pauliesmiles#vinnyrocks #hallyrocks #itsallaboutthesmiles #pauliessupersiblings


Bids for Kids 2018 Raises over $4,000 to Benefit the KEYS Program!

On September 23, 2018, from Noon to 4 p.m. at Vernon Downs Casino and Hotel in Verona NY, CNY Parties and Events hosted “Bids for Kids” a basket/item raffle and live auction in an effort to raise revenue for the KEYS Program.  The event is family friendly and featured free entertainment for all that attend. Families enjoyed music from Justin Smithson of Showtime and Poor Tim, walking magic from JCharlz Magic, Face Painting by local artist Mary Fessia and appearances by both Spiderman and Elsa provided by Once Upon a Party.  Our live auctioneer was Brittney Lee from BUG Country 99.7/101.1.


BIG THANKS to Joe and Monica Hickel from CNY Parties and Events for hosting such a wonderful event to bring BIG smiles to our KEYS Kids! 

 Smile Experience Events Coming Up Oct 5th and 14th!

The KEYS Program's annual Smile Experience family respite day events are coming up on Oct 5th and Oct 14th!  Our Smile Experience is a family fun day for our KEYS kids and their families with face painting, a photo booth, live music and each child gets to be a real race car driver for the day, taking laps on the track. celebrating in Victory Lane and even getting a trophy!

Our 1st Smile Experience takes place "Under the Lights' at the Syracuse Quarter Midget Track at the NYS Fairgrounds in Syracuse, NY on Friday October 5th from 6:30 to 8:30pm!

Our 2nd Smile Experience will be full of daytime racing action at the Oswego County Quarter Midget Track, 60 Howard Road, Fulton, NY on Sunday, October 14th from Noon until 4pm! 


We have about 50 kids impacted cancer and their siblings from throughout the area joining us at the Smile Experiences this year. Feel free to come out to cheer on our KEYS kids at one of the events this fall! Admission is FREE and smiles are priceless! 




The KEYS Program is thrilled to announce is has partnered with The Tony Stewart Foundation on a cool national campaign called Tony's Kids Can, to create really BIG smiles for our KEYS kids battling cancer here in Central New York and across the US! 

We would LOVE for all of YOU to be a part of it!

Tony Stewart, three-time NASCAR Cup Champion, race team owner, philanthropist and long-time supporter of the KEYS Program, is a self-proclaimed “big softie” for kids. His foundation provides monetary grants to outstanding charitable organizations, like the KEYS Program, providing programs and services to children who are critically ill and/or physically disabled. Tony believes that every child can thrive and can “be a kid”. ​

Tony’s Kids Can, an online peer-to-peer giving program, is designed to encourage creative, thoughtful and fun fundraising. Envision hosting a backyard cookout or a tasting for wine or craft beer. Envision a movie night or backyard tent sleepover for the kids. Invite your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors to join you in this special endeavor. Have fun doing it!


1) Join Our "SMILES FOR KEYS KIDS" Team!  Be a part of our Team by making a donation of any size to our Smiles for KEYS Kids page on the Tony's Kids Can site! Be sure to SHARE it with your friends and family to encourage them to give so they can create smiles too! (Stay tuned for some cool matching donations throughout the campaign to double your donation!

2) Win a Cool Helmet!  Every person who donates $25 or more to our Team will be entered in a special drawing to win a kids racing helmet autographed by our KEYS kids! (Drawing will take place at our August 4th Smile Experience!)

3) Create Your Own Team to Benefit the KEYS Program! 
Create a Team of your own in honor of a KEYS kid, loved one or friend ...or just for FUN! (Be sure to select "The KEYS Program" in the drop down menu!:)​ Share it with friends and make it even MORE fun by raising money for your page with a simple FUNdraiser such as: a bake sale, a car wash, a bottle drive, lemonade stand, a summer garage sale, whiffle ball game or other FUN summer event! ​​

The more teams for our KEYS kids the more smiles YOU and the Tony Stewart Foundation can create!​


Feel free to contact us at or 315-363-6446 for more info!

It's all about heart...and the smiles!  

924 Hearts + 10 States = BIG Smiles!

A BIG thank you to everyone who "wore their hearts on their sleeve" for our KEYS kids this year! 924 people wore their hearts on their sleeves in California, Colorado, New York, Florida, Indiana, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Washington DC. 

Net proceeds from our Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve Day enable us to deliver music, hope and smiles to kids like THESE all year long & all at no cost to the families we serve! Thank you for making these smiles possible! ♥


Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve Day is February 28th!


Our Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve Day is a special day when you can create BIG smiles by wearing the KEYS heart on your sleeve in honor or memory of  our KEYS kids or someone you know who has been impacted by cancer. Get your workplace, classroom, friends and family involved to wear their hearts together to show their support on this special day!


Each sticker is just $2.50 each and has room for you to write in the name of a friend or loved one that you want to honor. (There is a minimum donation of $5 for all on-line orders-thanks for understanding!) 

Click on the heart below to purchase your hearts on-line!

Or contact us at to order your hearts today!

 Net proceeds enable us to deliver music, hope and smiles to kids like THESE all year long & all at no cost to the families we serve! ♥

 Music Toolkits Sent to 250 Children's Hospitals in 2017!

Thanks to a grant from the America Legion Child Welfare Fund  and the Tony Stewart Foundation, the KEYS Program published a special Music Toolkit that was given away to 250 children's hospitals and sites in December 2017. 

Included in each Music Toolkit are:

A comprehensive guide with research on the benefits of music, links to music education and therapy resources, music activities parents can do with their children, an award-winning children's book "Good Days are for Walking" and information on ways parents can incorporate music in the care of their child.  There is information in each Music Toolkit connecting the pediatric patients to our new KEYS Kids Network! We even threw in some awesome inspirational posters for each hospital site to post at their sites and colorful stickers too! 

Be sure to check out the songs that go along with the toolkit on our website so your kids can sing and dance along!! 

Our next round of Toolkits will be sent out to various children’s hospitals and sites later in 2018.  There will be a limited number of Toolkits available. If you are a Child Life Specialist or Music Therapist and would like sign up to receive a Toolkit in 2018, please contact the KEYS Program at! 


Give the Gift of Music with KEYS Annual Holiday Smiles Campaign!

November 20, 2017

Today is the day we kick off our annual Holiday Smiles campaign! Our goal is to deliver music, presents and BIG smiles to 100 KEYS kids (and their siblings) here in Central NY who have been impacted by cancer & serious illnesses this holiday season! Every $100 raised provides music, presents and joy to one child this holiday season! (Did we mention every donor gets a free Holiday CD?)

You have 3 ways to get involved this year!
1) You can donate a new unwrapped toy to KEYS by Dec 15th!
2) You can simply make an on-line donation to KEYS at !
3) You can host a Facebook fundraiser of your own (like this one) to benefit the KEYS Program! 

Thank you...thank you... THANK YOU for all you do! #holidaysmiles#itsallaboutthesmiles #keysprogram

For every donation of $25 or more you make to the KEYS Program you will receive a free Holiday Smiles CD as a special “thank you” for your kind donation. Songs on the CD are holiday classics that the whole family will love! They make great stocking stuffers or gifts for family, friends and colleagues...and all for a good cause!♥



Shhhhhh! We're Recording....

November 2017 Our smile crew is having a BLAST creating, recording and producing Season 1 of the KEYS Kids Network that will launch on the KEYS website January 8th!!!

This fun, zany, interactive, musical .... and educational (of course)...variety show will officially launch on January 8, 2018....just in time for our 25th year of creating SMILES at KEYS! 

Click on the "KEYS Kids Network" tab for more details and in the meantime...."stay tuned" for fun videos leading up to the launch throughout November and December! 

It's gonna be GREAT! 

Meet Paulie's Super Sibling Lily!

November 2017 Lily is younger sibling to Grant, Leukemia survivor and warrior! "Lily was still in diapers when her brother was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia" said Lily's mother Erin. "She was so good to him from day one. Occasionally she would go to his chemo treatment with us and go through all the motions with him. She could tell when he would get stressed and she would put her hand on his. She had so much empathy for her brother it was unreal. She was designed for it!"

Like many siblings, Lily has been by her brother's side throughout his treatment, comforting him, supporting him and loving him through it all. Because of the amazing sibling she is, we have selected Lily to be the recipient of our very first Paulie's Super Siblings wish!

Lily turns 8 on Nov 9th and has wished for some pretty awesome things! We will present Lily's wish to her at an awesome Chuck E Cheese birthday party our Smile Crew has put together for her on November 10th!

Stay tuned to hear about the awesome adventure we have planned for this beautiful SUPER sibling in the coming weeks. 

 Have you ordered your Music toolkit yet?

November 2017 KEYS Program is giving away its newly published Music Toolkits to over 250 children's hospitals by the end of 2017!  Click on the "Music Toolkit" tab for more info and for the songs that go along with the Music Toolkits!

Be sure to contact Mike, our Program Coordinator, at to order yours before they are gone!

Speaking of Holiday Smiles.... KEYS Toy Drive Starts Nov 1st Too!

November 2017 KEYS is collecting toys for us to deliver to our KEYS kids this Holiday season!  We would love for your family, business or group to get together to collect toys! Unwrapped new toys and gift cards can be dropped off at PR Plus Small Engine at 308 Sherrill Road starting November 1st and through December 15th. 

Contact KEYS at 315-363-6446 or if you would like to help! 


Tony Stewart Foundation Rocks!

September 2017  We are so thankful to The Tony Stewart Foundation for inviting the KEYS Program to be a part of their amazing Social Media Bootcamp in September!  Amazing charities! Great Info! (Lots of fun too!)

Thank you for all you do!


KEYS Kids Network Launching January 8, 2018!

Fall 2017 The KEYS Smile Crew has been busy in the KEYS studio this month creating and recording episodes for the KEYS Program's new KEYS Kids Network

The KEYS Kids Network will be a fun, zany, interactive and educational variety show broadcast right here on the KEYS website for pediatric patients providing uplifting songs, fun skits, special guests and an interactive segment where KEYS kids send in jokes, fun stories or share a favorite song of their own.

We have selected a wonderful line-up of award-winning children's authors, musicians, educators, therapists and counselors to facilitate our broadcasts. New episodes will be broadcast on Mondays throughout the season with re-runs available for the kids to watch again and again 24/7.   

"Stay tuned" for fun videos leading up to the launch throughout November and December! 

 Music Toolkits Coming to a Hospital Near You in December 2017!

Fall 2017 Thanks to a grant from the America Legion Child Welfare Fund, we are in the process of publishing a Music Toolkit that we will be giving away to children's hospital Child Life and Music Therapy staff. 

Included in each Music Toolkit will be:

A comprehensive guide with research on the benefits of music, links to music education and music  therapy resources, music activities parents can do with their children, an award-winning children's book and information on ways parents can incorporate music in the care of their child.

In addition, there will be information in each Music Toolkit connecting pediatric patients to our new KEYS Kids Network that will be launched in January 2018!

The American Legion Child Welfare Fund has assisted with the printing of the toolkits and the Tony Stewart Foundation has been *instrumental* in helping us meet our goal of reaching over 10,000 pediatric patients by the end of 2018! 

If you would like to request a Music Toolkit for the site you serve, please contact KEYS Program Coordinator, Mike Bennett at or give our office a call at 315-363-6446.

 Preparation Underway for 2017 Smile Experience

April 2017 Although there is still over a foot of snow on the race track surface, the calendar says it's officially Spring and time to start counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to our annual Smile Experience family respite day being held for kids impacted by cancer on August 6th from Noon till 4pm at the Oswego County Quarter Midget track in Fulton, NY!

The cars are being tuned-up, the safety gear is getting checked and our sponsorship team is out gathering sponsors so we can provide this AMAZING day for FREE for kids impacted by cancer here in Central NY! This year sponsors can "Adopt-a-Family" and provide a family a much needed break from cancer treatment to enjoy a fun-filled family experience together. We have limited sponsorship spots available so contact us for more information. 

May 2017 Our condolences and heartfelt prayers go out to KEYS Founders David and Colleen Bennett on the passing of David's father Phil Bennett.  

Phil was a former race car driver in the 1960's and 1970's winning the Brewerton Track Championship in 1969. He was an official for many years at local speedways in Central New York and promoter of the Brookfield Speedway from 1977-1980.  Funeral services are being held at 10am on Monday, May 15, 2017 at Owens-Pavlot & Rogers Funeral Home, 35 College Street, Clinton, NY. Burial will be at St. Paul's Cemetery in Paris Hill. All are invited to call Sunday from 4-7pm at the funeral home.

Please consider donations in Phil's memory to the KEYS Program, 308 Sherrill Road, Suite 100, Sherrill, NY 13461 or by clicking on the DONATE button on the website home page. 


"Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve Day" February 28, 2017!

Our Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve Day is a special day when you can create BIG smiles by wearing the KEYS heart on your sleeve in support of  our KEYS kids or someone you know who has been impacted by cancer. 

Each sticker is just $2 and has room for you to write in the name of a friend or loved one that you want to honor.

Get your workplace, classroom, friends and family involved to wear their hearts together to show their support on this special day!

Net proceeds enable us to deliver music, hope and smiles to kids battling cancer all year long and all at no cost to the families we serve! ♥

Click on the heart HERE to purchase heart stickers TODAY!

Contact us 315-363-6446 or if you would like to place your order by phone or email!   


December 2016 Thank you to everyone who made these smiles possible this year! Our generous donors, sponsors and foundations who give all year so we can deliver smiles, the wonderful folks at Stuff The Bus CNY, our awesome Smile Crew Elves who delivered presents & joy, our families who support our vision, and most importantly our KEYS Program kids & their families who inspire us to live not only a good life...but an extraordinary one....THANK YOU!!  

Sending along our best wishes for a holiday filled with joy, laughter and BIG smiles! 

Donate $25 and Receive a Holiday CD!

November 2016 From now through December 31, 2016 for every donation of $25 you make to the KEYS Program you will receive a free Holiday Smiles CD as a special “thank you” for your kind donation. Songs on the CD are holiday classics that the whole family will love, performed by Bing Crosby,  Judy Garland, Trans-Siberia Orchestra, Pentatonix and more! They make great stocking stuffers or gifts for family, friends and colleagues...and all for a good cause!♥

To get your free Holiday Smiles CD simply click on the “DONATE” button on our website and submit your donation!  (Be sure to enter your address so we can mail the CD to you!) 

Thank you for helping to create BIG smiles! 

 The KEYS Program and the Tony Stewart Foundation "Accelerating Change" Together!


November 2016  The KEYS Program is able to create smiles like these all year long thanks to a grant from the Tony Stewart Foundation! Their continued support enables us to provide bedside music, care packages and family respite days to thousands of kids each year who are battling cancer and serious illnesses...all at no cost to the families we serve.  

In the past 12 years, the Tony Stewart Foundation has generously awarded $6.5 million in grants to outstanding children, animal and driver charities, truly “accelerating change” in the lives of so many. Thanks to the support of the Tony Stewart Foundation, we are able to bring joy, healing and BIG smiles to our KEYS kids all year long! ♥

For more information about the good works of the Tony Stewart Foundation, visit their website at or swing by their Facebook page and let them know how awesome they are! We are so proud to work together to accelerate change!  


April 2016 The KEYS Program is excited to announce it has been selected one of six charities to receive a grant from the Save of the Day Foundation! The grant will enable the KEYS Program to assist children facing life-threatening illnesses with music therapy to brighten their spirits.

A check was presented to all of the grant recipients at the Utica Comets game on Friday, April 1 at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. 

The Comets “Save of the Day” Foundation is committed to promoting the needs of youth throughout the Mohawk Valley and offer contributions to other 501C3 organizations that have been authorized by the board of directors to support. The Foundation is committed to raising funds annually through special events, and direct fundraising activities to benefit the Mohawk Valley. Throughout the past decade the Rob Esche “Save of the Day” Foundation has donated over a million dollars for children facing life-threatening illnesses and their families as well as 501c3 organizations supporting education, health and wellness, and fitness in the Mohawk Valley. The save of the Day Foundation is proud to partner with the Utica Comets to further raise money for those in need through various efforts that have become common within professional hockey.


2016 Stuff the Bus Toy Drive to Benefit KEYS!

November 2016 We are excited to announce the KEYS Program has been selected to be one of the charities benefiting from the 2016 Stuff the Bus Toy Drive! The KEYS Program will deliver the toys it receives from this wonderful event to families who have a child battling cancer here in Central New York. 

"We are so grateful to Roser Communications, all of the wonderful sponsors and everyone who donates to Stuff the Bus each year", said Colleen Bennett, KEYS Founder and Executive Director. "The holidays are a particularly difficult time for families who have a child who is ill. Thanks to our generous community we are able to deliver music, hope and smiles to these brave superheroes and their siblings during a time when they could use some extra love and smiles the most!"

Stuff the Bus is an annual toy drive created to help the less fortunate in the Mohawk Valley have a happy holiday season despite any financial circumstances their families might have. It was started in 2007 by Roser Communications Network & its stations, 97.9/105.5 KISS FM, BUG Country 99.7 & 101.1, and 100.7 WUTQ in conjunction with WKTV NewsChannel 2 & Birnie Bus Service. Over the last 9 years an estimated 75,000 toys have been collected.  

For more information on where you can donate a new toy to the Stuff the Bus Toy Drive go to! 


Utica Comet's Mascot "Audie" Making a Visit to the Smile Experience! 

August 2016 The KEYS Program is excited to announce the Utica Comet's awesome and amazing mascot "Audie" will be making an appearance at the KEYS Program's Smile Experience family respite day August 28th! 

Hailing from exoplanet HD 189733b, a deep blue gas planet 63 light years away from our planet Earth, Audie unexplainably appeared in Utica, New York, which he now calls his home. Audie can be found skipping, hopping and skating through The AUD at lightening speeds, patrolling the ice for unwanted extraterrestrials and building spaceships out of broken hockey sticks. Audie’s home planet reaches daily temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, so he welcomes the cold winters of Utica, NY, and likes skating across the ice as often as possible.

In his spare time, Audie enjoys searching for his brothers and sisters at the Utica Zoo, messing with The AUD light system to create shooting stars, watching E.T., Buzz Lightyear and reruns of Elf, time traveling, stealing chicken riggies from Aqua Vino and surprising local Comets kids and fans at their birthday parties or events.

We are thrilled to have Audie join us to help deliver BIG smiles to our KEYS kids!