Jhene Aiko Launches WAYS Foundation, Donates $15,000 to 5-Year-Old Battling Leukemia: Exclusive
After releasing her sophomore album Trip, Jhene Aiko has been on a mission to encourage young teens to become voracious readers and writers through her #PennyPens Campaign. Now, the 29-year-old songstress is showcasing more altruism after launching her WAYS Foundation this past Christmas (Dec. 25).
In honor of her late brother, Miyagi -- who passed away from cancer at an early age -- Aiko created the foundation to instill hope into the lives of those who desperately need help. On Christmas Eve (Dec. 24), Aiko made her first donation to five-year-old Lily Olive of Eagle Rock, Ca. She visited the young girl at her home and made a surprise donation of $15,000 to cover her medical bills. Olive is currently battling leukemia after finding out her diagnosis during Thanksgiving break.
"This Christmas, I decided to gift my family with the 'WAYS Foundation,' something my family and I have had in the works since the passing of my brother," Aiko tells Billboard. "I decided to make a donation on my family's behalf in which we plan to continue to help people and families affected by cancer."
WAYS derives from the acronym "Why aren't you smiling," which was coined by Miyagi during his bout with cancer. He tweeted the succinct phrase during his diagnosis and treatment to spark humor and joy despite his painful situation. Miyagi also served as the focal point for Aiko's most recent offering, Trip.
Take a look at some of the photos from Jhene's trip below.