“I want [them] to grow up helping others. I was raised by my grandmother. We were low-income, but she was always taking in foster kids. She would help anyone, and it was a good lesson for me growing up.”
Cannon, 31, was in Orlando on Friday to host the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals‘ Awards Dinner. At the event, he mingled with children ages 3 to 17 who are fighting diseases or recovering from traumatic injuries.
“I really believe in this charity, in this event,” he says. “It’s our duty to help kids who need it.” Cannon was also on-hand to announce a collaboration between Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Kuboo.com, a 3D Virtual World for kids.
Sitting in his hotel room with PEOPLE before the event, Cannon points to a laptop with a missing key.
“My son was playing with it and he broke it,” he says with a laugh. “My kids are already attracted to technology. They want to touch it; they’re always reaching for it. They love my iPad. That’s their generation; they love computers. So it’ll be important as they grow older to know what they’re doing online, to keep them safe.”
It has been a rough year for Cannon. After suffering from kidney failure and blood clots in his lungs last winter, he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called lupus nephritis. Through medication and diet, things are now under control — except for one thing.
“I just had four root canals within the last 24 hours; other than that, I’m doing really well,” he says. “In fact, I couldn’t have dental work while I was having my health problems because of blood issues. So it’s great that I could finally get the work done. Once my teeth heal up, I’ll be in great shape!”
– Steve Helling