CURE Childhood Cancer’s Press On Fund Raising Bar to Fund Lifesaving Childhood Cancer Research
March 14th, 2011 by Stephen Chance
CURE Childhood Cancer’s Press On Fund Raising Bar to Fund
Lifesaving Childhood Cancer Research
For Immediate Release: March 1, 2011
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Atlanta, Georgia: The grassroots Press On Fund to Cure Childhood Cancer (“Press On”), a Named Fund of the 501(c)(3) CURE Childhood Cancer (“CURE”), is fulfilling its mission to find cures for two of the most fatal childhood cancers in our lifetime: neuroblastoma and acute myeloid leukemia (“AML”). Press On has invested $300,000 in lifesaving childhood cancer research in the first seven months of the 2010-2011 fiscal year: $100,000 to a neuroblastoma lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center which is developing a cutting edge neuroblastoma agent; $100,000 to a bone marrow transplantation lab at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital which is using NK cells to boost AML survival rates; and $100,000 to the Maris Lab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in connection with two additional neuroblastoma initiatives. Press On is in the process of identifying a second $100,000 AML/transplantation initiative for this fiscal year (July 1, 2010 – June 30, 2011).
Press On is busy raising awareness and donations to reach its goal of funding $500,000 in grants this fiscal year. Just seven and a half months into this fiscal year, Press On is over half way there.
A Time to Press On
What began as an outpouring of local support for Patrick Chance, a young boy with stage IV neuroblastoma, has become a national, even worldwide, movement since Press On’s mission was expanded to target AML research because of the Chances’ close relationship with Brennan Simkins, a young boy with AML, and his family. “As a fund spearheaded by two families with children fighting these two diseases, our supporters recognize the heartfelt sense of urgency and determination to invest in research designed to identify and treat very specific genetic mutations and cellular pathways to maximize tumor kill and minimize collateral damage. This idea is not new; our method of achieving it is,” says Stephen R. Chance, who along with his wife, Erin, co-founded Press On in 2006. Press On was the first Named Fund of CURE Childhood Cancer, a nonprofit organization founded in 1975 and dedicated to eradicating cancers affecting children.
As the Chance and Simkins families have learned the hard way, even fewer options are available for children with relapsed AML and neuroblastoma, and especially second relapsed patients like Patrick and Brennan. Through the initiative of these two families, both hailing from Augusta, Georgia, and both living on the front lines of childhood cancer, and the support and backing of CURE, Press On’s mission is to identify and fund novel and targeted therapies that are not currently available for neuroblastoma and AML, which have the poorest survival rates of all pediatric cancers. The lifelong effects of current treatments for these diseases can be equally as threatening.
Relatively small patient populations result in inadequate governmental funding, a lack of entrepreneurial incentive, and desperate, fractionated efforts by families of childhood cancer victims to find, fund, and implement “magic bullets” for children and families with no time to lose. “We are in a race to find a CURE for our children and all of their friends whom we have met along the way, and it is going to take nothing less than a national philanthropic effort to do just that,” believes Erin Chance. Uniquely, Press On’s 2010-2011 grants have been complemented by grants of other grassroots, parent-driven organizations, either with Press On’s leadership, or in one case, serendipitously.
Press On’s 2010-2011 Initiatives
In connection with its recent $100,000 research grant to Dr. Nai-Kong V. Cheung’s Neuroblastoma lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Press On collaborated with Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation, Inc.; the Band of Parents, Inc.; I Back Jack Foundation, Inc.; and Zev’s Fund, Inc. to fully fund the manufacture and development of an improved 3F8 monoclonal antibody to treat neuroblastoma. These groups joined together for a total three year commitment of $1,500,000. Press On’s $100,000 grant combined with Arms Wide Open’s contribution (including the $250,000 Arms Wide Open received from Pepsi’s Refresh grant) funded the first installment of the $1.5 million commitment.
Press On’s first AML initiative is a $100,000 grant issued to Dr. Wing H. Leung’s bone marrow transplantation lab at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Leung and his team of researchers have developed an NK cell (“Natural Killer Cell”) protocol giving doctors brand new tools with which to fight AML and prevent its return. Dr. Leung’s findings related to AML are important because relapse is a key reason AML cure rates lag behind other pediatric cancers. This work builds on earlier St. Jude research including how to match NK cell donors and recipients to ensure patients receive the most potent cancer-killing donor cells.
Cookies for Kids Cancer, another pediatric cancer fund founded by the parents of neuroblastoma warrior and angel, Liam Witt, recently funded a grant to Dr. Leung’s lab as well. St. Jude spends over $1,000,000 annually on Dr. Leung’s research.
Just last week, Press On funded $100,000 toward two neuroblastoma research projects headed by Dr. John Maris and his team of researchers at the Maris Laboratory of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. These neuroblastoma research projects involve: a new, targeted method of delivering radiation to bulky and even diffuse neuroblastoma cells without significant side effects; and a newly discovered neuroblastoma oncogene, LMO1.
Press on is cultivating opportunities for further collaboration now.
Press On’s Inspiration and Commitment to a Cure
“The inspiration for Press On is both profoundly tragic and profoundly praiseworthy,” says Stephen Chance, father of Patrick Chance, who is a two-time relapsed neuroblastoma patient living in Atlanta. “There is no more profound sense of urgency that that of parents fighting for the life of their child and for other children they know who suffer and too often die. Living this reality ‘on the front lines,’ our family, the Simkins’, and many other like-families must assume the role as the ‘general in the tent.’ Our government cannot legislate motivation, and private enterprise can’t generate profit where the market is less than profitable. But there are many people who understand that we are dealing with life-and-death consequences of children from the perspective which we can convey from the battle field. We will turn over every rock to identify the science that stands the best chance of curing our kids, and we will certainly open new doors which may extend their lives until a cure is found. Cancer has changed our lives forever, therefore, we will Press On until we find cures for these diseases in our lifetime,” says Chance.
“As a result of the honest, deep-seeded motivation of these two families,” says Turner Simkins, “we find that raising funds has involved little more than simply telling the story and facilitating critical mass. Our investors know that everything they invest with Press On will be directed to a new research initiative. Thanks to CURE’s commitment to each of its Named Funds, including Press On, we have no real overhead to deplete investment dollars, so we are able to look people in the eye and let them know that we are as serious and as efficient as we can be.”
“The donors of the Press On Fund enjoy the best of all worlds: the passion and specialized knowledge of two families who are fighting neuroblastoma and AML on the front lines and the strength and accountability of CURE, a long standing nonprofit organization,” remarks Kristin Connor, Executive Director of CURE. “We could not be more proud to be working in close partnership with the Simkins and Chance families.”
“With the tremendous power of an effective social media campaign through our family blogs and Facebook pages and groups, we have reached people around the world with our story,” says Tara Simkins. “The CarePages for Patrick and Brennan are at the core of it all,” she says, referring to the weekly blogs which outline the issues and struggles facing children with cancer and the multitude of difficult decisions facing parents. “Our blogs, reach over 5,000 readers and our Facebook pages reach roughly another 1,000, numbers which we hope to see grow with our new website and with collaborations with other pediatric cancer fundraising organizations like 12Bands.org, with which Press On was grateful to partner in a three city concert series in Atlanta, Augusta and Charlotte last year. 12Bands has a unique mission to spread awareness for childhood cancer through music. The 12Bands collaboration with Press On is an amazing tool allowing us to reach out to music fans across the country who may not otherwise be aware of Press On, CURE and our efforts to make a difference now.”
In the spirit of their organization’s moniker, the story of both Patrick Chance and Brennan Simkins represent stories of faith, hope, love and perseverance. “We have been told by many medical professionals that we have already done more than most families would do for their children, implying that palliative care for our sons is not an option to be ashamed of,” says Simkins. “We Press On, not in spite of this heartbreaking choice, but because of it. Brennan has recently endured an almost unprecedented fourth bone marrow transplant in 18 months which we believe cured his AML treatment-induced aplastic anemia, a stubborn virus and ultimately will prove to have cured his AML. He is a champion among warriors. Patrick is fighting to achieve a third remission, too, and is undergoing a treatment today that his family believed closed to him a year ago. As long as our children and the countless other warriors and angels we have met along the way must fight these diseases, and their treatments, we will be motivated to stay one step ahead of the curve. We believe that a cure is possible in our lifetime. Because of that, we Press On. And that we will do for the rest of our lives.”
Over and above the $300,000 funded thus far in 2010-2011, Press On plans to announce another $200,000 in grants before June 30, 2011.
For more information about Press On and to learn more about Patrick Chance and Brennan Simkins, log onto www.pressonfund.org.
For more information about CURE log onto www.curechildhoodcancer.org.
About CURE Childhood Cancer
CURE Childhood Cancer is dedicated to conquering childhood cancer through research, education and support of patients and their families. CURE believes that childhood cancer can be cured, and so it dedicates over half of its resources to research into cures and targeted therapies for children with cancer. CURE also supports children with cancer and their families and as well as the frontline caregivers of children with cancer through its innovative programs. Additionally, CURE funds training of future pediatric oncologists and researchers through the fellowship program at Emory University School of Medicine.
About Press On
The Press On to CURE Childhood Cancer Fund (formerly known as the Patrick R. Chance Fund for Neuroblastoma Research) (“Press On”) founded in 2006 by Stephen and Erin Chance was the first named fund under CURE Childhood Cancer’s 501(c)(3) non-profit umbrella. In 2009, the Chances invited Turner and Tara Simkins to join them in directing the fund which invests in medical research focused on novel and less toxic therapies for neuroblastoma and acute myeloid leukemia (“AML”), two deadly pediatric cancers.