The V Foundation for Cancer Research, one of the nation’s leading cancer research funding organizations, is pleased to observe Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month this September. Since its inception, The V Foundation has awarded nearly $20 million in pediatric cancer research grants, including almost $5 million in 2015, and the Foundation is expected to increase its contributions to the fight against childhood cancer by developing new and extended partnerships. With just four percent of federal cancer research funding dedicated to pediatric cancer, The V Foundation is eager to make a significant impact in finding cures for the leading cause of death by disease in American children.
“Childhood cancer affects everyone, from the child diagnosed to family to community to us as a society,” said Susan Braun, CEO of The V Foundation. “Each child we lose is heartbreak, and each child we save is victory. The V Foundation is going for victory!”
Though survival rates for most childhood cancers have recently improved, 12,000-15,000 children are newly diagnosed with cancer each year, and pediatric cancer research remains significantly underfunded. While some childhood cancer survival rates have dramatically improved, others remain very low. For example, per the National Cancer Institute, survival for children with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma is less than one year from diagnosis. Nearly 2,000 children die of cancer each year in the United States, inspiring The V Foundation and its partners in their work to end the dreaded disease.
“The V Foundation’s dedication to the field of pediatric cancer continues to have a profound impact. We know 8-10% of children with cancer carry a heritable genetic change predisposing them to cancer,” said Dr. Michael Walsh, a V Foundation grant recipient, studying childhood leukemia through a grant funded by the 2015 Dick Vitale Gala. “With this understanding and the V Foundation’s support, our field is now more than ever in a position to partake in research that impacts the entire family in regard to both treatment and prevention.”
The V Foundation’s increased commitment to pediatric cancer research is championed by the efforts of its longtime Board Member and ESPN Hall of Fame Sportscaster Dick Vitale. Earlier this year, the 11th Annual Dick Vitale Gala raised a record-breaking $2.8 million for pediatric cancer research, pushing the event’s fundraising total to more than $18 million since its inception. The recently announced John Saunders Grant for Pediatric Cancer Research, named in loving remembrance of the Foundation’s founding board member and emcee of the annual Gala, will be a featured component of the 2017 event in May. In addition to his tireless work hosting the Gala, Vitale also finds new ways for others to get involved. After attending the 2016 Dick Vitale Gala, San Francisco Giants’ all-star catcher Buster Posey and his wife Kristen were inspired to co-host a fundraiser in September at AT&T Park benefitting pediatric cancer research through The V Foundation.
The V Foundation has also teamed up with WWE this year, launching a multi-year partnership with Connor’s Cure. Founded by WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon and WWE Executive Vice President Talent, Live Events & Creative Paul “Triple H” Levesque, Connor’s Cure was established in honor of an 8-year-old WWE fan, Connor Michalek, who battled medulloblastoma, a rare tumor that affects the brain and spinal cord. As a result of the new partnership, funds raised by WWE and Connor’s Cure will support pediatric cancer research at institutions nationwide.