Heights families to raise money for children's cancer research in Sept. 29 CureSearch Walk

On Saturday, Sept. 29 at 9 a.m., hundreds will gather at Wade Oval Park in University Circle for the CureSearch Walk to celebrate and honor children from across Northeast Ohio who have or have had cancer, while raising money for CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, a national nonprofit which funds children’s cancer research.

The walk is spearheaded by co-chairs Stephen Crowley and Cynthia Van Lenten of Cleveland Heights, and Greg Plautz, M.D., of Shaker Heights. Plautz is chair of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at the Cleveland Clinic.

Crowley and Van Lenten became involved in CureSearch after losing their oldest daughter, Olivia, who died in 2005 at the age of 10, after a courageous battle with cancer.

Krissy and Mark Gallagher, also of Cleveland Heights, are participating in the Walk for their five-year-old son Austin, a two-time survivor of kidney cancer. “Austin has lost his entire right kidney and half of his left to cancer,” explained Krissy. “He’s had 10 surgeries, 13 months of chemotherapy, 12 rounds of radiation, and has spent hundreds of nights in the hospital. Despite all that, he’s one of the lucky ones. Because he’s alive. Until we can say that for all children diagnosed with cancer, our work is not done.”

Funds raised through events such as the CureSearch Walk allow children with cancer to receive world-class treatment and care at hospitals close to home such as Akron Children’s Hospital, Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic. These hospitals are all members of the Children’s Oncology Group, the nation’s largest children’s cancer research collaborative.

Music, face painting and costume characters are some of the activities for children of all ages that will take place before the walk gets underway. At the opening ceremonies, hosted by Joe Pagonakis of WEWS TV/NewsNet 5, past and present children’s cancer patients will be honored on stage as CureSearch heroes during a medal ceremony, which follows a balloon release to reflect and remember children who lost their battle with cancer.

“Each day in America, 36 children—with an average age of six—are diagnosed with cancer,” said Crowley. “The CureSearch Walk brings the community together to support local children and their families impacted by this dreaded disease, while raising funds for lifesaving research that will impact children all across the U.S.”

September is National Children’s Cancer Awareness Month. Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children. By working collaboratively, children’s cancer researchers have improved cure rates for children’s cancer at a pace much faster than any one individual or single institution could accomplish alone—from a 10 percent cure rate 40 years ago to 80 percent overall today.

“Progress has been made in children’s cancer research over the years, but more money is needed to fund research to develop new and improved treatment options for the more than 40,000 children undergoing cancer treatment, and the 13,500 children diagnosed, each year,” said Erica Neufeld, vice president at CureSearch for Children’s Cancer. “We must rely on private citizens to help us raise every possible dollar for children’s cancer research, and we hope the people of Northeast Ohio will join the CureSearch Walk to support our efforts.”

To register for the CureSearch Walk - Northeast Ohio, visit www.curesearchwalk.org.

Stephen Crowley & Cynthia Van Lenten

Steve Crowley and Cynthia Van Lenten are longtime Heights residents, where they live with their daughter Anna. Steve is professor of politics at Oberlin College, and Cynthia is communications coordinator at Ruffing Montessori School.

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Volume 5, Issue 10, Posted 10:38 AM, 09.11.2012