LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven and donor-centered charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research, proudly announces its five 2014 Ambassadors who represent the more than 175,000 kids worldwide diagnosed with childhood cancer each year. St. Baldrick’s Ambassadors serve as the faces and voices of the Foundation throughout the year and are a constant reminder of the critical need to fund research to conquer all childhood cancers and provide survivors with long, healthy lives.
“I appreciate my family more and value our time together.”
The Foundation’s Ambassadors highlight children and young adults from across the nation, with different backgrounds, ages, disease types and treatment statuses; their diversity serves as a reminder that childhood cancers don’t discriminate. The five Ambassadors include four who have completed treatment or are fighting the disease and one who has passed away, representing the startling reality that one in five kids diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. will not survive. This year, the Ambassadors and their families will attend St. Baldrick’s signature head-shaving events and “Do What You Want” fundraisers, special ceremonies and other activities where they will talk with media, volunteers, shaveesSM, donors and researchers.
Hayden Fife, 5, from Sullivan, Mo., was diagnosed with pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia just five days shy of his fourth birthday. He was a happy, carefree 3-year-old who loved swimming and fishing in rivers, but his cancer diagnosis forced him to grow up fast. Hayden proudly learned to swallow pills so he no longer had to taste the “yucky” cancer medicine. “He has a take-control approach towards his care,” his mom says, and he never fails to question the purpose of every medication, procedure, or change to his treatment plan. He suffers from neuropathy and joint pain from the chemotherapy, making it hard for him to walk for long periods of time, but that doesn’t stop Hayden from running after, or away from, his younger twin brothers. When Hayden isn’t at the hospital, he enjoys playing baseball, building forts with his grandmother and helping on the family farm, especially if it involves riding on the tractor with his dad. Hayden’s whole family looks forward to February 2016, when he will complete his cancer treatment. Then, Hayden wants to focus all of his energy not on fighting cancer but on his next greatest feat: becoming Batman.
Alan Sanders, forever 5, from San Antonio, Texas, was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma in his hip at 17 months old. His family called him “Mr. Cheeks” for the frequent, easy smiles that stretched across his face. He was such an active, engaged child that it was hard to keep him occupied during long hospital stays. Alan loved reading, learning, and exploring, but most of all, he loved numbers – counting them, adding them, punching them into his calculator, pressing them on the elevator. Alan couldn’t wait to go to school like his big brother and when his first day of preschool finally arrived, he cried when it was time to go home. Alan passed away on January 17, 2013, after battling cancer for most of his life. Alan’s parents vowed to continue the fight through the Hero Fund they established at St. Baldrick’s in his name. Alan’s memory continues to remind us of the need for research so no child, teen or young adult will have to suffer and have their promising futures stolen.
Harlem Clemons, 7, from Oakland, Calif., was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma at 5 years old. Harlem’s parents always knew he was tough, but even they were shocked by his undaunted strength during round after round of chemotherapy. The doctors warned them that he would lose hair, weight and energy as side effects from the drugs he was taking, but throughout those six months, Harlem remained just as strong and lively as ever. Today, he is in second grade at a bilingual school, where the majority of his lessons are in French, and he is a powerhouse on both the track and soccer field. Like many kids his age, Harlem’s favorite time of the year is Christmas. But Harlem and his family are now celebrating a new holiday: December 27, the day Harlem’s doctors told him he was cancer free.
Grace Carey, 11, from Providence, R.I., was diagnosed with medulloblastoma at 5 years old. She had surgery to remove the brain tumor, followed by high-intensity radiation and nine months of chemotherapy. When Grace’s mom explained that she was going to lose the fiery red hair that had always gotten so much attention, Grace treated it as a new adventure. Her mom puts it simply: “Grace is Grace.” Grace is now 11 and cancer free. Her iconic hair has grown back, but she still deals with the long-term effects of her cancer treatment, including hearing loss, cataracts, and growth issues. Her teachers say she’s a bright, creative student who has overcome many obstacles on her way to a promising future. Grace loves animals and wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up – as well as a firefighter, a hairstylist and a mom.
Lauren Bendesky, 16, from Coral Springs, Fla., was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma when she was 14 years old. While most girls her age were concerned with boys, hair and the latest fashion, Lauren’s cancer diagnosis made her realize what really matters. “Life has become more precious,” Lauren says. “I appreciate my family more and value our time together.” Lauren spent more than half of the last year in the hospital, but was determined to stay on track with her studies, taking online classes and completing the coursework from her hospital bed. Now a junior in high school, Lauren has finished treatment and is looking ahead to a bright future. She plans to study biology in college and go on to medical school to become a pediatric oncologist, where she will devote her career both to the treatment of kids with cancer and to the research to find cures.
In 2013, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation funded nearly $25 million in grants, made possible by more than 1,300 events, shaving more than 58,000 heads.
Help make 2014 even bigger! To locate or organize an event or Do What You Want fundraiser in your community, sign-up to shave, donate or volunteer, visit StBaldricks.org. Also become a fan on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and visit the Foundation’s YouTube and Vimeo channels.
About St. Baldrick’s Foundation
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives. St. Baldrick’s coordinates its signature head-shaving events worldwide where participants collect pledges to shave their heads in solidarity with kids with cancer, raising money to fund research. Since 2005, St. Baldrick’s has awarded more than $127 million to support lifesaving research, making the Foundation the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants. St. Baldrick’s funds are granted to some of the most brilliant childhood cancer research experts in the world and to younger professionals who will be the experts of tomorrow. Funds awarded also enable hundreds of local institutions to participate in national pediatric cancer clinical trials, and the new International Scholar grants train researchers to work in developing countries. For more information about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, please call 1.888.899.BALD or visit www.StBaldricks.org.
For St. Baldrick’s Foundation
Jayme Owen, 919-334-3779
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