Continuing their support in the fight against pediatric cancer, Stop Children’s Cancer, Inc. has renewed a $1 million gift to the University of Florida College of Medicine division of pediatric hematology/oncology. This contribution will fuel research innovations in therapies and treatments aimed at improving outcomes for children facing cancer.
One researcher leading the fight is UF Health pediatric oncologist Elias Sayour M.D., Ph.D., holder of the Stop Children’s Cancer/Bonnie R. Freeman Professorship for Pediatric Oncology Research chair. Sayour and his team are investigating new nanotechnology vaccines to reprogram the immune system against cancer cells. Their focus is on personalized nanoparticles, designed to educate the immune system to reject pediatric cancer and presents a transformative approach to the fight against this disease. Their work, alongside other pioneering efforts, highlights the cutting-edge advancements taking place at UF.
“In the field of pediatric immunotherapy, meaningful progress has been made with new agents like CAR T-cells and rituximab, a type of antibody therapy that can be used alone or with chemotherapy,” said Dr. Sayour. “UF provides a unique opportunity to develop and trial these agents individually and in combinations.”
Cancer is the number one cause of death by disease in children in the United States. Sayour added that the work that is discovered and developed at UF is helping to treat children with pediatric cancer across the world.
Stop Children’s Cancer is a local nonprofit organization committed to the prevention, control and cure of childhood cancers. The organization was founded in 1981 by Bonnie R. Freeman, her parents Howard and Laurel, and her sister Carolyne. Bonnie told her family that her goal was to raise $1 million to fight childhood cancers, so that other children and families wouldn’t have to suffer.
“With this continued additional gift, our hopes are that more children have the ability to become healthy,” Howard Freeman said.
When Bonnie was diagnosed with leukemia, she had a 35% chance of living for five years. Today, children with that same diagnosis have a 90% cure rate, according to the UF College of Medicine department of pediatrics division of hematology/oncology division chief, William Slayton, M.D.
“Bonnie inspired us so much the way she understood the reality of where she was at,” Laurel Freeman said. “She was determined to live every day to the fullest and that really motivated us.”
Sadly, Bonnie died in 1983 at age 12.
Bonnie’s legacy endures through the organization’s tireless efforts. In the 42+ year history of Stop Children’s Cancer, over $7 million has been contributed for pediatric cancer research, helping to double the number of physicians in clinical trials and boosting cure rates. As a result of the organization’s early donations of seed money to UF, more than $23 million in funding has been secured by doctors and researchers.
“Stop Children’s Cancer started as the heartfelt response of a 10-year-old diagnosed with cancer. It’s one of the purest, altruistic charities, driven by a dream to spare other families the challenges we faced,” Carolyne Freeman said. “The culture of giving can be seen throughout every part of Stop Children’s Cancer from the board to our sponsors, to our volunteers. Whether contributing financially or with time, it’s a meaningful investment and it’s making an impact in the world. We truly hope childhood cancer becomes a disease of the past.”
Your gift will support cancer research and clinical trials in the UF College of Medicine division of hematology and oncology