Monday, September 22, 2014

#BTFBenefit2014 and the Number 10

#BTFBenefit2014 and the Number 10

Reba, Gregg, Lynora, Daniel, me, Jim & Caroline
Something absolutely wonderful happened on Friday evening. We gathered with friends and family among 1,700 people to celebrate the tremendous achievements of the Ben Towne Foundation's first five years in existence.
Reba and Bill
Two members of the TEAM BTF Ride Across America Team
In the space of 10 minutes, over $1,600,000 was raised to support childhood cancer research at the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research, with the help of Joel McHale, who hosted and kept us all laughing.
Reba, Joel and me
As always, Carin and Jeff Towne and Dr. Michael Jensen spoke movingly, beautifully and with passion about their mission. A brief video shared the story of one of the most recent recipients of Dr. Jensen's T-cell therapy.

In addition to the wonderful sum raised that night, we celebrated these milestones:
- two clinical trials were launched for T-cell treatment of leukemia
- a third clinical trial is ready for submission, for the treatment of neuroblastoma
- 10 PATIENTS ARE IN REMISSION! Stop right there. 
 Ten patients who had experienced relapse, who had no other treatment options - whose hope for a cure was completely exhausted, and were facing death - those ten children are now in remission.

Ten families are not heartbroken today - parents, siblings, extended family and community - have their precious, beloved child with them. Ten families did not have to sign "do not resuscitate" forms, did not have to request hospice care, did not have to plan a memorial service, pick a headstone, face an empty bedroom.


I was so happy Friday night that I could not go to sleep.

In no way does this great accomplishment reduce the pain of missing Katie, or change the fact of her absence in our home, our lives and and in our future. And yet...
And yet, for me, this is a kind of justice for her killer. This is arresting the culprit. This is going to prevent this tragedy from being repeated, over and over again.

Not only that, but T-Cell treatment does not endanger the future life of the patient, because it does not cause organ damage, reproductive damage, hearing loss or secondary cancers, the way that traditional chemotherapy and radiation do. This treatment uses the body's own immune system to heal itself, and the possibilities for its use are endless.

With research, it can be applied to different kinds of cancer, and to adults, as well as to children. All we need to do is continue to find funding for the work to continue and expand.

Tonight, some parent who thought their child was going to die, is instead going to tuck her into bed, and kiss and hug her "good night." It won't be me and my daughter, yet I am happy for that family - for all ten of those families who have received this gift from Dr. Michael Jensen and his research team at the Ben Towne Center. We will continue to support this work through the Katie Gerstenberger Endowment for Cancer Research, and through the Ben Towne Foundation, and in any other way we can.
My friend Lynora and her son Daniel came all the way from Alaska to join us!
Lynora, Reba and me - as Reba says, "Mothers in Arms"
I am asking you to help us spread the word about this, and - if you are able - to join us in supporting it. 

100% of every penny and dollar which you donate to the Ben Towne Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research goes to research. There is not one cent of overhead cost deducted from your donation; every bit goes to funding research. Please share this happy news with your community, and join us! As Ben used to say, "Come on, everybody!"

*if you are an Instagram user, you can see more photos of the event at #BTFBenefit2014


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