TeamConnor announces new cancer funding: Organization raised $1.1 million since inception
When Connor Cruse died of neuroblastoma on July 10, 2009, his friends and family didn't give up fighting for children with cancer.
TeamConnor, a nonprofit organization founded in Connor's name to help fund childhood cancer research and related programs, has announced it's provided $1.1 million in funding since its inception in 2008, including $320,000 last year.
One of those programs is an art therapy program for stem cell transplant patients at Children's Medical Center of Dallas, which received a $20,000 grant from TeamConnor.
Shay Allen, a spokeswoman for the organization, said the grant will help stem cell transplant patients stay positive and give them something to do in their downtime.
"[This funding] supports a specialized art program for stem cell transplant patients," she said. "Kids who are in the stem cell transplant unit often have limited or no contact with their family because their immune system is so compromised. It can help combat a bad day at the hospital or make a good day even better."
Lori Waggoner, director of development at Children's Medical Center Dallas, said the funding has allowed the hospital to buy enough supplies that art boxes can be individually customized for children.
A 2-year-old who loves making art with his mom, for instance, could be given an art box with play dough and finger painting supplies, while an older child could be given Legos and coloring pencils.
"The Cruse family spent a lot of time in the hospital, and they know first-hand what it's like to have a child hospitalized for a long period of time," Waggoner said. "This touches so many families who have been through the kinds of things the Cruses have been through."
Allen added that funding the program is different from the research projects the organization helps in that there's a visible immediate impact.
"We're focused on funding research projects and critical projects that will help cure cancer as well as those that will help impact children directly -- those that will help within a year," she said. "The hard thing about that is you don't always see the fruits of your labor immediately. With research you don't always see an immediate response, but with this program you see an immediate impact."
Besides that grant, TeamConnor also awarded research grants of $100,000 to Dr. Nabil Ahmed with Texas Children's Hospital in Houston; $100,000 to Dr. Andreas Lacko with Cook Children's Health Care Systems in Fort Worth, $60,000 to Dr. Rachid Drissi of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center; and $60,000 to Dr. Ernesto Diaz-Flores of the University of California San Francisco San Benioff Children's Hospital.