Heroes needed to support childhood cancer research

| 11/07/2016
CNS Local Life

Cayman’s childhood cancer survivors (L-R, back row) Tayden Grant and Charli Foster; (L-R, front row) Beau Shields, Hannah Meeson, Annabelle Reading and Skylar “Mimi” Ebanks

(CNS): The fourth annual Hannah’s Heroes fundraiser is set for 23 September during childhood cancer awareness month. Organisers of the event are encouraging members of the community to come out to shave their heads to raise funds for the St Baldrick’s Foundation to support childhood cancer research. Once again, the venue will be the Wicket in Cricket Square.

Gaylene and Nigel Meeson conceived of the event to raise awareness about childhood cancer. In 2012 their daughter Hannah was diagnosed with anaplastic medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer.

“As a parent of a child with cancer there are moments that you are overwhelmed by helplessness and despair and the desperate need to do something, anything, to help find a cure,” Gaylene Meeson said.  “All childhood cancers combined receive only 4% of US federal funding for cancer research so without vital research funded by organisations like St Baldrick’s, Hannah and children like her simply will not survive. All children deserve to grow up and realise their full potential and it’s something that most families take for granted.”

Following the success of the first shave event in September 2013, the Meesons established “Hannah’s Heroes”, a hero fund of the St Baldrick’s Foundation in honour of all children in the Cayman Islands battling cancer.  Since that first event, Hannah’s Heroes has raised US$1,027,441 for childhood cancer research.

Other childhood cancer survivors in Cayman are also involved in helping raise funds and awareness, including Skylar “Mimi” Ebanks (3 years old),  Annabelle Reading (5), Beau Shields (4) , Tayden Grant (8) and Charli Foster (8). As there is no treatment available for childhood cancer in the Cayman Islands, it is necessary for all the youngsters to travel frequently to the US for treatments and check ups.

“St Baldrick’s mission is to fund research to find cures for childhood cancer and our family is in desperate need of a cure,” said Mimi’s mother, Mechon Evangelista-Ebanks. “St Baldrick’s gives children and families hope and the best chance of survival. St Baldrick’s only fund childhood cancer research and they do it really well and by supporting them together we can make a real difference to the lives of all kids fighting cancer. ” Mimi was diagnosed at six weeks old with ependymoma, a type of brain cancer.

The event annually attracts supporters from throughout the Cayman community, with shavees including the families of childhood cancer survivors, children and MLAs and professional service firms. The Cayman Islands Fire Service team, “The Firebalds”, will shave again this September in honour of Dimitrie Connor, the grandson of firefighter Henry Solomon. Dimitrie lost his battle to a rare brain stem tumor, pontine gloma, in 2013 at 15 years old.

Prospect Primary School student, 7-year-old Olly Thorpe, will also get her head shaved again. Inspired by her friend Hannah’s courage, Olly shaved in 2015 and is back this year to continue her advocacy for childhood cancer research.

“I am shaving again because I need to help other kids, not just Hannah, because they still haven’t cured cancer yet and if everyone just shaves once the money will run out,” she said.

The cancer parents of Hannah’s Heroes have all very moved by the outpouring of help and support, said Gaylene Meeson. “Community support has been overwhelming. We are simply blown away by Cayman taking this cause to its heart, from school bake sales and children donating their pocket money through to others’ endurance running and, of course, the many supporters who have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars by shaving; it is so inspiring to see such a huge cross section of Cayman united to raise funds for life-saving research. We can’t wait to return to the Wicket this September and stand united with others in the fight against childhood cancer.”

To donate to the St Baldrick’s Foundation or learn more about the fourth annual Hannah’s Heroes Shave visit the St Baldrick’s Foundation website or Hannah’s Heroes Facebook page, or email Hannah’s Heroes

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Category: Community, Donations

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