St. Baldricks Foundation Announces 2018 Ambassadors to Serve as Voice and Face of Childhood Cancer

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Kids and families will raise awareness of the critical need for childhood cancer research

LOS ANGELES (January 3, 2018) – Childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of children in the U.S. This is why the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, has a mission to take childhood back from cancer. Representing the more than 300,000 kids diagnosed each year worldwide, St. Baldrick’s has chosen its five 2018 Ambassadors. Uniting under the same cause – to find better treatments and cures for childhood cancers – St. Baldrick’s Ambassadors and their families will act as spokespeople for the Foundation in 2018. They will attend fundraising events and provide the public with an in-depth look into their lives for a year, helping raise awareness for the critical need of childhood cancer research.

St. Baldrick’s Ambassadors serve as a reminder that childhood cancers don’t discriminate and that one in five kids diagnosed in the U.S. will not survive. They represent a variety of ages, disease types, geographic locations and stages of their journey with cancer. Their common ground is in the desire for cures and less toxic treatments.

Brooks Blackmore, forever 6, from Carmel, Ind., was known for having bravery beyond his years and a faith that never faltered, even when he was diagnosed with two, stage 4 inoperable anaplastic astrocytomas at the age of 5. After fighting for nearly a year – enduring radiation, surgery, therapy and medicine – the cancer took his life, but Brooks’ legacy lives on. In honor of their son, his family created a St. Baldrick’s Hero Fund, the “Be Brooks Brave” High Grade Glioma Research Fund, to raise money for the most promising childhood cancer research.

Maya Gladhart, 8, from Shoreline, Wash., was diagnosed with a kidney tumor one month before her 7th birthday, beginning chemotherapy just weeks later. Now a year later, “Mighty Maya” has lived up to her nickname, having prevailed in the fight against cancer with ferocity and major support from her family, friends and classmates. Today, she shows no evidence of disease and spends her time participating in the Girl Scouts, adventuring to waterfalls and hiking trails with her family.

Kellan Tilton, 5, from Detroit, Maine, was diagnosed with stage 3 neuroblastoma with secondary paralysis the day he was born, starting chemotherapy on the third day of his life to remove the large masses on his spine and abdomen. After four rounds of treatment and an extensive, lengthy surgery to remove the tumor at only 3 months old, Kellan was declared no evidence of disease (NED), but cancer had already permanently left its mark, leaving Kellan paralyzed from the waist down. Despite the odds, Kellan has passed the five-year milestone of being NED and stays busy by skiing, fishing and adaptive climbing.

Julia Alexander, 11, from Manassas, Va., was diagnosed with a grade II ependymoma in her brain when she was 8 years old. After bravely enduring eight surgeries, eight rounds of chemotherapy and two months of radiation, her tumor has remained stable. Although the tumor is still present she has bounced back to doing the things she loves best – singing, dancing, playing the ukulele and serving as a Cadette Girl Scout.

Zach Swart, 16, from Saugerties, N.Y., was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at 6 years old. Faced with limited treatment options after his most recent relapse, Zach decided to go on a clinical trial led by a St. Baldrick’s-funded researcher where Zach’s own immune cells were reengineered to attach the cancer. This prepared his body for a bone marrow transplant from a perfectly matched donor, his brother. As a three-time cancer survivor, Zach is excited to get back to the things he loves such as fishing, swimming and playing with his new puppy, Buddy.

About St. Baldrick’s Foundation

As the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation believes that kids are special and deserve to be treated that way. St. Baldrick’s is leading the charge to take childhood back from cancer by funding some of the most brilliant childhood cancer research experts who are working to find cures and better treatments for all childhood cancers. Kids need treatments as unique as they are – and that starts with funding research just for them. Join us at StBaldricks.org to help support the best cancer treatments for kids.

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