NEW BRUNSWICK – Recognizing a great need to support pediatric cancer research, the Hugs for Brady Foundation has made a $100,000 commitment to fund the Hugs for Brady Young Investigator Award in pediatric hematology/oncology at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ). CINJ is a Center of Excellence of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
No one knows about this need better than Sherrie and Michael Wells, who founded Hugs for Brady shortly after the death of their child Brady Michael in July 2010, just three weeks shy of his second birthday. Brady was diagnosed with acute undifferentiated leukemia – considered a rare form of this disease — and had undergone both chemotherapy and a peripheral blood stem cell transplant.
After his passing, Brady’s parents knew they wanted to help ease the pain that many children and families experience with a cancer diagnosis and – just as important – provide resources to help advance pediatric cancer research. That is why, through Hugs for Brady, the Kendall Park couple established the Hugs for Brady Pediatric Young Investigator Award at CINJ.
“While Hugs for Brady is continually active in providing some of the comforts of home to pediatric cancer patients while they are undergoing treatment, we felt it was important to address behind-the-scenes needs as well,” noted Sherrie Wells. “What better way to make a difference than to directly provide scientists with the tools they need to bring us closer to a cure. This support serves as an investment both in the youngsters being treated today and in the children of tomorrow, who Michael and I hope never have to endure what Brady and so many other children and their families have.”
The award will provide a two-year grant to a young academic physician or scientist who shows exceptional ability and promise for doing innovative pediatric cancer research.
“Funding a young investigator helps foster creativity and a passion for the research at hand. It also allows for a certain level of continuity, as an investigator who becomes involved with a certain facet of scientific exploration early on in his or her career is more likely to remain devoted to that particular area of research, thus helping to bring about significant advances,” said CINJ’s interim Chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Richard Drachtman, MD, who was Brady’s doctor. “We are grateful to the Hugs for Brady Foundation for this support and its continued commitment to children, families, and the fight against pediatric cancer.”
Sherrie Wells says with more than 300 volunteers, the Hugs for Brady Foundation remains dedicated to its mission of bringing about awareness of pediatric cancer and providing such amenities as toys, televisions, food and other comforts of home to pediatric patients being treated at CINJ, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (CINJ’s Flagship Hospital), and at other area hospitals throughout central New Jersey. Hugs for Brady is currently preparing for a 5K family fun run to be held later this month – proceeds from which also will support the Young Investigator Award at CINJ. To learn more, visit: www.hugsforbrady.org.
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