About the McKenna Claire Foundation
Shine a Light. Grow a Community. Pay It Forward.
Cure pediatric brain cancer by raising awareness, increasing community involvement and funding research.
We envision a world shining with possibility and free of pediatric brain cancer; where families can remain whole and little dreams can become big realities. We believe that through our efforts, through the good in individuals in our local and global community, and through the brilliance, collaboration, and hard work of focused scientists—we can make a difference in the world and we can change the lives of other families who are hurt by this terrible disease.
McKenna (Macky), a vivacious, seemingly healthy, 7-year-old from Huntington Beach was suddenly diagnosed with a rare, inoperable brain stem tumor called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). DIPG tumors, like many pediatric brain tumors, have very low survival rates. In July 2011, McKenna Claire lost her battle with cancer just six months after diagnosis. (Learn more about Macky’s story here.)
The impact that McKenna had on the world was evident from the out-pouring of support her family received from so many during her illness. Her family’s desire to honor McKenna’s legacy and to perpetuate the sense of community that lifted them during their darkest time moved them to action. With the help of talented and gracious friends, the McKenna Claire Foundation was born.
During McKenna’s illness McKenna’s parents, Dave and Kristine Wetzel, interacted with doctors and researchers who were committed to the fight against pediatric cancer and its challenges. When McKenna died, the Wetzels arranged for her brain tumor tissue (along with her brain and spinal cord) to be donated to researchers at Stanford University who are on the cutting edge of pediatric brain cancer and DIPG research. It is their hope that their donation along with the McKenna Claire Foundation’s efforts will help to enable advances in the treatment of pediatric brain cancer and ultimately discover a cure.
The McKenna Claire Foundation is a fiscally sponsored project of OneOC.
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Dave and Kristine Wetzel, co-founders and McKenna’s parents
Dave and Kristine Wetzel, Co-Founders and McKenna’s parents, established the McKenna Claire Foundation in honor of their daughter, McKenna (Macky) Claire Wetzel, who died from Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) at age 7 in July of 2011. (Learn more about Macky’s story here.)
Dave, Kristine, their daughter, Jordan, and their dog, Keiki, live in Southern California.