Two years ago, three months after losing McKenna, we sat down with some good friends around a kitchen table and made the decision to honor her by starting a foundation in her name.  At that point, the details were a little hazy.

We knew we wanted to fund research, but also wanted to involve the community that had supported us during her illness.  We wanted to help “shine a light” on the problem of pediatric brain cancer, but we also wanted to show how others “shine” when given the option to help.  Dave and I can honestly say we had no idea what we were getting into.  We were in a fog of grief and just knew we needed to move forward in a way that would help offer other children and families who were faced with the diagnosis of brain cancer.

Thanks to those amazing friends around that table, the foundation found its footing and gained traction.  The road has not been easy for any of us.  There have been struggles, frustrations, and misunderstandings.  But more importantly, there has been love, strength, and community that has blossomed from the depths of our despair.  This community has grown to include not just those who physically surround us in our hometown, but to others who have heard McKenna’s story and taken our little girl to heart.

From corporate partners like Chevron, whose patrons have embraced an unknown philanthropy, to the children holding lemonade stands in McKenna’s name, and everything in between, you all have done something amazing.

Because of you, over one million dollars has been raised for pediatric cancer in just two short years.  Of this, over $500,000 dollars has already been put into the hands of researchers who are making great strides in decoding the biology of DIPG and developing new, more effective treatments that may soon offer children more hope than they have ever had before.  Partnerships with established pediatric cancer foundations, such as St. Baldrick’s, have been formed in order to develop a prototype that allows smaller foundations to work together to crowd source funding for cures.  McKenna’s cell lines have been distributed to researchers world-wide to provide much needed material for in vitro and in vivo studies.  Because of the support you have provided, there are two scientific projects in Dr. Michelle Monje’s lab at Stanford University investigating the neurodevelopmental origins of DIPG and potential treatment strategies that are both in the process of publication.  As well, Dr. Monje and her lab are working collaboratively with DIPG researchers internationally who are sharing findings in order to expedite hope to those families who are currently told there is none.

None of this would be happening without you.  Whether you have contributed your money, your time, or your talent, we cannot adequately express our appreciation.  We are thankful that you remember our Macky.  She would be humbled, as we are, by the community that has embraced her.  We hope that you will continue with us on this journey, as there is still a long road to travel and so many children waiting for us to get to our destination – a cure.