By Karen Garlochkgarloch@charlotteobserver.com
A coalition of eight philanthropic organizations and families have committed to raise $5.7 million to create a pediatric cancer research center at Levine Children’s Hospital at Carolinas Medical Center.
The gift will allow the hospital to offer experimental drug treatments to children with a variety of recurrent cancers. The children would otherwise have to travel to other centers, usually out of state, for treatment.
The Leon Levine Foundation, whose $10 million gift helped build the two-year-old children’s hospital, launched the effort with a gift of $2 million. The second-largest gift is $1 million from the Alex Hemby Foundation and the family of the late Torrence and Hilda Hemby. The Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Center will be named in honor of Torrence Hemby, and an endowed fund will be created in his memory.
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Other commitments are: $500,000 from the Adam Faulk Tanksley Foundation; $300,000 from the Baby J Ladley Fund; $300,000 from the Quail Hollow Championship; $250,000 from drumSTRONG; $250,000 from Brett’s Ride for Rhabdo; and $250,000 from 24 Hours of Booty.
Levine Children’s Hospital began offering its first two Phase I drug trials in December for patients with recurrent leukemia or neuroblastoma. Four patients are already enrolled, including one who is seeing an “excellent response,” according to Dr. Javier Oesterheld, director of developmental therapeutics.
Representatives from all donor groups filled the audience at Levine Children’s Hospital for Tuesday morning’s announcement. Bevie Hemby, one of three daughters of Torrence and Hilda Hemby, said her family wanted to honor her father, who died in 2008. “It would make him smile to know that these children can stay in their own hometown and get care in the hospital that he always believed in,” she said.