Team Jack Raises Significant Awareness & Funds in Fall 2018

Team Jack Raises Significant Awareness & Funds in Fall 2018

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

With September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, many dedicate their social media posts, t-shirt choices, donations to helping raise awareness for childhood cancer. At Team Jack, we are no different. We do all those things to highlight the importance of raising funds for pediatric brain cancer research. We share the facts about the disease, facts like this: child brain cancer is the number one cancer cause of death in children, Nebraska’s incidence rate of child brain cancer cases is higher than the national average, and while almost 80% of kids that are diagnosed with a brain tumor survive, many of them will suffer forever due to the side-effects of their cancer treatment and surgeries.

While almost 80% of kids that are diagnosed with a brain tumor survive, many of them will suffer forever due to the side-effects of their cancer treatment and surgeries. 

Our focus at Team Jack is to fund ground-breaking research so that new treatments for kids can be developed; treatments that are less harsh and leave little to no side effects. Our hope is that one day this research will find a cure for pediatric brain cancer. During September and further into the fall, the Foundation participates and hosts various events to raise research funds and awareness. We couldn’t feel more grateful for the support shown to our cause this fall.

6th Annual Team Jack Radiothon Presented by The Home Agency

The 6th Annual Team Jack Radiothon Presented by The Home Agency featured countless stories of families affected by pediatric brain cancer and special guest interviews that humble us with their conviction to our cause. This event serves dual purpose, both raising significant funds for research as well as much needed awareness for the disease. The radiothon was broadcast across 23 radio stations throughout Nebraska, some reaching beyond the state lines. The interviews from the families tear at your heart as you hear the hardship these families and children go through. Listeners learned that a child being diagnosed with a brain tumor is a life-altering diagnosis and sometimes a life-ending diagnosis.

In addition to the family stories, we heard a dozen interviews with special guests like Dick Vitale, Rex Burkhead and Jack Sock. We continue to be so humbled by these special guests and their conviction to our cause. They continue to use their platform to help us raise awareness for pediatric brain cancer. To hear the family and special guest interviews in full, click here.

One of the most interesting interviews was that of Dr. Jonathan Schwartz. Dr. Schwartz is a pediatric neuro-oncologist and was hired this past summer at the University of Nebraska Medical Center as part of the Team Jack funded $3 million pediatric brain tumor program at UNMC. This type of specialist is one that has not been available for children in Nebraska until the hiring of Dr. Schwartz. In his interview he discussed the opportunities that will be available for kids seeking treatment in Omaha. “These are hard diagnoses, it’s not something that you can treat, take out for most families and be done, it’s something that will require after-treatments, years of follow-up and close observation and so now we have those mechanisms in place so that families can stay here and get top-notch quality care here in Nebraska, “ said Dr. Schwartz.

The support of the radiothon by donors nationwide is truly humbling. In addition, the radiothon is sponsored by The Home Agency and the Jim & Sharri Baldonado family, who not only provides monetary support, but staffs the majority of volunteers throughout the day. This year marked the fifth year that Jim, Sharri, his family and staff sponsored and volunteered at the radiothon.  Jim, Sharri and their family have been long time supporters of the Foundation and continue to participate in annual events as well as are always willing to help in any way possible.  On behalf of the Foundation and all kids fighting brain cancer, a special thank you to the Baldonado Family and their team at The Home Agency. 

The event was once again powered by Applied Connective Technologies for the 6th year in a row.  Team Jack has partnered with Applied Connective since their inception.  Each year for the radiothon, team members including Ed Knott, Will Zoucha and Tom Krings assist with pre-event set up as well as attend the radiothon on the day of to manage the phones.  The undertaking of producing the radiothon behind the scenes is a big task and we are forever grateful for the continued partnership of Applied Connective.

The radiothon was once again produced by Kevin Thomas, a volunteer, formerly a radio host for KLIN. For six years, Kevin has poured his heart into this event and we couldn’t be more thankful for his involvement.  He has gotten to know the families and their stories and continues to produce stories to share with a state-wide audience that tells the listeners what it is like to be a family affected by brain cancer.

It takes the hard work of many to raise such significant funds through an event like a radiothon. We are so proud that over six years, the Team Jack Radiothon has raised over $410,000 for pediatric brain cancer and an immeasurable amount of awareness for the disease. 

Huskers Pediatric Brain Tumor Awareness Game

The day after the radiothon began the Nebraska Football Pediatric Brain Cancer Awareness Festivities. Each fall the Huskers have hosted families affected by pediatric brain cancer for a special event with some of the team members and coaches on a pre-game day in September. The families then are invited to attend the Nebraska football game the following day. Prior to the game, a check is presented to pediatric brain cancer research from the proceeds of the Nebraska Football Road Race held each July. This year, the designated game was Nebraska vs. Purdue on 9/28/2018 and members of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha accepted the check in the amount of $30,230.14. Presenting the check was Samantha Cowger of UNL – Life Skills and members of the Lincoln Track Club, namely, Ray and Ann Ringlein. The Lincoln Track Club is the organizer of the Nebraska Football Road Race, a task not easily undertaken. We are truly grateful for the commitment of The Lincoln Track Club to our cause.

In addition to the game, Team Jack hosts the families for a tailgate party. This year approximately 25 families were in attendance, sharing stories, connecting with one another and just being friends. These friendships have been formed over time and are becoming increasingly stronger. Although these families may not have otherwise met, they find comfort in knowing they are not alone in their experiences of having a child with brain cancer, or worse, having lost a child to brain cancer. If the Foundation ever needed a reminder of why we fight so hard, this event is it. It seems that 4,600 children diagnosed with brain cancer each year nation-wide is not that many relative to the number of children in the United States. However, when you see the families at this gathering, all in one place, with their children, some whose children have passed, that is a powerful statement and renewed reason to press on. 4,600 children per year is too many; one child is too many. Team Jack will continue to work to raise funds to invest in laboratory research and clinical trials until this disease is a thing of the past.

Welcome Reception for Dr. Jonathan Schwartz

The last significant event of the fall season for Team Jack was much different, but equally as important as the others! On October 18th, Team Jack had the pleasure of hosting a welcome reception for Dr. Jonathan Schwartz, D.O., MSPH, Assistant Professor, Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, at the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha, Nebraska. While this was a celebration of the recent hiring of Nebraska’s first pediatric neuro-oncologist in Dr. Schwartz, there was much more to applaud. The excitement around the pediatric brain cancer program being formed in Omaha was evident. Not only has Dr. Schwartz been hired and is now seeing patients, Dr. Donald Durden was also introduced. Dr. Durden, a senior pediatric neuro-oncologist, will be the Chair of Pediatric Oncology at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center as well as the Director of Research of Computational Chemistry and Experimental Therapeutics. Dr. Durden is a research scientist and will work to create new childhood cancer treatments. For more on this exciting reception click here.

Every September, the Team Jack Foundation commemorates National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and spotlights how important raising funds and awareness for the disease is.  We are grateful for all those who help us do just that.  YOU are making a difference and giving kids hope. 

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