MCALLEN, TX — The St. Baldrick’s Foundation , a volunteer-driven and donor-centered charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research , is proud to award a one-year infrastructure grant of $44,639 to Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children’s Cancer Clinic. The clinic has been a recipient of St. Baldrick’s infrastructure grants for the past four years, receiving a total of more than $230,000 to date.
Prior to the opening of the clinic in 2001, kids with cancer in this region lacked access to treatment locally. Instead, they had to travel to San Antonio or Houston for their treatment, a hardship physically, emotionally and financially for them and their families. Thanks to the Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children’s Clinic and funding from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to support the clinic’s infrastructure, that is no longer the case.
Ben Karam is one such child that has benefitted from the Clinic in McAllen. A typical 10-year-old, Ben loves sports and playing on his Xbox. No one would ever suspect that starting in May of 2012, Ben began chemotherapy treatment for leukemia. Ben’s mom, Liza, says that initially she planned to take her son to Houston, since she had undergone successful thyroid cancer treatment there. But that changed after she researched the Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children’s Cancer and Hematology Clinic and heard such positive feedback about the clinic and its medical director, Dr. Juan Carlos Bernini.
“Ben really loves Dr. Bernini and instantly bonded with him, and he just didn’t want to leave town for treatment,” said Liza. “It made all the difference in the world to have the support of family and friends right here in McAllen.”
“When I first went to meet Rio Grande Valley residents, I was struck by the significant need for pediatric oncology clinical services in the region,” said Dr. David Poplack, director of the Texas Children’s Cancer Center. “We worked with the Vannie E. Cook Foundation there to develop a childhood cancer clinic, which is a wonderfully modern clinic that has seen more than 7,000 patients, the majority of who come from low-income families, who now have the same excellent chance at survival that other children have nationwide.”
The clinic was created through a joint effort of the Vannie E. Cook Jr. Cancer Foundation Inc., Baylor College of Medicine and the Texas Children’s Cancer Center. Its goal is to ensure that local children who suffer from cancer and blood diseases receive the most up-to-date care and treatment without the need to leave the region.
Since 2009, doctors, nurses, families, and others from the Vannie E. Cook clinic, have supported the local St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event in Pharr, Texas by shaving their heads, volunteering their time, serving as an emcee and spreading the word. This year’s event raised more than $20,000 to support childhood cancer research.
To locate or organize an event or Do What You Want fundraiser in your community, sign-up to shave, donate or volunteer, visit www.StBaldricks.org . Also become a fan on Facebook , follow us on Twitter , and visit the Foundation’s YouTube  and Vimeo  channels.
About St. Baldrick’s Foundation
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives. St. Baldrick’s coordinates its signature head-shaving events worldwide where participants collect pledges to shave their heads in solidarity with kids with cancer, raising money to fund research. Since 2005, St. Baldrick’s has awarded more than $127 million to support lifesaving research, making the Foundation the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants. St. Baldrick’s funds are granted to some of the most brilliant childhood cancer research experts in the world and to younger professionals who will be the experts of tomorrow. Funds awarded also enable hundreds of local institutions to participate in national pediatric cancer clinical trials, and the new International Scholar grants train researchers to work in developing countries. For more information about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation please call 1.888.899.BALD or visit www.StBaldricks.org .