The St. Baldrick's Foundation, a volunteer-driven and donor-centered charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research, proudly announces its five 2013 Ambassadors who represent the 175,000 kids worldwide affected by childhood cancer each year. St. Baldrick's Ambassadors serve as the faces and voices of the Foundation throughout the year and are a constant reminder of the critical need to fund research to conquer all childhood cancers to provide survivors with long, healthy lives.
The Foundation's Ambassadors represent children and young adults from across the nation, with different backgrounds, ages, disease types and treatment statuses; their diversity serves as a reminder that childhood cancers don't discriminate. The five Ambassadors include four who have completed treatment or are fighting the disease and one who has passed away, representing the startling reality that one in five kids diagnosed in the U.S. will not survive. This year, the Ambassadors and their families will attend St. Baldrick's signature head-shaving events, special ceremonies and other activities where they will talk with media, volunteers, shavees, donors and researchers.
Matthias Vescelus, 4, from Noblesville, Ind., was diagnosed at just three months old with bilateral retinoblastoma which is a form of pediatric eye cancer caused by a genetic mutation. He spent the majority of his first year fighting for his life and enduring six months of chemotherapy treatments. Despite doctors' best efforts, Matthias ultimately lost his eyes to the cancer. Today, Matthias is cancer free and hasn't let being blind hold him back from attending preschool and going on adventures with his older brother. He is a fun-loving, smart, goofy kid who enjoys swimming, climbing, riding his tricycle and is learning to play the piano. Although Matthias is cancer free, he will be under the care of an oncologist for the rest of his life because he is predisposed to developing other cancers.
Luke Fochtman, 7, from Lansing, Mich., was diagnosed with an advanced stage of embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that attacks the muscles, when he was three years old. Luke underwent nearly 70 weeks of aggressive treatments, including multiple rounds of chemotherapy and daily radiation. Despite suffering through many central line infections, Luke remained positive, brave and strong throughout the experience. Luke now celebrates being cancer free and is thriving in first grade. His days are filled with school, playing Legos and creating Star Wars-related art projects.
Avery Driscoll, 9, from Las Vegas, Nev., was diagnosed with pilocytic astrocytoma, a childhood brain tumor in June 2011. Although Avery is currently undergoing treatment and has lost all peripheral sight, her can-do attitude and tenacity have helped her remain strong. She is a spirited and courageous girl who loves to draw, sing, play the piano and create art projects. Avery dreams of becoming an oncology child life specialist and helping kids discover their own “can-do” spirit.
Emily Magilnick, 16, from Long Beach, Calif., is anything but your average high school student. When Emily was 15, she began to feel pain in her shin and initially thought it was due to growing pains or a tennis injury. In December 2011, Emily was diagnosed with a cancerous bone tumor called chondroblastic osteosarcoma. She has bravely undergone a year of medical treatment, including chemotherapy and surgery to remove seven inches of her right tibia. Her prognosis is positive. She loves spending time with friends, watching movies, traveling and cooking.
Jordan Paganelli, forever 17, from California, Md., was a typical teenager who enjoyed sports, video games and hanging out with his friends. He was also an accomplished cross-country and track runner. On January 11, 2008, at age 16 Jordan's life changed forever when he was diagnosed with stage four alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a highly malignant soft-tissue cancer in the muscle cells. Despite aggressive treatments, Jordan passed away five days shy of his 18th birthday. Jordan's positive outlook on life was an inspiration to his family, friends and worldwide network of supporters. His memory continues to remind us of the need for research so no child, teen or young adult will have to suffer and have their promising futures stolen.
In 2012, the St. Baldrick's Foundation funded more than $25 million in grants, made possible by more than 1,300 events, shaving more than 56,200 heads.
Help make 2013 even bigger! To locate or organize an event in your community, sign-up to shave, donate or volunteer, visit www.StBaldricks.org. You can 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 and donor-centered charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives. Since 2005, St. Baldrick's has awarded more than $100 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. For more information about the St. Baldrick's Foundation please call 1.888.899.BALD or visit www.StBaldricks.org.
For St. Baldrick's Foundation
Jayme Owen, 919-334-3779
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