When Ryan and Brandon started the Purple Monkeys as part of Lauren’s Run, they were only 7 and 4 years old. Neither of them have missed a year of participating or fundraising in the 12 years that have followed. Their efforts were first inspired by Brandon’s diagnosis at one month old with neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of childhood cancer. But pretty quickly their inspiration changed. While we will always be extremely grateful for Brandon’s survival, and we will never stop “paying it forward,” our inspiration now is grounded in the struggles, devastation, courage, losses and triumphs of many other children.
As I write this, the grief of loss is raw. A beautiful girl named Grace – “Amazing Grace” as she was called – died one day shy of her 15th birthday. Grace’s courage and sheer will to enjoy every day she had on this earth inspired thousands. If only the love for her could’ve saved her. But cancer is a vicious, cruel disease, and it just couldn’t be stopped. Sunday, March 25 at 1:18 pm Grace departed this earth for her heavenly home.
In the nearly 17 years since Brandon’s diagnosis, we’ve come to know this pain and sadness too well. We have celebrated so many victories as children – friends – have finished treatment and moved on with life. But the losses – and there are far too many – bring us to our knees. We stay there long enough to cry and pray for comfort and peace for the family members and friends left behind. And then we pull ourselves up because there’s a fight that has to be fought. We have to do better for these children, and there’s only one way to do that. Research.
The money we raise this year will be in memory of all our precious friends who have died at the hands of this merciless disease. It will go toward CURE’s substantial commitment to precision medicine, an emerging form of disease treatment that focuses on the genetic makeup of a child’s cancer and targets treatment specifically and precisely at the genetic abnormalities. We believe this approach is the best approach and holds tremendous promise in the near term for children with cancer.
We know there are many important causes and many requests for support made, so we sincerely appreciate support!
Ryan, Brandon and Kristin Connor