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Lightning Foundation Grant Spotlight: Pediatric Cancer Foundation

by Erin Chenderlin / Tampa Bay Lightning

On April 23, the Lightning Foundation awarded grants to 16 local organizations totaling $120,500 at the Community Awards and Donor Recognition Reception. Grant applicants were asked to detail their organizations and give a proposed program or project, along with a description of how it qualifies under the Lightning Foundation's funding guidelines. The Foundation's Board of Directors selected the 16 organizations. is profiling each of the organizations and the grant they received. Check back daily for a new organization and see how the Lightning Foundation is truly fulfilling its mission to make Tampa Bay a better place to live, work and play.

Pediatric Cancer Foundation

Fighting pediatric cancer and helping to find a cure has been one of the primary goals of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Lightning Foundation since their inception.

In keeping with this fight, the Lightning Foundation awarded a continuing grant to the Pediatric Cancer Foundation to help fund the Sunshine Project.

The Sunshine Project involves investigators working together to perform three vital phases of research simultaneously, in order to drastically reduce research time. The three phases include basic science, translational research and clinical trials.

"We created [the Sunshine Project] to bring together the top research institutions, doctors and scientists around the country, so they could all work together instead of independently," said Lisa Andrews, development director for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. By bringing everyone together, she said, everything gets done at a much faster pace.

The Sunshine Project was launched in November 2005 and should be starting its first clinical trial at All Children's Hospital in the next few weeks.

"Having the collaboration of doctors and researchers, we've really fast-tracked the process and gotten ready in record time," Andrews said. The clinical trials will be used to find new, more modern drugs and treatments for pediatric cancer.

"A lot of these cancers have not seen a new treatment or new drug in more than 20 years," she said. "Nothing really new has been done for children's cancer."

While finding and identifying new treatment options through these clinical trials, researchers will be focusing on developing treatments that target only specific, cancer-causing molecules in the body, avoiding toxicity to healthy cells. Andrews said the grant money awarded by the Lightning Foundation will go toward helping fund one of the clinical trials. Each trial costs $12,000 per child, and there are 25 children in each.

"They've been huge supporters of us, and we really couldn't have done this without the support of foundations like the Lightning," she said. "The grant is wonderful, but our relationship with the Lightning in general is wonderful. It really opens doors."

The Pediatric Cancer Foundation's mission is to find new treatments and cures for childhood cancer. Andrews said they are the only foundation based here in Tampa that focuses 100 percent of their efforts on pediatric cancer.

"The children who qualify for our clinical trials have gone through the standard options and it hasn't worked," Andrews said. "We're giving hope to families who otherwise don't really have an option."


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