Honored Kid

Benicio (Benny) Martinez

Age 19
Benicio (Benny) Martinez Kid Photo


Park Ridge, IL, US


Brain or spinal cord tumor

Date of Diagnosis

March 2016


No evidence of disease

Treated At

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children

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My Story

I first shaved my head for St. Baldrick's in the spring of 2016 at the age of 11. Just 11 days afterward, I was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma brain cancer while on a family vacation in Orlando. I underwent brain surgery, radiation and chemo and was working hard to relearn how to walk, talk and eat again, when I developed a rare and deadly side effect called radiation necrosis in my brain stem. I gradually lost mobility over the next several months and was eventually put on a ventilator.

Even though I had to spend 576 days in the hospital, I worked hard to keep up with my schoolwork and graduated from high school with my classmates in 2022. I currently use an iPad with a camera that tracks my eye movements, and I can also play video games with it - one of my favorite pastimes. I'm looking forward to going to college and am thinking of getting a degree in graphic design.

Since my first fundraiser in 2016, my friends, family and I have raised over $250,000 dollars for St. Baldrick's. This funds critical research for safer treatments with fewer side effects to treat childhood cancer. I'm lucky to be alive today, unlike so many other children who have lost their lives to cancer. Still, I would hope that other survivors could benefit from newer, safer treatments to minimize the impact of long-term side effects, like those I am dealing with. 

The Childhood Cancer Ripple Effect

Who's Honoring Me

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