• Press Release
  • For Immediate Release
  • St. Baldrick’s Foundation Media Contact:
    • Michele Franco
    • 626.792.8247 ext. 264
    • michele.franco@stbaldricks.org
  • TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation Media Contact:
    • Emily Allbright, Executive Director
    • 972.663.7327
    • eallbright@teamconnor.org

St. Baldrick’s Foundation Joins Forces with TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation to Fund Childhood Cancer Research

Dallas, Texas – The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest non-government funder of childhood cancer research grants, is proud to announce a new partnership with TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation based in Dallas, Texas to support the best research to find cures and better treatments for kids with cancer.

This is the first time that St. Baldrick’s and TeamConnor are coming together to help fund the work of Dr. Erica Braverman at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Dr. Braverman is working to find a way to alter tumor-targeting immune cells to make them last longer when they are given back to patients.

There are new cancer therapies in which a patient’s own immune system is retrained to fight against their cancer. One of these therapies is CAR-T cell therapy, when a patient’s immune cells are removed from the bloodstream and reprogrammed to target and attack their cancer when the cells are returned to the body. While this therapy has shown great promise, there are still situations, especially with very high-risk cancers, where it does not work. One significant issue that exists with this treatment is that the retrained immune cells do not always stick around after being given back to the patient, which allows the cancer to outlast the therapy and come back.

Dr. Braverman and her team know that once cancers have resisted a treatment once, it is difficult to use the same treatment again. Dr. Braverman’s project aims to find ways to make the altered immune cells last longer, ultimately allowing for a long-term cure for their cancer without the need for further treatment.

“The TeamConnor board of directors had a unanimous vote in November 2020 to move forward and co-fund this research grant with St. Baldrick’s for Dr. Braverman. We are thankful for our generous donors who make the important research funding possible,” said Joy Cruse, founder of TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation and more importantly Connor’s mother. “As a mother of a childhood cancer warrior who fought courageously, it gives me hope to know that one day these important research studies will lead to better treatments but most importantly a cure. Our family walked a journey that no family should walk. This is my purpose and why as an organization TeamConnor is passionate about funding childhood cancer research.”

TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation was founded and named in honor of Connor Cruse. He was a rambunctious four-year old boy who loved Bob the Builder, Power Rangers, swimming, fighting with lightsabers, and anything else he could get his hands on. In other words, Connor was just a normal little boy when he was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma in May 2005.

Tumors were found around Connor’s spine, behind his heart, and there was a nine-centimeter mass in his abdomen. Cancer had spread to the bones in Connor’s legs, pelvis, ribs, and shoulders. Connor faced a four-year battle that included more than 200 nights in the hospital, 14 surgeries, 40 blood transfusions, 25 rounds of chemotherapy, two bone marrow transplants, and countless painful procedures. Throughout his treatments Connor did not complain. He was a valiant warrior with incredible faith.

As Connor fought for his life, his parent’s, Joy and Tait Cruse, were touched by how cancer affected other families they met during Connor’s treatments. Before Connor passed away, Joy and Tait promised him that they would do everything they could to keep other kids from having to go through what Connor faced.

In 2008, the TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation was established to fund childhood cancer research. Shortly after Team Connor was started, Connor lost his battle with cancer in July 2009.

TeamConnor continues to fight on in honor of Connor, and all kids who are diagnosed with cancer, so that someday there will be a cure and better treatment options for kids with cancer.

If you’d like to learn more about the TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation or becoming a St. Baldrick’s Non-Profit Partner, visit TeamConnor.org or StBaldricks.org/Partners.

About St. Baldrick’s Foundation
Every 2 minutes a child somewhere in the world is diagnosed with cancer. In the U.S., 1 in 5 will not survive. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest non-government funder of childhood cancer research grants, is on a mission to give kids a lifetime by supporting the most promising research to find cures and better treatments for all childhood cancers. When you give to St. Baldrick’s, you don’t just give to one institution – you support virtually every institution with the expertise to treat kids with cancer across the U.S. St. Baldrick’s ensures that children fighting cancer now — and those diagnosed in the future — will have access to the most cutting-edge treatment, by supporting every stage of research, from new ideas in the lab to the development of new therapies, to life-saving clinical trials. Join us at StBaldricks.org and help #GiveKidsaLifetime.

About TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation
The TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation’s mission is to raise funds for national childhood cancer research programs, build awareness for increased funding of childhood cancer research, and to support inpatient programs. TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation was founded as a non-profit 501(c)(3) by Connor’s mother, Joy Cruse, and shortly thereafter the first board of directors was established. Since TeamConnor’s inception in 2008, the organization has donated more than $4.5 million to hospitals and research facilities throughout the country. TeamConnor would not be successful without its generous donors and supporters who give generously as well as those who attend the fundraising events throughout the year. To learn how you have can join TeamConnor, visit TeamConnor.org.

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