by: Dr. Laurie Junker, Au.D
ECHO Hearing Systems
It was a chilly morning on April 2nd when most of our family from our Western Pennsylvania Starkey HearCare offices, Dr. Omallah Bush from Ohio, Dr. Keri Ruf and Alyson Williams from New Jersey and some friends and family gathered for the Race for Grace to benefit children with brain cancer. This is the second year that Starkey HearCare has had a team participating in the Race and our team grew to sixteen members this year and raised a total of $2,360. The Race fundraising total at the end of the day was over $128,000 and is expected to continue to grow as some late donations come in.
The Race is the major fundraiser for Reflections of Grace, named in memory of Grace Ekis who passed away from brain cancer on Valentine’s Day in 2008. The foundation provides grants to families affected by brain cancer and supports researchers to find a cure for DIPG, the form of cancer that Grace had. Doctor’s call curing DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma) the “home run cure” because it is felt that if they can cure DIPG, they can cure all cancers. To date, there have been no advances in treatments for DIPG in 30 years. Neil Armstrong’s daughter had the same form of cancer and the same treatment in the early 1960’s as Grace did. All the medical advancements in that time and it’s stunning that nothing new can be done for these children.
Grace’s mom Tamara was talking recently with a social worker that has referred families to her to receive grants. What she said has stuck with me. She said “You don’t get to see what I see when your grant arrives. That money allows the families to take a breath.” I can only imagine that hearing “your child has brain cancer” can make a parent stop breathing. Not only are you worried about your child, but you may be worried about taking time off work to be with them and still pay your bills. The grants from Reflections of Grace can at least alleviate some of that worry for them, it can let them take a breath.
I so appreciate the support of everyone at Starkey HearCare for this cause that is very dear to me. Grace was my neighbor and we won’t stop racing for her until her race is won.