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National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: A Message From Don Garber

BY Kadesha Washington

We’re kicking-off National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month with a special message from the Commissioner of Major League Soccer, Don Garber. When Hope & Heroes started in 1996, Don was an early member of the board of directors. Currently, he serves as Vice-President. Continue reading to see why Don has remained so committed to raising awareness and support for pediatric cancer patients and their families at Columbia.


Photo: Major League Soccer

Every year in the U.S., more than 15,000 children will be diagnosed with cancer and it remains the leading cause of death for children under the age of 15. We know that there has been real progress in treating and curing childhood cancer. Even with some terrific advancements in science and new treatments, one in four children will not survive. We have to better those odds, especially since pediatric cancer research receives only 4 percent of all cancer-related funding. That’s simply not enough to improve survival rates and I know there is so much more we can do.

September is National Childhood Awareness Month. Throughout the month, supporters and organizations use their voices to help generate awareness and funding for pediatric cancer research and treatment. No parent wants to hear the devastating news that their child has cancer and certainly neither does any child.

That’s why I feel so strongly and remain so committed to supporting the meaning and the message of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, particularly on the local level.

When Hope & Heroes started in 1996, I was an early member of the board of directors, and am proud to still serve today. This organization is vital to the continued success of the Division of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology & Stem Cell Transplantation at Columbia University Medical Center, providing over 40 percent of the funding for clinical treatment, research and comprehensive patient care. Through my direct involvement with Hope & Heroes, I know the programs and services Hope & Heroes provides directly impact the children and families in treatment at Columbia.  

As the Commissioner of Major League Soccer, I am proud that we use our global voice to help support children and families fighting cancer through our Soccer Kicks Cancer campaign. But, our commitment to this cause isn’t just one month a year. MLS and MLS WORKS are proud Presenting Sponsors of the Hope & Heroes Walk every year, and our teams across the country partner with local hospitals and charities, providing a special experience for childhood cancer patients and giving a voice to their stories and to the cause. In fact, one of our New York teams, NYCFC, has been partnering with Hope & Heroes since the team was launched three years ago. They welcome a patient family at every home game, and this month they are doing a lot to support Hope & Heroes, along with other September Partners.

Whether it’s been at a soccer game, visiting the hospital or at the Hope & Heroes Walk, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know the childhood cancer patients & their families, as well as the doctors and nurses that treat them. All of these people are heroes, who get up every day to endure another round of chemo, research treatment options for a difficult diagnosis, and support each other with a common goal: to give all children the opportunity to live full and healthy lives.

I invite you to join me, Major League Soccer, NYCFC, the Hope & Heroes board of directors, and other “September Initiative” partners in lending your support and your voice to this cause. Whether you donate, post on social media, or get your community or place of work involved, your actions will ensure that Hope & Heroes can do their best for patients today while doing better for the patients of tomorrow.

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