April 8, 2016 — For the members of Team Life at Kensington Road elementary, it’s what we DON’T see today that makes all the difference.
For many of them, we don’t see hair on their heads after this weekend’s annual fundraising event for the St. Baldrick’s pediatric cancer research foundation. And for the most important member of the team, doctors don’t see the cancer cells in her bloodstream that first appeared in 2008.
“She was in remission last time, and now she’s ‘no evidence of disease,’” says mom Julie Snyder, about her 9-year old daughter Ava. The KRS fourth-grader was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) seven years ago, and is now considered cancer-free.
For the past four years, a group of students and friends have honored Ava by supporting the St. Baldrick’s head-shaving fundraiser, helping raise close to $40,000 in the local area this year. The money funds research and clinical trials specific to childhood cancers.
(Read more about the St. Baldrick's Foundation and Ava's Honored Kid status here: https://www.stbaldricks.org/kids/mypage/1475)
“We had more than 20 Glens Falls youth wrestlers, coaches, and parents raise over $2,000 and Brave the Shave at our local St. Baldrick’s fundraiser this past Sunday,” said PTA president Jen Wilson. “The kids were amazing and we couldn't be more proud of them!”
Parent Kelly Stevens was a spur-of-the-moment “Shavee” after challenging the crowd to raise $1,000 on the spot. It happened, so she shaved her head.
Students at the Middle School and Kensington also sold bracelets as part of the overall fundraising effort. Kensington netted $275 from the effort, and the Middle School group netted $175.
With only four percent of federal funding dedicated solely to childhood cancer research, every little bit helps to make research grants possible.
Ava was treated through the Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Albany Medical Center, and doctors there have used St. Baldrick’s grants in their search for kinder treatments and cures.
“Through our participation in local St. Baldrick’s events, our center is eligible to receive a grant that supports our clinical research team," says Dr. Vik Kanwar, Division Chief of The Melodies Center. "We can run a wide variety of clinical trials and meet the needs of each patient we diagnose by providing life-saving care close to home.”
Angie Silipigno, the Certified Child Life Specialist on the Melodies team describes the impact of St. Baldrick's grants as multi-faceted and far-reaching. "St. Baldrick’s events raise community awareness on childhood cancer, draw together patients and their families, and allow shavees to stand in solidarity with their friends and loved ones," Mrs. Silipigno says. "While raising funds for research, these events celebrate the bravery of patients and their families, encourage hope and strength, and serve as an inspiration to many. To be a part of one of these events, in any capacity, is truly overwhelming and carries a lasting impact."
Above are Team Life members Emma Stevens, Jonathan Stevens, Zachary Stevens, Ayden Grieve, Brady Gross, Kendall Gross, Natalia Steves, Will Wilson, Freddy Wilson, Skyler Kimball, Lila Krogmann, Joanne Davidson, Ava Snyder, Gianna Endieverri, Steven Endieverri, C.J. Lunt, Nora Moynihan, Carrie Krogmann, Kelly Stevens, Joanne Davidson, and Jennifer Hayes.
Below are members of the Glens Falls Youth Wrestling Team, with parents and coaches.