NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Grace Eline, a 12-year-old cancer survivor who is finishing up sixth grade, helped to raise awareness and funds for children's cancer through a partnership with Prestige Diner and hosted a "Dinner with Grace" event that brought family and community members together for a great cause: With Grace Initiative.
Grace was diagnosed with Germinoma, a germ-cell brain tumor, at nine years old. Through her diagnosis and treatments, Grace never forgot to smile and lighten the mood for the other patients she met along the way. She is a warrior and survivor. Grace has channeled her energy into helping several charities with fundraising, awareness campaigns, and visits to the Valerie Fund and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey where she was treated. She always remembers to find her smile when she goes there, and all the people who have met her there would tell you she always brightens their day.
This dinner fundraiser is among a steady calendar of events planned through With Grace Initiative. The incentive is to keep advocacy going and expand exposure to reach more people. "I'm passionate about advocating and just raising awareness for the cause. -- I really want to make sure that the awareness is there, and that people who know about the cause know that there are many things that they can do," said Grace.
Grace's mission is making the world a better place for people who are in treatment and surviving -- and the caretakers and doctors. "I just want to make sure that people get a better overall experience, because it was me and I hope that sometime in the future that people or children don't even get cancer in general, but if they do that they have a good treatment process and that they have resources that they need," Grace told TAPinto.
"Childhood Cancer, obviously, is a cause near and dear to our hearts," said Grace's mother Aubrey. "Our lives are forever marked by before cancer and after cancer. We're thankful that Grace gets an after. So we are very passionate about making an impact with that and helping others. We saw the need when we were in treatment to help other kids with cancer. We were treated in Newark -- there were a lot less fortunate. And we felt compelled to start this initiative and pay it forward. So because of your support, we can help other kids. We are able to send care packages."
Grace thanked everybody for supporting the With Grace Initiative. "We're extremely thankful for everyone's support tonight. Especially Jimmy [Vardas] from the Prestige Diner. You've been a partner proactively here." She presented Vardas with an Impact Award. "The award is to show all the good and positive impact that you have done for us, and for the world and childhood cancer," said Grace. "So, it's pretty much just to show all the good and positive impact that you have done for us, and for the world and childhood cancer."
Aurbrey told TAPinto, "We're trying to get through to 50 states." Grace recently reached an international audience through her work with a proton radiation company. "They advocate for access to care at children's hospitals in China in Shanghai," she said. "They're providing a machine to them for proton radiation in China outside of Shanghai. -- Grace actually spoke at the unveiling through zoom."
Grace has gone before Congress on several occasions advocating for funding for pediatric cancer research. "We also are focused on raising money for research. At the Federal level, the vast majority of spending on cancer research goes to adults. But our question is 'What about kids?' So, we're focused on getting that research funding in at the State level -- for pediatric cancer research. We hope that our initiative with your participation will allow us to support critical research initiatives, so children can survive. And when they survive, they survived better survivorship, and they don't have long term issues like 75 percent of survivors. So with your help tonight, we'll be able to make that impact. So we're insanely thankful," said Aubrey.
Aubrey recognized Senator Tom Kean, who was in attendance, for his partnership in helping pave the ways in New Jersey. "There is no funding at the State level. Hopefully after this legislative season, we will have three bills passed for pediatric cancer research," said Aubrey.
Click here to learn more about Grace's journey and the work behind the With Grace Initiative.