GILLETTE, NJ - WITH Grace Initiative and The American Childhood Cancer Organization hosted a Childhood Cancer Virtual Advocacy Hour in honor of International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD) on February 15th. Attendees from across the state included legislators, medical professionals, pediatric cancer warriors, their families and fellow New Jerseyans.
The goal of this virtual event was to support dedicated childhood cancer research funding in the state of New Jersey. New Jersey is the 3rd highest state in the country for pediatric cancer incidence rates according to a June 2018 CDC report. 17 out of 21 counties in this state have higher incidence rates for leukemia than the national average. Only 4% of national cancer research funding goes towards kids, leaving the opportunity and responsibility on the states to fill this gap.
The advocacy hour was attended by over 50 attendees, including over 25 legislators, and included a prerecorded message from Governor Phil Murphy thanking the attendees for taking the time to participate and speaking to the “courage and positivity of these incredible kids fighting cancer.” Speakers included key lawmakers from around the state and included Republican Leader in the New Jersey Senate Senator Tom Kean, Senator Anthony Bucco, Senator Joseph Pennacchio, Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz and Assemblywoman Aura Dunn amongst others. Other speakers included Dr. Rahul Parikh (Radiation Oncology Rutgers Cancer Institute NJ, Director of Laurie Proton Center Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital), Dr. Harini Rao (Pediatric Hematology/ Neuro-Oncology Newark Beth Israel Medical Center), representatives from the American Childhood Cancer Organization and Grace Eline.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney was also in attendance and tweeted “I am proud to stand with the @accorg and #WITHGraceInitiative. As home to some of the finest medical facilities in the country, I know that #NewJersey will continue to lead the fight to find a #cure for this horrible disease.”
“I am proud to be a survivor and the voice of children who don’t have one. I am propelled to make NJ a leader in pediatric cancer research in honor of my friend Will who unfortunately passed away in June of 2020, sadly a reality many childhood cancer warriors face,” said Grace as she addressed the audience on Zoom.
About WITH Grace Initiative
Grace has been raising money for pediatric cancer since a very young age. Then at nine years old, Grace was diagnosed with Germinoma, a germ-cell brain tumor. In May 2018, Grace traded her softball glove and gymnastics leotard for chemotherapy and proton radiation. Throughout the rest of the year, Grace stayed positive and strong, making the rounds in the hospital, cheering up other patients and always having a smile for the many caring medical professionals who treated her. Grace will tell you that maybe it wasn’t the most fun thing to do, but she wouldn’t trade the people she met and the friends she made for anything. As the true warrior she is, Grace has channeled her energy into helping several charities with fundraising, awareness campaigns, and visits to pediatric patients.
Grace started the WITH Grace Initiative, in collaboration with The American Childhood Cancer Organization. Grace has been able to be an advocate for pediatric cancer research funding. She has spoken to key lawmakers not only in her home state of New Jersey but repeatedly on a national level and has represented the cause at the White House and on Capitol Hill. Grace is passionate about being the voice for kids with cancer and wants to help find a cure. The WITH Grace Initiative is dedicated to pediatric cancer research funding, advocacy for the cause and direct care initiatives to those fighting the disease and their families. Please visit https://www.withgraceinitiative.org to learn more about the journey of this extraordinary 12-year old. 908-403-3232 (cell) hello@WITHGraceInitiative.org
About American Childhood Cancer Organization
The American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) was founded in 1970 by parents of children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer. Formerly known as Candlelighters, ACCO is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated to childhood cancer. Did you know childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of children in the United States and the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 4 and 14. ACCO is determined to change these stats and make childhood cancer a national health priority by shaping policy, supporting research, raising awareness, and providing educational resources and programs to kids with cancer, survivors, and their families.