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Over the summer, Aeshaan Singhal hosted two fun and magical talent shows to raise money for pediatric cancer research at Stanford University School of Medicine. In its fourth year, the Bye-Bye Cancer Talent Show has raised more than $10,000. Even more remarkable is that Aeshaan is just 10 years old and that the show’s talented stars are as young as 5.
Aeshaan played classical guitar, and other kids joined in singing, dancing, and performing martial arts for fans at Santana Row and Stanford Shopping Center.
“I love how the kids are coming together and volunteering to help other kids who need help. I can’t believe we have raised $10,000!” says Aeshaan. “I hope with this money a few kids can beat cancer completely.”
Thank you, Aeshaan and friends, for helping children and families at Packard Children’s with your talents! Special thanks to their families and friends who supported their efforts with generous donations.
In April, the Association of Auxiliaries for Children held its annual Celebration Luncheon where it commemorated 100 years of service, announced its 2019 Special Project, Caring for Hearts, and highlighted the Auxiliaries Endowment. The Endowment was formed in 1999 to expand the Auxiliaries’ legacy and build on their commitment to help children receiving care at Packard Children’s. Contributions to the endowment are made in various ways—primarily through the estate plans of Auxiliaries members and their families.
The Association of Auxiliaries Endowment awards roughly $1 million annually to programs benefiting children and their families at our hospital. This year, the Association of Auxiliaries received a record number of proposals and chose to fund the Harvey Cohen Endowed Fund (to support critical clinical programs); the Center for Professional Excellence and Inquiry (for the Revive Initiative for Resuscitation Excellence: Mannequin Training Program); the Endocrinology Department (for continuous glucose monitors); the neonatal intensive care unit and intermediate care nurseries (for bedside cameras); the Pediatric Anesthesia Department (for the nitrous oxide sedation program as well as an expansion of the Chariot Program); and Pediatric Surgery (for an e-health initiative).
Thank you, Auxiliaries Endowment donors, for your support!
When Ben LeNail was diagnosed with a debilitating neurological disorder, he learned that it’s typical for people in similar situations to make one of two choices: create a bucket list of all the things they want to do before they die, or use their diagnosis to help others, turning it into something powerful and meaningful. We’re humbled and deeply grateful that Ben chose to partner with a Stanford researcher to accomplish the latter.
First, the entrepreneur, angel investor, and business mentor immersed himself in medical texts to learn as much as he could about his condition, adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), which affects 1 in 15,000 people—mostly boys and men. When diagnosed in young boys, the disease usually leads to death within five years. Ben has a different type of ALD that doesn’t develop until men are in their 20s and 30s and progresses more slowly.
“He was always online. He kept an eagle eye out for anything that might be helpful,” says his wife, Laurie Yoler.
Then, Ben connected with Keith Van Haren, MD, an assistant professor of neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine and a national leader in ALD research. Van Haren’s research is focused on the effect of early vitamin D exposure on ALD and other neurodegenerative diseases. His early findings show that vitamin D, when given to babies, reduces the risk of developing a common type of ALD.
“When Keith described the research around vitamin D that he was trying to do, we were excited. We felt like we could make a difference,” says Laurie.
Ben and Laurie pledged more than $300,000 in support of Van Haren’s lab and last June hosted a dinner at their Palo Alto home that raised nearly $100,000. With matching support from the Taube Pediatric Neurodegenerative Disease Research Fund launched at Stanford, their philanthropy will hire the first postdoctoral fellow focused solely on vitamin D research. The fellow will join the lab’s small team of researchers and medical students.
“It buys time and talent to move the lab forward,” says Van Haren, who hopes to expand clinical trials to determine the efficacy of vitamin D as a treatment for ALD.
“We’re in the early days,” says Ben. “ALD is very complex; there are lots of unknowns. But I think we’re making progress.”
That’s in no small part due to Ben and Laurie’s generous support and advocacy. Their sons, Alex and Max LeNail, are joining the effort as well. Max is studying neurobiology at Brown University and interned in Van Haren’s lab one summer. Alex is earning a PhD in computational systems biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Alex admits his life took a turn after his dad’s diagnosis 10 years ago. He went from an interest in international relations to biology, because “science is the way to go about ultimately curing these diseases.”
Thank you to Ben and Laurie and their family for advancing ALD research!
Thank you to Star One Credit Union for the generous gift of $20,000 to bring special Mother’s Day and Father’s Day parties to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford this year. These celebrations provided a sense of normalcy for patient caregivers and created memories to last a lifetime.
More than 120 guests enjoyed the Mother’s Day celebration, which featured a coffee cart, breakfast treats, flowers, and crafts. For Father’s Day, a coffee cart, plenty of bacon, fresh donuts, and lawn games delighted more than 100 dads.
We could not be more grateful to Star One Credit Union for bringing joy to the parents and guardians who tirelessly care for their sick children.
What do the African jungle, enchanted tiki, and French Versailles all have in common? They’ve been themes at the Hospital Prom, which is one of the most anticipated events of the year. And it wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of Lin and James French. The couple has supported the event since it started 15 years ago. Prom has grown bigger every year, and now hundreds of current and former patients of all ages and their families enjoy an evening filled with carnival games, costumes, face painting, dancing, and more.
Lin also volunteers in the Hospital School, spending most of her time with kindergarten through fifth-graders and visiting children who cannot leave their rooms. The Hospital School is part of the Palo Alto Unified School District and ensures that kids don’t fall behind in their studies during hospitalization. It also provides a sense of normalcy, giving school-age children a familiar and reassuring routine in an unfamiliar setting.
Lin became active with the Hospital School when she decided to retire from teaching and contacted the hospital to learn about volunteering. It was a perfect match. “It has been wonderful,” Lin says. “It is a great group of teachers.”
Lin and James, we appreciate all you do for our patients and pupils!
In 2018, Marcia and Nat Sterling searched for a support group for family members of children with neurofibromatosis (NF), a genetic condition that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue. However, they couldn’t find one in the Bay Area. Their granddaughter, now age 4, had just been diagnosed with NF, and they wanted to connect with other families.
The couple’s search led them to Packard Children’s, where they met Cynthia Campen, MD, clinical associate professor of neurology and neurological sciences, and co-director of the pediatric NF clinic. Campen expressed the need for an NF support group, and the Sterlings quickly obliged.
The new NF Support Group meets quarterly at Stanford. Parents, grandparents, friends, and family of children who have been diagnosed with NF are welcome.
“We would like to create some kind of continuous core group of folks really committed to serving as a resource to parents who may be scared or exhausted,” says Marcia.
In addition, the couple supports NF research as Circles of Leadership donors, giving $1,000 or more annually to our hospital.
Thank you, Marcia and Nat, for all that you do for our hospital and patients with NF!
We're grateful to donors Sandy and Harry Cheung for their ongoing gift of model-building kits to the Child Life and Creative Arts Department at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. The Gundam model kits are used in therapeutic play with patients to reduce stress and help children and their families cope positively with hospitalization and illness.
The Cheungs became interested in the globally popular model kits because they were excited to try a new hands-on activity with their own children. After seeing how much their children enjoyed the kits, they were kind enough to think of patients in our care.
“In this ever-increasingly digital world, we see fewer and fewer opportunities for kids to work with their hands and build something,” says Harry. “These fantasy- or science-fiction-based model kits are a great way to engage kids in an activity that speaks to their imagination. We’re happy to be working with Packard Children’s to enable their patients to just be kids.”
Beyond the joy and pride that comes from building a model, the Child Life team discovered that the intricacy of the kits allows for therapists to spend more time at a patient’s bedside and create a deeper connection.
“When playing, children are more likely to talk openly about their feelings,” says Susan Kinnebrew, MHA, CCLS, director of Child Life and Creative Arts. “The feedback from my team has been overwhelmingly positive.”
Thank you, Sandy and Harry, for giving our patients a fun and creative way to relieve stress and express their feelings!
In September, Hyundai Hope On Wheels awarded Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford $500,000 to fund groundbreaking cancer research. Hyundai Motor America has been a significant supporter of our hospital for 15 years through its Hyundai Hope On Wheels program. Hyundai’s recent grants mark $2.5 million in donations to Packard Children’s.
This year, Hyundai Hope On Wheels gave grants to Sneha Ramakrishna, MD, who is developing new therapies to treat B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and Alice Bertaina, MD, PhD, whose research is identifying new and efficient treatment options for juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia.
Hyundai presented the grants to Ramakrishna and Bertaina in our hospital’s Dawes Garden during a Hyundai Hope On Wheels Handprint Ceremony.
Patients were invited to dip their hands in paint and place their handprints on a white Hyundai Santa Fe. The handprints represent the individual and collective journeys, hopes, and dreams of pediatric cancer patients. Thank you, Hyundai, for funding research that is helping save the lives of children in the Bay Area and beyond!
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of Packard Children’s News.