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Golf event expected to raise $650,000 for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston
By Sue Asci
More than 400 executives from 50 mutual fund and financial services companies are expected to raise $650,000 June 12 at the 14th annual Expect Miracles Golf Classic, sponsored by Mutual Funds Against Cancer. The sold-out tournament, which raises money for research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, will take place at the Pinehills and Waverly Oaks golf courses in Plymouth, Mass.
Donations to the Hingham, Mass.-based charity have increased 60% during the last three years, said co-founder and chairman Frank Strauss, a principal at Beacon Consulting Group in Boston.
Those are "not bad returns," Mr. Strauss said.
Through its golf tournament and other fundraising events throughout the year, Mutual Funds Against Cancer raised $570,000 last year, up from $360,000 in 2006, $225,000 in 2005 and $156,000 a year earlier.
'MAKING A STATEMENT'
"The organization has impact," said Ken Starr, vice president of interactive data pricing and reference data at Interactive Data Corp. of Bedford, Mass., and foundation sponsor for 2008 and 2009.
"It's the mutual fund industry making a statement to a challenge: cancer research. It is important to a lot of people," he said.
Interactive Data has made the group one of its preferred charities and is sponsoring the golf event to build awareness about the organization, and to generate donations.
"It's an important organization to the industry we work in," said Doug Miller, executive vice president at State Street Corp. of Boston. "We have an opportunity to be leaders and to attract firms to this organization."
"It's a tremendous cause," said Jeff Masom, managing director of institutional services at Legg Mason Inc. of Baltimore. "It's a great opportunity for us to partner up with some of our competitors and our clients to support this great cause."
A 20-year veteran of the financial services industry, Mr. Strauss was chief investment officer at The CGM Funds of Boston when he started the organization. His mother had been diagnosed with leukemia, and he "saw a lot of children in the hospital when I visited my mom. She won her battle against cancer. It all came together."
The first friends and family golf tournament attracted 40 players who raised $6,000. "The banquet was me flipping burgers on my back deck," Mr. Strauss said.
Mutual Funds Against Cancer, which receives donations from more than 100 financial firms, most of them mutual funds, has funded several research programs, said Nancy Rowe, director of the Jimmy Fund Golf Program at Dana-Farber. "The money was unrestricted and is used wherever it was needed," she said.
For the past two years, donations have been directed to Dana-Farber's Center for Applied Cancer Science, which researches some of the most challenging cancers, such as melanoma, multiple myeloma, and colon, pancreatic, brain and lung cancer, Mr. Strauss said.
"They are doing some very cutting-edge research in the field of the major cancers," Ms. Rowe said. "There are breakthroughs that will happen because of the MFAC support. It's going to have a huge impact."
MFAC was proud and honored on June 26 at Fenway Park when founder and chairman, Frank Strauss accompanied 5 year-old cancer patient, Luciano “Little Papi” Quagliaroli for the opening pitch.
At four years old, Luciano had what any parent would assume was just a bump on the head. Their family practitioner and the specialist agreed the bump was merely a fatty cyst, but to be certain the specialist recommended surgery to remove it. In the two weeks leading up to the surgery the bump had grown to 1/3 the size of a golf ball. The surgeon found the lump to be larger than was expected, and, after running tests, discovered that the lump was not a cyst.
A week later Luciano’s parents returned to the doctor’s office only to learn that Luciano was diagnosed with Leukemia.
Luciano’s family had decisions to make. Looking to their faith and with the support and prayers of family and friends, they were able to sort through the sad and difficult time, and make the choices that would give their son a fighting chance to overcome Leukemia. Up-rooting their lives, they moved from Florida to Boston, in effort to give Luciano the best care in the country.
Children’s Hospital Boston and the Dana Farber Institute worked together to map out a treatment plan for Luciano, which would span a minimum of 25 months. On the day following his first day of treatment, his parents recall Luciano rocking out to the Who’s “Love reign over me.” It was clear that his battle against Leukemia was one that he would fight. Luciano has a wild imagination, extraordinary spirit, and a big heart. He writes on the hospital’s blog his parents created thanking people for their kind words and support. Like every child, Luciano enjoys snowball fights, pizza, hash browns, hot coco, and playtime with his 8 year-old sister, Talia. However, Luciano’s reality is very different from that of most children. During his treatment, he spends a lot of his time in a hospital bed hooked up to IVs, monitors, and machines, and pulls clumps of hair from his head, but he finds humor even in that; “Bald is beautiful,” he says with a laugh.
This June, Luciano was selected to throw the first pitch at the June 21st Red Sox game at Fenway. True to character Luciano joked that the catcher should consider some extra padding for his mitt. Afterall, his “Swiffle ball” zooms hundreds of miles to Africa!
The day arrived and Luciano’s name was announced over the speakers. The Fenway crowd erupted in cheers for the little comedian as he threw the first pitch. His parents recall the proud moment, hearing the crowd’s reaction and watching their little boy on the baseball diamond throwing his “Swiffle ball”.
Luciano is responding to treatment and he is on his way to recovering, but his fight against Leukemia is all but over. His adoring family fights with him every day. They keep his spirits strong and his laughter even stronger. Luciano, the little comedian, is fighting the battle and he is fighting to conquer.