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Motorcycle group revs up brain cancer research

Sam’s Jam honors late MD Anderson neurosurgeon

Promise - Spring 2013

By Miriam Smith

Motorcycle enthusiasts and cancer fighters unite on the grounds of MD Anderson. The Riders for the Cure (RFTC) group, comprising MD Anderson employees, patients and friends, supports brain cancer research in memory of Sam's granddaughter, Sydney Hassenbusch-Soar, and widow, Rhonda Hassenbusch, honor his legacy at the fifth annual Sam's Jam held October 13, 2012. Photos by Pam Samuelsbeloved co-founding member Samuel J. Hassenbusch III, M.D., Ph.D. The world-renowned MD Anderson neurosurgeon and researcher died of glioblastoma multiforme, a form of brain cancer, in 2008.

“We chose brain cancer research to keep funds close to our hearts,” says Brandy Reed, RFTC vice president.

Hassenbusch’s son, Jason, is an MD Anderson employee and an active RFTC member. He says his father’s legacy is a great source of pride.

“Through his journey, he showed that inspiration, hope and humor can overcome,” Jason says. “He co-founded Riders for the Cure to bridge the gap between motorcyclists and the medical community.”

Cooper Cortese, son of Kristin Cortese, MD Anderson employee and RFTC officer, wears yellow and orange ribbons in honor and in memory of friends and family members, some of whom are fighting cancer and others who lost their battles.RFTC hosts its signature event, Sam’s Jam, every October to remember Hassenbusch.

“By hosting this motorcycle ride, we honor Dr. Sam’s spirit, his vitality and, most of all, his commitment to patient care and research,” Reed says.

RFTC’s most recent donation of $12,000 supports the research of Anita Mahajan, M.D. Her phase I/II study aims to improve the symptoms and quality of life for children with recurrent brainstem glioma, a highly aggressive form of brain cancer. The goal is to offer a treatment option for patients with an incurable disease.

“Brainstem glioma is devastating,” says Mahajan, professor of Radiation Oncology. “We’re trying to make the lives of these children and families a little better.”

Mahajan also has an interest in proton therapy, which may benefit children with other types of brain tumors. She works primarily with pediatric patients at the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center.

RFTC’s membership and fundraising capabilities continue to grow through the expansion of its bi-annual motorcycle rides. The group remains committed to brain cancer research through its funding of studies that focus on a cure or increased quality of life for glioblastoma patients. In the future, they hope to sponsor an endowed professorship that will also support efforts to fight this disease.

To learn more about RFTC, visit

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