Connor Cruse was just 4 years old when he presented with neuroblastoma, a cancerous tumor that develops from the nerve cells and occurs in infants and children. Five years later, the disease claimed his life, but his courageous spirit lives on through the TeamConnor Cancer Foundation, established by Tait and Joy Cruse of Frisco, Texas, in honor of their son.
TeamConnor's mission is to raise awareness, support families, fund treatments and help find a cure for childhood cancer," says Jennifer Bolton, executive director of the TeamConnor Foundation. Through golf tournaments, auctions and other fundraising events, the foundation has awarded close to $1 million for research and family support.
MD Anderson became one of the most recent recipients of TeamConnor's generosity when it awarded $50,000 to Joya Chandra, Ph.D., associate professor in the Division of Pediatrics, to support her glioblastoma research.
"Dr. Chandra has enormous compassion for families suffering as a result of a child being diagnosed with cancer. Finding a cure for childhood cancer is paramount to Dr. Chandra, but she never forgets that families are in emotional pain as they maneuver through the complicated world of cancer protocols," says Bolton.
Recent cutbacks in federal research funds make philanthropic support critical, says Chandra.
"Without philanthropy this wouldn't be possible," says Chandra. "I'm grateful for foundations and families like TeamConnor. Instead of just asking the questions like 'Why me?' they decide to do something so wonderful for other families."