In 2003, as 36-year-old Liddy Shriver of New Jersey reached the end stages of Ewing’s sarcoma, she decided to fill the time she had left with things she had never done before. On her wish list was a multi-day bike ride to raise awareness of sarcoma and to help families facing the disease. She leaves a lasting impression in the hearts of many through the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative and its Team Sarcoma that raise awareness and generate funds to support sarcoma research, clinical trials and patient and family services.
MD Anderson investigators have received five research grants totaling $250,000, most recently to Wei Zhang, Ph.D., professor of pathology at MD Anderson, and Jilong Yang, M.D., Ph.D., who completed his postdoctoral training at MD Anderson and returned to Tianjin Cancer Hospital in China. Their lab research project focuses on the malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor, a soft tissue sarcoma in cells that form a protective sheath around peripheral nerves, or those outside of the central nervous system.
The initiative started seven years ago with Liddy and six other people.
“We had jerseys made and we biked for four days, 50 miles each day, covering 200 miles in all. We raised $14,000 for sarcoma research,” says Bruce Shriver, who along with his wife Beverly, started the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative in their daughter’s honor.
Today the Team Sarcoma Initiative is a coordinated set of events to raise money and awareness that culminates in International Sarcoma Awareness Week. It has grown to more than 21,000 participants who raised more than $640,000 this past July.
“We’ve held 85 events in 14 countries including Portugal, China, Denmark, Mexico, Poland and Japan. Each year the efforts grow significantly along with the contacts around the world.”