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Liam's 9th Birthday

Today is our friend Liam’s 9th birthday. He is not here to celebrate it with us. On January 24, 2011, our friends Gretchen and Larry Witt lost their gorgeous son Liam to cancer. He was 6 1/2 years old. The same age as Sam and Ari at the time. He was their classmate and their friend. Liam also pretty much lived at apple seeds. He was always in the playground or in one of our classes. Everyone in our family and everyone at apple seeds (our other family) loved him. Liam fought cancer for 4 1/2 years. In that time, he had countless surgeries and rounds of high dose chemo. He lost his hair all the time, he had a port in his chest for medicine, he was sequestered away from friends and extended family when his immune system was down. He never complained. Never. Liam was filled with life, energy, happiness, smiles, hugs, love, guts and courage. I was at the hospital the night he died. It was an experience that will never leave me. The pain of watching this amazing family have to say good bye forever to their child cut me deeper than I can ever possibly explain in an email. It was, and still is, a year and a half later, utterly unthinkable.

I cannot imagine any other family having to go through what I witnessed Liam’s family go through in the years that he battled cancer, the night he passed away, or now – as his parents and his sister Ella try to go on living without their incredible son and brother. But it happens every day because, as we know, cancer still very much exists. If you personally knew the Witts you would realize that cancer does not discriminate. It happens to the most loving, close knit families. It happens to families that love their kids with every fiber of their being.  It happens to families who are willing to anything to keep their children alive. It happens to the most beautiful children, the most active children, the most energetic children and the most creative children. No matter how many seatbelts and helmets we put on our kids we can't stop it. Even if we hold their hand when we cross the street - it still happens. Even when we protect and love out gorgeous children with our head, heart and soul - cancer still happens. So we must do everything we can to stop it.

Gretchen and Larry started an organization called Cookies for Kids Cancer right after Liam was diagnosed. It is an inspiring organization that raises money and awareness for pediatric cancer. Here is what I have learned from them (I am going to summarize some scientific/political jargon to the best of my ability so please excuse me for oversimplifying at best).

Pediatric cancer in particular is severely underfunded. Without money, there is not enough research or medical trials – without medicine there is no cure. Without a cure families continue to lose their children.

For every 100 pediatric cancer medical trials submitted to the National Institutes of Health – only 7 will get funded. That means there are 93 trials with new, potentially life-saving, medicines waiting to be tried on kids that are dying of cancer and all that is stopping the trials from happening is money. To get a trial funded takes, on average, $100,000. 

Last year, a few of us, and apple seeds as a company, set out to raise $100,000 (the magic number). And we did. We raised over $100,00. The incredibly kind people at Glad (the plastic bag company) matched our total – putting us over the $200,000 mark. Cookies for Kids Cancer donates all funds raised directly to pediatric cancer research. With the money we raised, we funded two pediatric cancer trials. One of them was named one of the ten most significant scientific advancements in 2011 by Discover Magazine.
Because of all of you.

So here I am once again asking you to please consider giving. It can be any amount. It all helps. Look what happened last year. I obviously advocate giving to any organization that raises money and awareness for cancer research of any kind. I hope you consider giving to Cookies for Kids Cancer today. Here is our link. Thank you all so very much.

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