A private campaign to raise funds for a St. Lawrence Secondary School teacher suffering from a rare form of cancer has secured more than $106,000 in less than two months, reaching its first benchmark goal of $100,000 dollars.
The We’re NUT Givin’ Up Campaign has caught fire, generating media interest from CTV and CBC, and garnering support through literally dozens of fundraising events planned to benefit Stephanie Grady, a teacher suffering from NUT midline carcinoma, an aggressive cancer that has spread to her hips, pelvis, and spine.
In order to provide the opportunity for Grady to participate in a clinical drug trial at a cancer institute in Boston, supporters have organized events ranging from online and silent auctions to athletic events and tournaments, as well as breakfasts, brunches and dinners.
“It’s incredibly overwhelming,” said campaign spokesperson Heather Lisney, of the success so far. “It’s inspiring and very humbling.”
“Stephanie and her family are so thankful for all of the kindness and generosity shown by friends, family, colleagues and students; and also complete strangers who have been “diggin’ deep” to help her. It’s a significant relief for the family knowing they can now access these funds to help with the cost of care in Boston. It’s also giving hope and providing emotional support.”
Fundraising successes so far have included: Moose Creek 4-on-4 Hockey Tournament, $28,000; We’re NUT Givin’ Up Online Donation Campaign, $37,000; Rothwell-Osnabruck School Online Auction, $8,900; church and community donations $15,000; and roast beef/spaghetti dinners, $7,500.
In addition, many more school and student initiatives are taking place, and individuals are also fundraising through small business ventures.
“There are still many future events planned all in support of the Grady family,” said Lisney. “Due to the nature of clinical trials, and the rarity of this cancer, exact costs are impossible to determine. Medical expenses can vary significantly depending on length of stay in hospital and the subsequent number of treatments, scans and tests required to treat this disease.”
“In addition, the Grady family will also be required to travel to Boston once a week to receive treatment for six months, possibly longer. As such, we don’t want to stop. We want to ensure the expenses are fully covered and that the Grady family is supported and secure during this fight.”
“In addition, we want to continue to raise awareness. One of Stephanie’s biggest challenges is the lack of answers due to the limited knowledge resulting from the rare nature of this disease.”
Following countless treatments and surgeries after an initial diagnosis of lung cancer, doctors in Ottawa offered palliative radiation for Grady to help ease her pain, declaring her condition incurable. Grady and her friends were not ready to give up.
Friends, family, teachers and other volunteers have united as “Team Grady” to create the fundraising campaign to help the 32-year-old teacher.
The goal is to continue to raise funds to send the Long Sault resident for experimental treatments at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Harvard researchers at the International NUT Midline Carcinoma Registry are using a new drug called BET Inhibitor that has been shown to shrink, and even stop, NUT midline tumour growth in human tissue. The first clinical trial began last month in various centres in the United States.
Grady is now eligible to receive a series of drug trial treatments at Dana-Farber for six months starting in May. Preliminary testing is scheduled for the end of April.
Upcoming fundraising events designed to help her family cover the treatments include:
• Major raffle featuring an NHL escape package (Tickets available from Rothwell-Osnabruck School, the Upper Canada District School Board, and Brockville Collegiate Institute)
• Benefit Volleyball Tournament at Brockville Collegiate Institute and Thousand Islands Secondary School on March 29 (8-5)
• Kelsey’s (Cornwall) Kickback Night: March 31
• Finch Hockey Tournament: April 11-13
• East-Side Mario’s (Cornwall) Silent Auction and Kickback: April 25
• Keystorm (Brockville) Benefit Pub-Night Social: April 26
• A five-kilometre staff/student and community race in Cornwall: May 4