I'm Competing for CURE Childhood Cancer

My involvement with CURE Childhood Cancer began when a child in our son's school was diagnosed with cancer. My wife and I started out volunteering to help with dinner and other needs. Once we learned more about childhood cancer and the number of kids who are diagnosed with it each year, as well as just how little was being done at the time in terms of funding, we decided to get more involved.

My family and I now help promote CURE Childhood Cancer as much as we can. Most recently, I am competing in a Charity Challenge from Club Diamond Nation, an online virtual baseball and softball academy site, where I am a resident star serving instruction and exclusive videos to players. In the Charity Challenge, I am competing against other baseball and softball stars to try and get the most votes from my fans to win the prize donation for CURE Childhood Cancer. My wife also does extraordinary work with a special fundraising luncheon she hosts every year called Quiet Heroes. It's a wonderful, much-deserved tribute to moms of kids who have or have had cancer.

CURE Childhood Cancer was started almost 30 years ago in Atlanta by Emory University's first pediatric oncologist, Dr. Abdel Ragab. At that time, there was a glaring need not only for a pediatric oncology research program, but also for programs that would support families whose children were facing cancer. There wasn't much funding for all this, so Dr. Ragab and a group of parents created CURE Childhood Cancer and started raising money.

The first funds were raised to purchase new equipment, including a microscope that could help diagnose various kinds of childhood leukemia. Eventually, thanks to donations from CURE, Emory University started a temporary research lab, which then became an outpatient clinic and finally a permanent childhood cancer research lab with more than 3,500 square feet of space. Today, the childhood cancer research program at Emory is one of the largest pediatric oncology programs in the country.

What separates CURE from most other cancer-related organizations is its relentless focus on the future. Other groups frame their treatments, support programs and facilities around what today's medicine can offer. And there's certainly a place for that. However, CURE looks ahead to the medicine of tomorrow. It does all it can to help researchers on their quest for the cure. CURE makes sure these experts have access to educational and research updates from partners like the National Institute of Health, National Cancer Institute and the Children's Oncology Group.

Thanks to research funded by CURE, some exciting things are happening in this field. Researchers at Emory continue to test new therapies and drugs. In fact, a partnership between Emory and the National Cancer Institute -- supported by CURE funds -- has resulted in the testing of a new drug aimed at pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The results have been very encouraging.

Not all of CURE's victories have been research-oriented. They've made legislative inroads as well. One of Dr. Ragab's first patients was a boy who had leukemia. Unfortunately, insurance wouldn't cover an experimental drug for his treatment. After the boy died, his father and CURE called upon the Georgia legislature to support a bill that would require state insurers to support experimental therapies for childhood cancer. The act passed and has greatly influenced pediatric cancer clinical trials.

Combining Club Diamond Nation with CURE has been a blessing for me because it allows me to use the game I love to help promote a cause that I am passionate about. Through its Charity Challenge, Club Diamond Nation will help us raise awareness of CURE as well as raise much-needed money to help fund research.

Please vote for me in the Diamond Nation Charity Challenge at www.clubdiamondnation.com and help support CURE Childhood Cancer.