Press On gives $2.5M to fund pediatric cancer research, treatment at GRU

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Press On, a donor-advised fund of The Community Foundation for the CSRA that is pushing for a cure for childhood cancer, is giving $2.5 million to fund translational pediatric cancer research and cutting-edge treatment alternatives at the GRU Cancer Center. The announcement took place during a news conference Thursday at the GRU Alumni Center.

“We are building the infrastructure in Augusta that can serve communities that don’t necessarily have the ability to travel for treatment,” said Stephen Chance, who co-founded Press On with his wife Erin.

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 10,000 children under age 15 will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Pediatric cancer research, however, is underfunded because less than 1 percent of people with cancer are children.

“When you hear there are no curative options for your child, it stops you in your tracks,” said Tara Simkins, who runs Press On with her husband Turner and with the Chances. “What options can we create for our children? That’s been the driver behind Press On. ”

The $2.5-million gift will fund the development of the Press On Translational Pediatric Oncology Program at the GRU Cancer Center to boost the discovery and deployment of new treatment alternatives for childhood cancers. This grant was made possible with the long-term commitment of Tony and Jeannie Loop and the JANUS Research Group.

“Children are our future, and we have to help them,” Jeannie Loop said. “JANUS is looking forward to working with Dr. Samir Khleif, director of the GRU Cancer Center, and Press On to help children everywhere.”

“The Chance and Simkins families have seen firsthand the traumatic physical and emotional effect cancer can have on children. I can’t thank them and the Loop family enough for making the Press On Translational Pediatric Oncology Program a reality and for ‘pressing on’ in partnering with us on innovative research,” Dr. Khleif said. “Their generosity and devotion will positively impact the lives of our youngest patients for years to come.”

Press On was founded by Stephen and Erin Chance in 2006, when their son Patrick was diagnosed with neuroblastoma — a rare type of cancer that affects nerve cells. After a long and courageous battle, Patrick died in 2012.

In 2009, Turner and Tara Simkins joined Press On after their son Brennan was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, a fast-growing blood cancer. Following years of care and an unprecedented four bone marrow transplants, Brennan is in remission.

Press On is a field of interest fund under The Community Foundation for the Central Savannah River Area‘s nonprofit umbrella. Press On invests in medical research focused on novel and less toxic therapies for neuroblastoma and AML, two deadly pediatric cancers.

For more information on what Press On is and how to donate money to the cause, visit cancer.gru.edu/presson.