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Alumni Battling Childhood Cancers

Back in November Stephen R. Chance of the Class of 1989 and his family stopped by Lexington on their way back to Atlanta from Philadelphia. Stephen decided to show his family around his alma mater. As he walked across the footbridge, he spotted a banner for St. Jude Childrens’ Research Hospital from the University’s group of the “Up ’til Dawn” fundraising program for St. Jude. The banner had special meaning to Stephen and his family since they were on their way back from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where six-year-old Patrick was being treated for relapsed stage IV Neuroblastoma, for which there is no known cure. You can read about the Chances and Patrick’s battle on the family’s Press On Web site. Coincidentally, Stephen grew up with another W&L alum, Turner Simkins of the Class of 1987, and his wife, Tara Rice Simkins. The Simkins’ son, Brennan, 7, has relapsed acute myeloid leukemia and, even as Stephen was spotting the St. Jude banner on W&L’s footbridge, the Simkins were actually at St. Jude where Brennan was undergoing continued chemotherapy in preparation for a second transplant. According to Stephen, Patrick’s and Brennan’s chances are similarly very poor, and the two families have established, Press On to CURE Childhood Cancer, a named fund under the auspices of CURE Childhood Cancer, Inc., to raise money in support of research. When Stephen returned to Atlanta last month, he sent a note to W&L relating his experience in Lexington and expressing his thanks for the Up ’til Dawn fundraiser for St. Jude. “I have never been more proud of W&L than I was at that moment,” he wrote. In the weeks since that initial email from Stephen, current student organizers of W&L’s Up ’til Dawn event have been in contact with the Chances as planning for the Feb. 9, 2010, fundraiser goes forward. Stay tuned.

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