Research projects

Sammy’s Superheroes donates 200k to research projects | Local

About nine years after its founding, local nonprofit Sammy’s Superheroes continues to help fight childhood cancer with a recent $200,000 donation to two research projects.

Sammy’s Superheroes – which is based in Columbus – was founded in 2013 by Erin and Chris Nahorny after their son, Sammy, was diagnosed with cancer in 2012. In late 2019, the nonprofit organization donated his millionth dollar for childhood cancer research, said Erin Nahorny, chair of the board of directors of the Sammy’s Superheroes Foundation.

“People in our community have supported this from the very beginning,” Nahorny said. “We’ve had a lot of children affected by cancer in Columbus and Platte County and surrounding counties.”

Nahorny added that one can never know when they will be affected by childhood cancer.

“Only 4% of the federal cancer research budget goes to childhood cancers. And so it’s really nonprofits, small nonprofits like us, that are really filling that void,” Nahorny said.

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Each year, foundation officials select projects to donate to, and in 2021 began a collaboration with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer.

“They (Alex’s Lemonade Stand) have this huge group of medical professionals who serve as a medical advisory board,” Nahorny said, noting the group’s vetting process when it comes to research projects. “We felt we could really use to make sure that what we’re giving to is the best possible research that’s going on right now.”

The Sammy’s Superheroes Foundation donated $100,000 to Dr. Yael Mossé of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and $100,000 to Dr. Mariella Filbin of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

According to a press release from Sammy’s Superheroes, Mossé’s goal will be to develop targeted drugs for MYCN, an “indelible” driver of childhood cancer, over the next four years. The hope with this project is to prove that the drugs they are developing are effective against the deadliest childhood cancers and to be ready to start a clinical trial after the grant ends in 2025.

For Filbin’s “A” grant, she and her team are using a CRISPR gene-editing method to knock out specific genes they have identified as possible antagonists of “developmental programs in high-grade gliomas.” brainstem and hemisphere,” according to the press release. The aim is to identify new targets for drug development and lay the foundations for new treatment strategies.

Michelle Sell, a Columbus physician who serves on the board of Sammy’s Superheroes Foundation, said the nonprofit was thrilled to donate to both of these projects and to work with Alex’s Lemonade Stand.

“It maximizes our dollars that we donate and makes sure they go to projects that are really proven and successful and have the potential to bring about good change,” Sell said.

Sell ​​helps choose research projects that will benefit the foundation. She said she was ‘disgusted’ by the amount of childhood cancers seen locally.

“It’s the best way I can find to concretely address it,” Sell said.

Nahorny noted that Sammy’s superheroes are greatly supported by Columbus businesses that sponsor events and smaller stores that contribute by hosting fundraisers. The community also donates to the cause with individual donations and those who donate money through their work.

“We’ve always said No. 1 is awareness,” Nahorny said. “So people need to know how much of a problem it is. And then with that comes funding and comes research and ultimately hopefully cures for these children.

Hannah Schrodt is the editor of the Columbus Telegram. Contact her by email at [email protected]