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2nd Annual Will Irwin Golf Tournament, Another Success for Research

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The 2nd Annual Will Irwin Memorial Charity Golf Event was another success in raising the necessary funds to move research forward. Since its inception, this event has raised over $560,000 for leading-edge research. Proceeds from the 1st Annual Will Irwin Memorial Charity Golf Event last year were directed to support these 3 top researchers & institutions:

Ashley Plant-Fox, MD at Lurie Children’s Hospital: DIPG Phase 1 Clinical Trial. This trial has the potential to extend survival rates for patients who are diagnosed with DIPG, the deadliest form of childhood brain cancer.

Michelle Monje, MD, Ph.D. at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital – Stanford: Effective therapy for pediatric high-grade gliomas. Her lab has laid the foundation for three new clinical trials that will be opening for enrollment in 2020 for children with pediatric high-grade glial malignancies.

Rajkumar Venkatramani, MD at Texas Children’s Hospital: The Rare Tumors program at Texas Children’s Hospital is dedicated to the care of children with rare pediatric cancers. The aim of the proposed study is to understand the molecular basis of rare sarcomas which can potentially lead to better treatments.

Stay tuned to learn more about the researchers your dollars will be funding from this year’s tournament!

The tournament was started by the Irwin family in memory of William, their first child who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer when he was only 3 months old. Will fought hard for 5 months, and despite the efforts of his amazing team of doctors and nurses, Will passed away on May 31st, 2019. Will’s cancer, which is still undiagnosed, was too aggressive for his tiny body and his young age limited his treatment options.

Will’s legacy will be that every child facing the challenge of pediatric cancer will be able to hear the words, “We have a cure.”

Each year, the Irwin family chooses a special honoree who displays the brave characteristics of a true warrior – fighting the bravest of battles. This year’s honoree is Mia Rugienius, an ALL warrior who just finished treatment in September.

“As the youngest of four, Mia was a very happy and active preschooler.  With sudden ankle pain, bruising, low-grade fevers and persistently being cold, it came as a shock that Mia needed to be admitted to CHOC in the summer of 2014.  After many tests, Mia was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) Type B and began treatment immediately.  Not able to attend 1st grade, Mia lived through chemotherapy, medications, and surgical procedures for two and a half years.  Missing many aspects of childhood, Mia saw light and love with all those that cared for her, while achieving remission.

 With current cancer research and clinical studies, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia’s initial prognosis rate is 90-95%.  Remission for Mia was abruptly cut short, with a heartbreaking relapse after her 12th birthday in January 2020.   Mia came to CHLA for an intense chemotherapy protocol under world-renowned oncologists, where she is waging her battle against leukemia, again.  Research has yet to determine the main factors for relapse.  The experience of fear, physical, and emotional pain of a relapsed cancer cannot be measured.

 Life in and out of a hospital for a child, especially during COVID, comes with a heavy burden. However, the blessing of hope and a cure for ALL and every pediatric cancer is revealed in Mia’s constant smiles, humility, and spirit.  Together with her family, friends, and faithful church community, Mia is resolved to ending every child’s struggle experiencing cancer.  Her dream is to advocate for children, like Angel Will Irwin and Brynn, and is honored to be named this year’s “Will’s Warrior!” – Mia’s Mom

Click here to support or make a gift in memory of Will.