Atlanta’s Peach Bowl Inc. has given Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta a touchdown-sized, record gift.
The bowl recently announced a historic $20 million donation (spread over the next five years) to the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s. It represents the largest donation ever given by the Peach Bowl and one of the largest ever received by Children’s. Funding will be specifically targeted to developing childhood cancer-fighting drugs the center’s physicians believe have the best chance at success.
Anna Charles “A.C.” Hollis, the 6-year-old daughter of Benji Hollis, the Peach Bowl’s vice president of sales, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia April 15, 2018. After a five-month fight, she succumbed to the disease and died Sept. 16, just over one year ago.
A.C.’s fight against the disease has served to focus the Peach Bowl’s gift and is the inspiration for the Peach Bowl LegACy Fund, named in her honor, and meant to carry on her fight.
“Right now there is an urgent need for the advancement of new drugs and treatments for childhood cancer,” Peach Bowl CEO and President Gary Stokan said in a news release. “The Peach Bowl LegACy Fund is going to take the fight right to childhood cancer until a breakthrough is made.”
Last year over 16,000 children were diagnosed with cancer in the United States. The cancer diagnosed 488 of them. Historically, one out of every five of those children will not survive.
“With this support from the Peach Bowl, we are on a mission to change how we fight cancer in the future, starting right here in our hospital. The $20 million Peach Bowl LegACy Fund is going to give hope to families in Atlanta and beyond,” Children’s CEO Donna Hyland said in a news release. “We are so thankful for the longstanding relationship between Children’s and the Peach Bowl and for the Peach Bowl’s significant investment in finding cures for kids with cancer.”
Annually, only 4% of the National Institute of Health’s federal funding for cancer research benefits childhood cancer, making it nearly impossible to move the needle on clinical trials for new drugs. In the last 40 years, only one out of every 22 cancer drugs approved was approved for use in children.
The overall goal of the Peach Bowl LegACy Fund is to ensure that high-priority novel agents, devices and treatment strategies can be tested in patients at an accelerated pace, eventually leading to additional treatment options for our patients.
“The … fund will be unique in that it will be earmarked specifically for research and clinical trials to develop more effective and less toxic treatments for our pediatric patients,” Dr. Douglas Graham, the center’s chief, said in a news release. “This is a very rare and special circumstance where the greatest need will be targeted and met with funds that can make a difference. We at the Aflac Cancer Center are very appreciative for these funds and for the potential this has to positively impact so many of our patient families.”
To provide additional longer-term funding, the Peach Bowl has committed to allocating additional dollars from other initiatives to further support the Peach Bowl LegACy Fund and its future efforts. The primary vehicle for additional future funding will come from the Peach Bowl Touchdowns for Children’s campaign, currently in its third year.
The campaign provides an opportunity for college football fans to pledge money for each touchdown their favorite team scores during the season. The Peach Bowl then matches, dollar for dollar, all money raised during the season. Over the last two seasons, it has raised $443,000 for Children’s. With the Peach Bowl match, the total raised over the last two seasons is $886,000.