When 7-year-old Jonny Wade was diagnosed with brain cancer in December of 2014, his family knew as much about pediatric cancer as the average American. “You’d see commercials with the images of these children, but you weren’t really told about them,” says Kimberly Wade, Jonny Wade’s mother and founder of the Kids Shouldn’t Have Cancer Foundation. “We were told that it was rare.”
Jonny Wade’s diagnosis came 8 days after he came home from school with his twin brother, claiming a headache. In such a short amount of time the Wades’ world was turned upside down. What little they’d thought they knew about pediatric cancer was quickly and tragically disproven.
“These treatments were horrific for a child,” Kimberly Wade says, recalling her son’s six-hour brain surgery and dozens of radiation treatments that resulted in third-degree burns. The harsh chemotherapy resulted in hearing loss, difficulty walking and the radiation created a secondary cancer that ultimately took his life. None of these were side effects the Wade family had known would happen. “It’s amazing how little awareness is brought up,” Kimberly Wade says.
Researching what their son was going through, the family learned that the National Cancer Institute only puts 4 percent of their funding into pediatric cancer research – for more than 100 types. Kimberly Wade recalls Jonny Wade speaking to their congressman and that, when asked what would make him happy, he responded, “I want more than 4 percent.”
Jonny Wade wasn’t able to bring his advocacy for more representation to Washington, though. He passed away at home on Christmas Eve, not a full year after his diagnosis. Three weeks later, Kimberly Wade began the Kids Shouldn’t Have Cancer Foundation, named after what had become Jonny’s mantra in his last months, as a way to raise public awareness,fund pediatric cancer research and ultimately find better treatments and a cure.
The foundation has gained serious ground in the years since its inception. With chapters in St. Louis and Dallas, and more forming, it has raised more than a million dollars and has given multiple grants for cancer research. “We’ve done amazing things because of the wonderful support of people throughout the world,” Kimberly Wade says. “People come to us and say Jonny made an impact in their lives and now they really want to make an impact in others’.”
The foundation’s 4th Annual Gala, A Night to Remember, will be held on September 7, at the Hilton at The Ballpark. It will include food and music, both live and silent auctions, and continue the Gala’s tradition of honoring five children with pediatric cancer. Information on how to register can be found on its website.
The foundation website also gives instructions on how to donate, but Kimberly Wade encourages that people reach out and get involved. “We really want to show these children and their families that we’re here to support them and truly make a difference.”
A NIGHT TO REMEMBER 4TH ANNUAL GALA
Saturday, September 7, at 6 p.m.
Hilton at The Ballpark
Dinner, live music, amazing live and silent auction items along with some special St. Louis guests! The Gala will continue its tradition of honoring five brave children with pediatric cancer. Please attend and give them your support so they know how special they are.