Each year, Children’s Cancer Research Fund presents Butterfly Awards to individuals, organizations and teams that have contributed significant time and resources to ending childhood cancer. These are the people that make the pursuit of our mission possible. We are grateful for the time, talent and passion and shared by this year’s award recipients.
We first met the Vaith family after their daughter, Brooklyn, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2015. They generously shared their story with us in 2016, and since then have served as ambassadors for numerous CCRF events. They’ve appeared on KARE11 to promote supporting cancer research and have spoken at CCRF events and they’ve helped CCRF promote Great Cycle Challenge many times with photos and updates of Brooklyn and the family. In short, the Vaiths have said ‘yes’ to every opportunity to share Brooklyn’s story and advocate for CCRF’s mission. They let us into their lives during the highest and lowest points of Brooklyn’s cancer journey, and inspired us with their resilience and hope. We’re so lucky to have met a family who has been so generous with their time and story.
In addition to serving as Board Chair for CCRF, Charlie has gone above and beyond to raise awareness for our mission. This cause is close to his heart – Charlie’s son, Nick, was diagnosed with cancer during his senior year of high school. This past June, Charlie rode over 3,400 miles across the United States during this year’s Great Cycle Challenge to raise awareness and funds for research. He documented his journey on his own blog, which hundreds of family, friends and supporters used to follow his ambitious trip, and Nick met him in Boston on the last leg of his ride. During his five years of riding in Great Cycle Challenge, he has raised over $46,000. Charlie’s dedication to raising awareness and funds for research blows us away.
Maddison Mertz’s Miracles
When their daughter Maddison passed away from brain cancer in 2017, her parents, Zack and Lindsay, and their friends were determined to raise funds to find better treatments for the disease that took Maddison. Since her passing, Maddison Mertz’s Miracles was created. Their friends have held several events to help honor Maddison while raising awareness and funds. Trick or Treat for Maddison has adults and kids dressed up in pink, Maddison’s favorite color, and “trick-or-treating” for donations in May during Brain Cancer Awareness Month. In July, Maddison Mertz’s Miracles had their first Race for Research, a 5K run and carnival held in Excelsior that raised over $20K. The Mertz family have shared their story at various events to inspire others, including this past February at an event that ultimately raised nearly $1 million for the CD200 clinical trial for brain tumors. We are forever grateful to the Mertz family and Maddison Mertz’s Miracles for their dedication to creating a world without childhood cancer.
Lucie Turcotte, MD, MPH, MS
Lucie Turcotte is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on short-term and long-term outcomes and preventing and treating secondary cancers in childhood cancer survivors. She has established herself as an expert in the epidemiology of second cancers in childhood cancer survivors as well as transplant survivorship, with many publications in high-impact journals. She has also been the recipient of an NIH K08 award to determine how best to manage secondary breast cancer in childhood cancer survivors. Her dedication to her patients, from diagnosis through survivorship, is inspiring.
Liz has been a Care Partners family volunteer since 2009, offering support and a listening ear to 10 families during their long stay for a bone marrow transplant. To describe Liz as friendly, outgoing, trustworthy and a good listener doesn’t begin to paint a picture of how skillfully she connects with patients and families. She is often one of the first people a family calls if a child’s condition takes a turn for the worse. Liz’s compassion is driven by personal experience – her brother passed away after a three-year battle with leukemia, which included transplant. We can’t thank Liz enough for her dedication to these families.
Jen has supported CCRF’s Dream event since she was in high school when her mom, Debbie, was a volunteer coordinator. She has continued helping with this event for over 20 years in memory of her cousin, Christina Bucker. Nearly 10 years ago, Jen took over volunteer coordinator duties and has been integral to the CCRF team as many elements of the event evolved. She has a great head for logistics, and CCRF’s event staff has been grateful to have her steady and helpful presence. Her dedication to our cause is truly unmatched.
Greg Kaiser and Connie Mertens
Greg and Connie are familiar faces at nearly every CCRF event – whether they are behind the camera, inside our C.C. Bear mascot suit or escorting C.C. Bear around events. They’ve given their time on countless weekends and weeknights to support CCRF’s efforts and show their dedication to kids who are fighting cancer. Their daughter, Liz, is a 14-year survivor and their personal dedication to the cause is clear in everything they do. Greg and Connie have certainly become part of the CCRF family over the years, saying ‘yes’ to last minute requests time after time. We don’t know what we’d do without their talent and support.
Travel Beyond has been a partner to Children’s Cancer Research Fund since 2013. They’ve generously provided auction items for CCRF’s Dawn of a Dream and Dream events. In addition to their Dream contributions, Travel Beyond donates a percentage of profits all year any time a client booking a trip mentions CCRF. Their generosity has enhanced the event experience for our guests, helping families create incredible memories through travel, and helped us raise millions for childhood cancer research.