DIY Fundraising Highlight – Dr. Alpay Temiz

Dr. Alpay Temiz earned a PhD in Philosophy, Biochemistry, and Molecular Genetics from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 2008. For the past 9 years, Temiz has worked at the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Cancer Center where he conducts research focused on osteosarcoma, NF1 syndrome and MPNST.

Dr. Temiz worked very closely with a young man named Bryant Keller. Keller was a new addition to the lab and being a graduate student Temiz instantly took him under his wing. Keller was working on NF1 syndrome, a genetic disorder that leads to multiple different cancer types. His focus was on developing new therapeutic interventions for children battling cancer. Temiz described Keller as young, extremely bright, and strongly believed the work he was doing could make a real impact on the future of childhood cancer.

Unfortunately, Keller suddenly passed away just three months shy of earning a PhD in Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology and Genetics. After Keller passed away, Temiz felt motivated to honor him and keep the great research he was conducting going. Temiz decided to start a fundraiser in his memory to not only honor Keller and his family, but also to help other researchers finish what Keller started.

We got the chance to talk to Temiz to learn a bit more about why he became a fundraiser, what part of the experience stands out to him, what others should know about DIY fundraising, and what he hopes this money makes possible for children fighting cancer.

Dr. Temiz told us that because of his line of work he has always had a professional connection to childhood cancer rather than an emotional connection. When he lost Keller, and the work Keller was doing stopped, the connection became personal. Temiz also stated that by working in this environment he can see firsthand how difficult it is to conduct research because of how little funding childhood cancer research receives, “Children's cancer research is almost always underfunded and any dollar we raise here will make a big contribution towards finding new therapeutics and cures for childhood cancers” said Temiz.

Dr. Temiz also gave us some great advice to share with anyone who may be considering starting their own fundraiser in honor of a loved one. Temiz stated that the hardest part about fundraising is asking people for money, this is his advice: “There is no shame in asking. Even a very small donation helps reach the ultimate goal. Key is to reach out to as many people as possible and explain why you are asking for money and how that money will be spent.  Nothing is easy and fundraising is hard. Keep asking, keep working at it.

After fundraising for the past 2 years, Temiz has surpassed his goal. In 2021 the goal for the fundraiser was $8,000. After tons of support from friends, colleagues, and kind strangers, Temiz was able to raise just over $20,000 in 2021. Temiz hopes that the money he has raised can help launch impactful research towards curing childhood cancer. Temiz trusted CCRF as his platform for fundraising because he believes in the mission of funding innovative and out of the box treatments. If you are interested in starting a fundraiser of your own in honor of a loved one, please visit Be a Fundraiser - CCRF for information and resources to get started!

Dr. Alpay Temiz

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