Cuccione Foundation Donates $5 million to Cancer Research at BC Children's

On the 10th anniversary of Michael Cuccione's passing, his family shows he's still making a difference

VANCOUVER, Jan. 11 /CNW/ - The Michael Cuccione Foundation is donating $5 million to support the childhood cancer research program at the Child & Family Research Institute at BC Children's Hospital, now named the Michael Cuccione Foundation Childhood Cancer Research Program. The gift, the largest ever to cancer research at BC Children's, was announced during an event at the research institute, where the program is based.

"We're proud to build on Michael's legacy with this gift," said his mother, Gloria Cuccione. "Since he passed away we've seen tremendous progress in the treatment of childhood cancers thanks to research. Even so, cancer still claims the lives of far too many children, and our fight on Michael's behalf continues."

The donation comes on the 10th anniversary of the passing of Michael Cuccione whose determination to make a difference led to the creation of a foundation in his name. Michael was born on January 5, 1985 in Burnaby, BC. He was a singer, songwriter, dancer, actor, and motivational speaker and became a dedicated crusader in the fight against childhood cancer. Michael won his personal battle with cancer, but died in 2001 of respiratory illness.

"The passion Michael Cuccione showed when he set his sights on fighting pediatric cancer clearly lives on in the hearts of his family and friends," said Teri Nicholas, president and CEO of BC Children's Hospital Foundation. "He really has made a difference for the many British Columbians whose lives have been touched by childhood cancer."

Twenty years ago, 50 per cent of children diagnosed with cancer in British Columbia died. Today, due to advances in research, clinical care and treatment, Health Canada reports three-year survival rates for childhood cancer exceed 80 per cent. Overall mortality from childhood cancer still exceeds all other major pediatric diseases and the implications of the long-term effects of cancer for young survivors are increasingly profound.

"Support from the Michael Cuccione Foundation has enabled us to recruit and retain leading cancer researchers," said Dr. Kirk Schultz, head of the Michael Cuccione Foundation Childhood Cancer Research Program at the Child & Family Research Institute. "This gift gives our research program the ability to realize critical mass and greater stability, and gives our researchers greater confidence that they can achieve their goals."

The Michael Cuccione Foundation Childhood Cancer Research Program is focused on three main areas of activity: cell signaling and genetics; immunity, immune response and bone marrow transplants; and clinical research.

About Michael Cuccione
During Michael Cuccione's battle with cancer he wrote his own songs and released a CD titled "Make A Difference" to support childhood cancer research. By the time he was 11, he had raised $130,000 through sales of his CD and started the Michael Cuccione Foundation. Before his passing at the age of 16, he had funded two endowments at the Child & Family Research Institute at BC Children's Hospital to fund young researchers and raised over $2 million. Michael's family committed to continuing his work and to uphold his legacy. The foundation is responsible for previous contributions in support of cancer research at BC Children's Hospital totaling $5 million. For information visit www.childhoodcancerresearch.org.

About the Child & Family Research Institute
CFRI conducts discovery, clinical and applied research to benefit the health of children and families. It is the largest institute of its kind in Western Canada. CFRI works in close partnership with UBC; BC Children's Hospital and Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, BC Women's Hospital & Health Centre, agencies of PHSA; and BC Children's Hospital Foundation. CFRI has additional important relationships with British Columbia's five regional health authorities and with B.C. academic institutions Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria, the University of Northern British Columbia, and the British Columbia Institute of Technology. For more information, visit www.cfri.ca.

About BC Children's Hospital
BC Children's Hospital is the province's only full-service acute care hospital and serves the one million children living in BC and the Yukon. All children who are seriously ill or injured are referred to Children's Hospital and are either treated at the hospital facility in Vancouver or, with consultation from Children's specialists, in their home community. Last year, more than 78,000 children were treated at Children's Hospital. BC Children's Hospital Foundation received donations from more than 120,000 people last year and had revenues of over $56.4 million. Funds raised by the foundation are used to support BC Children's Hospital, Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children and the Child & Family Research Institute. For more information, visit www.bcchf.ca.

SOURCE BC Children's Hospital Foundation

For further information:

Stephen Forgacs     Gloria Cuccione
Director, Communications     Director (and Michael's mother)
BC Children's Hospital Foundation   Michael Cuccione Foundation
Phone: 604-875-2338     Phone: 604-552-2850
Cell: 604-719-4381     E-mail: Cuccione@telus.net
E-mail: sforgacs@bcchf.ca   

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