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October is Health Issues and Cure Research Month

Since its inception, the Foundation has donated to organizations involved in Health Issues and Cure Research. In fact, since 2012, the Foundation has donated $236,216 to these types of organizations.

In 2012, the Foundation donated to Run For The Stars, a run known to many in Wheaton, along with Special Olympics/Illinois and the American Cancer Society. Total donations: $3,500.

In 2022, the Foundation donated nearly $20,000 to these types of organizations.

Along the way, we have donated to 42 organizations, including some of the biggest health and research organizations, along with smaller organizations we felt were doing great work in their field.

Background: According to the World Health Organization, chronic diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. Which chronic disease in particular is the leading cause of death? Heart disease. See the other leading diseases below (chart is from Statista).

Would you be surprised to learn that chronic diseases “are especially widespread in developed high-income countries” (Statista). For instance, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia have become more prevalent over the last decades. Also in the U.S., diabetes has been on the rise. Not surprisingly, communicable diseases are “particularly prevalent” in undeveloped, lower-income countries.

Progress has been made, however, as medical advancements and technology continue to find different methods of treating diseases.

Alzheimer’s Disease: Believe it or not, Alzheimer’s disease was first described in 1906 by a psychiatrist in Germany (according to the Alzheimer’s Association). According to the CDC, since 2007 Alzheimer’s disease is now the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S. In the past decade, however, there has been “exciting progress” in Alzheimer’s and dementia research that is creating promising new treatments for people living with the disease. Currently, the FDA has approved drugs that treat symptoms and drugs that change disease progression. According to a campaign by the Alzheimer’s Association, “the first survivor of Alzheimer’s is out there....”.

Cancer: According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, immunotherapy has been the past decade’s “most noteworthy advance in cancer medicine.” While there were early attempts at using this type of therapy to treat cancer through nonsurgical treatments, it took “more than 100 years” to get to this point and a class of drugs called “immune checkpoint inhibitors”. These drugs “take the brakes off the immune system, enabling it to destroy cancer.” Other advances: targeted therapies, molecular diagnostics, screening and earlier detection.

Childhood Brain Tumors: The National Center for Biotechnology Information says that the outcome for the management of childhood brain tumors “has improved over the past two decades for some tumor types, most notably medulloblastomas” (the most common childhood brain tumor). It credits advances in our understanding “of the biology underlying childhood brain tumors” and says treatments may change “dramatically in the years ahead"...and that survival rates "may improve and long-term after-effects may lessen.”

Heart Disease: According to Healthcare Weekly, ONE American dies of cardiovascular disease every 38 seconds, and as mentioned above, is the leading cause of death worldwide. Currently, there are five new technologies for treating cardiovascular disease:

  • Stem cell therapy

  • Implantable defibrillators

  • Robotic sleeve (a “soft robot” that fits around the heart and helps it beat)

  • 3D bioprinted heart tissue

  • AI algorithms (a technology that could predict heart disease by looking into a patient’s eyes)

Intellectual and Development Disabilities/Adults and Kids

According to the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges), as children with autism, Down syndrome and similar disabilities reach adulthood “they face challenges navigating the health care system. Medical schools are just beginning to train physicians in how to treat them.” The AAMC also quotes the past president of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry: “With longer life expectancies, this population is growing fast...Medical schools have never kept pace with this change.” Over the past decade, there has been an ongoing awareness that there are “knowledge gaps” and health disparities” that must be addressed to help doctors, clinicians, nurses and others who treat people with intellectual and development disabilities. There are many organizations, including governmental, that are working to help intellectually disabled adults and kids, along with charitable organizations that continue to advocate for individuals through their missions to house, create special recreational centers, teach job skills and create specialized programs for them.

Focus on Children with Developmental Disabilities

According to the CDC, 1 in 10 U.S. children has been diagnosed with a developmental disability. Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the Special Olympics in 1968 believing that if kids with intellectual disabilities “were given the same opportunities and experiences as everyone else, they could accomplish far more than anyone ever thought possible.” Her vision evolved into Special Olympics International, a global movement that today serves more than 6 million kids and adults with intellectual disabilities in the United States and 200 countries. Through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities “discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success.”

Check back in a week or so for a list of the organizations to which the Foundation donated for the month of October!


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