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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Walk benefits tumor research

The second annual Tucson Walk-A-Thon, held in support of brain tumor research will take place Saturday. The Students Supporting Brain Tumor Research club teamed with the UA’s Steele Children’s Research Center to host the event. They aspire to raise $20,000.

Shannon Timms, marketing junior and Students Supporting Brain Tumor Research club co-president, served as co-chair of a Students Supporting Brain Tumor Research Walk-A-Thon in high school and helped plan a walk in Phoenix in 2007.

“”Not many people knew about it here in Tucson,”” Timms said, but added that she met a lot of people who were affected or knew people affected by brain tumors.

Timms, along with marketing junior and co-president Lindsey Erlick, started the club at the UA last year. They are responsible for planning the entire student-run walk.

“”My friend in high school passed away from a brain tumor; there are a lot of people affected,”” Erlick said. “”There is brain tumor research going on at the (Universty Medical Center), so it’s cool to have an organization down here.””

Section-head of pediatric oncology at the University Medical Center Dr. Emmanuel Katsanis, says that brain tumor patients make up the second-largest population of children with cancer.

“”My research lab focuses on immunotherapy of cancer which means stimulating the immune system to fight different cancers,”” Katsanis said. “”So even though we don’t specifically work to fight brain tumors, what we do fights them as well.””

Katsanis explained that he has developed a vaccine for which the UA owns the patent. A small bio-tech company obtained the licensing rights and is about to start clinical trials in Israel on patients with brain tumors.

“”It’s not a vaccine that prevents, it’s to treat or prevent it (the cancer) from coming back,”” Katsanis said. “”The research that we’re doing is not specifically for brain tumors, it’s just starting clinical trials for brain tumors.””

Katsanis will explain the research at the end of Saturday’s walk. He says he appreciates any fundraising, particularly for pediatric cancer research. Since cancer is more common in adults, there is typically more interest in funding drugs to treat adult-onset cancers.

“”We’re always very supportive for students or anybody who does something like that,”” he said.

Last year’s walk attracted over 500 walkers and raised over $7,500. This year the two expect 500-700 people and $20,000.

“”We have a $10,000 sponsorship from the Arizona Diamondbacks and all the money is going to the UA Steele Children’s Research Center,”” Timms said.

The Students Supporting Brain Tumor Research club has 10 members who have all helped with marketing the walk.

“”We were able to reach a greater audience this year by targeting Greek Life, Residence Life and different organizations and colleges,”” Timms said.

Their sponsors include Diamondback Drugs, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, who paid for the use of the UA Mall, table and chair rental and advertisements. The event will feature live music, free food and raffle prizes such as a two-night stay at the Marriott. The walk will begin at the UA Mall, continue to the Diamond Children’s Medical Center and return to the Mall for closing ceremonies, where a Diamondbacks player will present the $10,000 check.

“”Our walk is really unique because over 95 percent of all the money goes to brain tumor research,”” Erlick said. “”By getting sponsorships, we really cover everything.””

Timms says the average non-profit organization donates 80 percent of profits to their cause because they have to worry about administration costs.

The two said the club is always looking to grow, but they are just happy to get other clubs involved. They receive many e-mails from students who want to help in any way they can.

“”Even though we’re a really small club, we get a lot of other clubs involved, which is what we’re all about: Getting the whole U of A community and Tucson community involved in supporting brain tumor research,”” Erlick said.

Timms said they met a freshman who is interested in taking over the club once they graduate and have made plans for her to shadow them next year.

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