There was a very special boy in Charlotte that has touched the hearts of many. Although his life ended very early to a battle with cancer, Grier Christenbury's playful spirit is alive and well. He is working through others throughout the city to help win the battle and raise money for the fight against cancer in children, which is the number one disease killer in children in the US.
In 2007, at the age of 2 1/2 Grier was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma cancer. Neuroblastoma (NB) is the most common extracranial solid cancer in childhood and the most common cancer in infancy, with an incidence of about 650 cases per year in the U.S. It most frequently originates in one of the adrenal glands, but can also develop in nerve tissues in the neck, chest, abdomen, or pelvis. After receiving the devastating news from the doctors, Grier's parents, Amy and Jeff, decided upon Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City for his treatment. It was here that Amy met Gretchen Holt-Witt a tenacious mother who's son, Liam was going through a war with Neuroblastoma as well. A bond cultivated between the two. Amy soon learned that Gretchen was a mover and shaker. Through Liam's journey, Gretchen and her husband Larry were shocked at the statistics and the lack of funding and inadequacies of research and treatments for childhood cancer.
So Gretchen took matters into her own hands. Deciding that she wanted to help make a difference, she founded Cookies for Kids' Cancer which would provide funding directly to pediatric cancer research at the top hospitals in the nation. So in 2007 in New York, Gretchen began with baking 96,000 cookies. This massive bake sell yielded a whopping $420,000 which was enough to fund a new treatment trial for pediatric cancer that is in use today at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
It is through Gretchen's passion and support that in 2008, Amy had the first Charlotte bake sale for Cookies for Kids' Cancer. What started off as a bake sale in Amy's front yard, took off by leaps and bounds and turned into an annual event around Charlotte- inspiring city wide locations in December. Over the years, friends and family have gotten quite creative with the fundraising events. Here are just a few: "30
Days for a cure ", a 5k race, "Chefs for Kids' Cancer", a dinner with the best local chefs and mixologists in the city, a poker tournament, "Brews for Kids" where local breweries host and give proceeds to the cause and Cookies for Kids' Cancer Clubs at Charlotte Country Day and Myers Park High Schools. Just last year alone, all of the events in the area raised an incredible $380,000 and since they started, they have raised over a million dollars for childhood cancer research.
Despite Grier's battle through the years, he attended and fully participated in the fundraising events. Everyone fell in love with his determination and incredible will to live. Through all the surgeries, procedures, treatments and side effects from the medications, Grier continued to remain positive and entertained all with his witty sense of humor. His parents could have very well sheltered him from the outside world, but instead they gave him all the love and support needed to continue living an active lifestyle through it all. He was known to go straight from a treatment to the field for baseball and soccer practices or games.
In 2013 at the age of 9, after 6 1/2 years of battling Neuroblastoma, Grier's treatment options ran out and he/we lost his battle to cancer. BUT his legacy lives on. Through Amy and all the other's hard work fighting the war on pediatric cancer, there is hope for better treatment options for our children.
If you find yourself wanting to wear some orange, smiling at a sunset or hearing The Black Eye Peas, "I've Got a Feeling", that's Grier getting your attention and sending you a message, "We need your help to make a difference!"
If you would like to find out more on how you can BE A GOOD COOKIE, visit Cookies for Kids Cancer
Since its inception, Cookies for Kids' Cancer has spread like wildfire across communities everywhere in the U.S. It has provided over 10 million dollars in grants for pediatric cancer research, which equates to over 80 research grants and 32 new therapies for children with cancer today.
Find out how Grier inspired me.
The Kind Hearted Princess and The Mighty Spirited Prince,
my first children's book.
You can find my images from some of my travels available for purchase at:
iStock by Getty Images
Fotolia by Adobe: us.fotolia.com/p/206433466
They are also available for purchase as prints and on many great products at:
at Balboa Press