As many of you know, the Joe Andruzzi Foundation has a deeply-rooted connection and commitment to raising awareness for the need to significantly increase research behind cures for pediatric brain tumors.
It all started during the first year that Joe was playing for the New England Patriots – way before the Joe Andruzzi Foundation was born. In our spare time, Joe and I would visit ill patients in area hospitals because we both were passionate about making a difference.
Around 2001, we met an amazing, inspiring boy – C.J. Buckley – who had just been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at Boston Children’s Hospital. Under the watchful eye of Dr. Mark Kieran, C.J. received the best possible care for his condition, and always remained courageous and upbeat.
There was something about meeting C.J., his parents, sister and grandmother that stood out to Joe and I. We truly related to them. Like Joe and I would, his parents were so dedicated to getting him the best possible care in the world, and our kids connected with the Buckley’s despite their different ages. I still remember C.J. playing video games with our son – Hunter – even when he was feeling under the weather. C.J.’s commitment to positivity inspires Joe and I – along with our entire foundation – to this day.
Since then, the Buckley family became part of our extended family, and when C.J. passed away in 2002 at the age 17, he truly left a hole in our hearts. In his memory, we wanted to do something lasting that would honor his courage and spirit – and from there, we created the C.J. Buckley Pediatric Brain Cancer Research Fund at Boston Children’s Hospital in 2003. Our youngest child, C.J., is also named him his honor.
A few years later, Joe and I, of course, created the Joe Andruzzi Foundation – focusing on assisting patients and their families with the financial burdens of cancer – but we have continued to annually support the C.J. Buckley Pediatric Brain Cancer Research Fund and the groundbreaking work of Dr. Mark Kieran. Dr. Kieran has always been an integral part of our lives, and we are so proud to have him in JAF’s corner. In fact, when Joe was diagnosed with cancer himself in 2007, Dr. Kieran was one of the first people we called.
Just a few short months ago, we received some devastating news from one of our long-time supporters and original Team JAF Boston Marathon runner – Tim Weeks: his daughter, Norah, had been diagnosed with the same type of brain cancer as C.J. battled 14-years ago. Tim actually worked with C.J. Buckley’s
older sister, Helen, seven years ago, and serendipitously, Norah is currently receiving treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital under the tremendous care of Dr. Kieran.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Norah, Tim, and the entire Weeks family – we know they are in good hands, and Tim has assured our foundation that his daughter is ferociously fighting the disease with determination and an upbeat spirit.
Unfortunately, too many families are faced with similar diagnosis’s as the Buckley’s and the Weeks’ – and that’s why the work and research Dr. Kieran is doing at Children’s is so important.
Earlier this month, Joe and I, along with Anne Furey – a JAF Board Member – visited Dr. Kieran at Boston Children’s Hospital to present the Joe Andruzzi Foundation’s annual $100,000 donation towards the C.J. Buckley Brain Cancer Research Fund. The visit marked our seventh straight year contributing to the fund, totaling $700,000 since 2009.
It was so great to hear Dr. Kieran speak on the extent of his research – centering on the molecular nature of pediatric brain tumors, novel therapies and surgical alternatives – and how JAF’s contributions are assisting in the fight to uncover more effective treatments for patients. Dr. Kieran has a way of putting everything in layman’s terms and helping you fully understand the complexities and challenges that his research is navigating. Still, progress is being made each day, and we are proud to play whatever role we can in supporting his fight against the disease.
And finally, please keep Norah and the entire Weeks family in your thoughts and prayers as they continue their battle against a disease we one-day hope to eliminate.