Benefit raises awareness, funds for pediatric brain tumor research

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By KAYLA J. MARSH
Staff Writer

The Oceanport nonprofit Kortney Rose Foundation is once again teaming up with Turning Point restaurants to host the seventh annual “Great Food for a Great Cause” to help raise awareness and funds for pediatric brain tumor research.

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“Turning Point is one of Kortney Rose Foundation’s largest corporate sponsors, and we have grown so much with them and are so grateful and fortunate,” said Kristen Gillette, Kortney Rose Foundation founder and president.

“They are great partners and are just so supportive of us, and we are really lucky to have them aligned with us.”

“Great Food for a Great Cause” will take place Feb. 27 and 28 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at the 11 Turning Point restaurants in Brick, Cherry Hill, Hoboken, Holmdel, Little Silver, Long Branch, Manalapan, Marlton, Princeton, Sea Girt and Westfield.

Guests at Turning Point who donate a minimum of $25 to the Kortney Rose Foundation on either day will receive a Turning Point gift card good for two free entrées that can be used at any of the restaurants.

Guests who donate $50 will get two gift cards for four free entrées, and guests who donate $60 will get the two gift cards and a large Turning Point ceramic mug.

“Last year we raised over $51,000 for pediatric brain tumor research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), so we are really excited,” Gillette said.

“I had met a guy at the event last year whose wife was at that time at a funeral for a family member who passed [from] the same tumor as Kortney, and I got to chatting with him, and he gave me his card and [I] saw he owned a doormat manufacturing company … and they ended up creating an awareness doormat for brain tumor awareness for us … so the first five people who donate $100 will receive one of these mats if they want it.”

According to Gillette, approximately four percent of federal funding goes towards research aimed at finding cures for the different types of childhood cancers.

“The kind of tumor Kortney had was very rare, and there have actually been children in other local towns that have recently passed from the same tumor, and we had another child in our town die from a different brain tumor, so it is pretty prevalent — much more than people think,” Gillette said.

Today, more than 3,500 children are diagnosed annually with brain tumors, and it is the number one cancer cause of death in children 20 and under, Gillette said.

Kortney Rose Gillette passed away from a terminal brainstem glioma in April 2006, four months after her diagnosis, and her parents set up the foundation to honor her legacy and help other children through the promise of research.

“This tumor that Kortney had — there’s absolutely no therapy for it and every child dies from it, so from day one I have always wanted to fund research for that specific tumor,” Gillette said.

According to Gillette, since its inception, the Kortney Rose Foundation has raised funds to build a playground at Wolf Hill Elementary in Oceanport, Kortney’s old school and hosts Kortney’s Challenge, an annual family fun run/walk held at Monmouth Park Racetrack each August. The foundation has also worked with local legislators to make May Brain Tumor Awareness Month throughout the state.

Last year, the foundation reached a milestone, donating more than $1 million to the pediatric brain tumor research program at CHOP.

Ninety-five percent of every dollar donated to the foundation goes directly to this research, and the foundation has also helped to establish the hospital’s Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium.

“We are really excited,” Gillette said. “CHOP is about to embark on a very large-scale collaborative, multi-institution research project that is geared toward finding some answers, and they are going to collaborate and share the findings from all the different research that different institutions are doing so … we are very excited to help fund that.

“Setting up a foundation is a huge undertaking, and not everyone can do it, and there are a lot of people who … want to get involved, but they can’t [set up] their own foundations … and I think if we all give a little bit of money to this collaborative, then it can allow this research to start and continue.”

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