Eli Seth Matthews Foundation continues quest to see a cure for childhood leukemia
● By Steven Hoffman
Eli Seth Matthews inspired many people in the community with the way that he lived his life with joy and bravery. That's why, more than four years after he passed away at the age of 10 following a lengthy and courageous battle against childhood leukemia, the community continues to rally to support the cause that he believed in.
“Eli is still touching hearts from heaven,” said his father, Paul, on Aug. 17, the day that Oxford Mayor Geoff Henry issued a formal proclamation that Oxford would be commemorating Childhood Cancer Awareness Month during September.
Cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death in children, and each year in the U.S. there will be 15,780 children under the age of 19 who will be diagnosed with some form of cancer. Approximately 1 in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer before their 20th birthday. Globally, there are more than 250,000 children diagnosed with cancer each year, and every three minutes, somewhere in the world, a child is diagnosed with cancer.
Matthews, a resident of Oxford, established a foundation in his son's name with a goal of raising money to help support research to end childhood leukemia. During Eli's short, but remarkable life, he raised over $7,000 to support the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, and the bELIeve Team of friends and family members raised another $30,000 through fundraising efforts for the American Cancer Society during Eli's lifetime.
Matthews said that the foundation recently donated an additional $30,000 for research being done by Dr. Todd Druley, M.D., Ph.D. of Washington University School of Medicine, a St. Louis, Missouri hospital and lab where advanced research to find a cure for childhood cancer is taking place. Matthews’ hope is that, one day soon, mothers and fathers will never have to tell a child that he or she has cancer again.
In total, approximately $120,000 has been raised locally to support the fight against childhood cancer.
According to Matthews, Dr. Druley and his team have used the latest in DNA sequencing and computer analysis to demonstrate that infants who get leukemia are born with damaging genetic changes in genes known to cause leukemia. These results are expected to stimulate additional research, provide improved prenatal diagnostics, and identify new genetic targets for treatment.
“The Eli Seth Matthews Leukemia Foundation is supporting the research on leukemia genetics being done by Dr. Todd Druley, and we all recognize that there is much more work to be done,” said Matthews.
At the local level, Mathews, his son, Austin, and a determined army of other family and friends organize 20 or more events each year to raise money to support the foundation's efforts.
While proclaiming September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in Oxford, Henry encouraged all residents of Oxford to continue to recognize and support the Eli Seth Matthews Leukemia Foundation in this fight against childhood cancer.
The community has been tremendously supportive of the foundation's efforts, Matthews said, with individuals and businesses throughout the area helping out with a wide variety of fundraisers. Staff and students in the Oxford Area School District have also organized many events.
In advance of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, volunteers will be decorating streetlights in Oxford with gold ribbons and bows. Matthews also encouraged people to wear a gold ribbon, a symbol of hope and support for those children and their families living with cancer, throughout the month.
Also, during the month of September, Landhope Farms will be contributing $1 for every 12-inch hoagie that is sold to the Eli Seth Matthews Leukemia Foundation. Blitz Automotive will be donating a portion of every invoice to the foundation as well.
On Sept. 5, the fifth annual Cruise for the Cure Car & Motorcycle Show will take place at Oxford Auto & Tire, 124 Barnsley Road in Oxford. Cars, trucks, and bikes are welcome at the event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. More information is available at www.braveeli.com.
With the continued support of the Oxford community, Matthews said the Eli Seth Matthews Foundation can play a part in helping medical professionals like Dr. Druley achieve a breakthrough that will increase survival rates and save more lives.
Matthews vowed to to continue to raise money to help in the effort to find a cure because that's what Eli would want—and because that's the way that Eli's wish for a cure will come true.
Help the Eli Seth Matthews Foundation
Funding for children’s cancer research is always limited, so the contributions that are made in Eli’s memory make a difference. If you wish to donate to the Eli Seth Matthews Foundation, the address is P.O. BOX 33 Oxford, PA 19363. If you wish to come up with your own fundraising idea to help fight childhood cancer in Eli’s memory please e-mail Paul Matthews at BraveEli@zoominternet.net. The Eli Seth Matthews Leukemia Foundation, Inc is a 501 ( C ) ( 3 ) Foundation per the Internal Revenue Service.