Monmouth students joined efforts to fundraise for pediatric brain cancer research across the tri-state area in collaboration with the Kortney Rose Foundation (KRF) on Saturday, Feb. 24 and Sunday, Feb. 25.
Over the weekend, volunteers partnered with 16 different Turning Point restaurants, including one in Pier Village. The volunteers would raise awareness for the need of funding for pediatric brain tumor/ central nervous system research while offering customers the opportunity to support the cause through donations from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm.
This weekend the volunteers successfully raised $74,000, compared to $57,300 last year. The fundraiser is an annual event that has been happening since 2010 and has raised about $325,000 over the years to support research through the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) due to efforts by the KRF.
The KRF is a non-profit organization that was founded by Kristen Gillette, a former secretary of the University’s political science and sociology department from 2010-2017 and former assistant to the editor of Monmouth’s magazine. Gillette’s daughter, Kortney, was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, brainstem glioma, in 2005 and had been treated at CHOP herself during her battle with the disease.
The KRF was founded in 2006 after Kortney had passed. It was at this time that Gillette temporarily left Monmouth University, later to return to fill a secretarial position until she left to run the foundation full time in spring of 2017. The organization now has raised nearly $2 million for research on pediatric brain and central nervous system tumors with the intention of discovering better treatments and potential cures.
Gillette said, “the vision of the KRF is to create a world where brain tumors are curable. My personal mission is to raise significant research funding to accelerate treatments and cures.”
According to CHOP, central nervous system tumors (tumors of the brain and spine) are the most common solid tumor in children. There are approximately 4,500 new brain tumors each year, and they are the most common of cancer deaths.
“The Turning Point fundraiser is so much fun because we get to go out and interact with people, spread awareness on pediatric brain tumors, and collect donations to fund research in order to find a cure.” said volunteer and junior education student, Bryanna Roos. “Too many children and families are affected by this disease so I’m really glad I’m able to help make a change.”
Roos teamed with Kathryn Ziegler, another University student, at a Turning Point in Marlton over the weekend in support of the KRF.
Ziegler, a junior business student, said, “I’m so happy to have the opportunity to volunteer this weekend. The KRF funds research for such an important cause and I’m so glad I can help out.”
Support for this cause is shared across the Monmouth community, especially in faculty who have known Gillette for the years that she has worked at the University.
Johanna Foster, Ph.D., Director of the Sociology Department and an assistant professor of sociology, said she had developed a strong friendship and positive work relationship with Gillette while she worked in the department, and the friendship has continued post-Gillette’s departure.
“When we first met I was just amazed by her ability to withstand such a tremendous loss and be able to transform that loss into such a wonderful gift for so many families and children. She is really a hero to all of us in the department of political science and sociology,” said Foster.
Foster said that Gillette’s time at Monmouth educated many of the members of the department of the need for research of pediatric brain tumor research. She was also very supportive of many of the work study students, who in turn have volunteered in local schools, runs, and other fundraising events that Gillette has put together.
Amongst the inspired faculty is Associate Dean in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nancy Mezey, Ph.D., who is also the associate professor of sociology.
“Supporting the Kortney Rose Foundation is worth my time because childhood brain tumors are such a huge and important issue and so few people know about the devastating consequences of this disease. I want to help the Foundation raise awareness and fund research to end childhood brain tumors,” said Mezey.
The Kortney Rose Foundation is currently seeking students to fill social media and various related internship roles for the organization. If interested, contact Kristen Gillette via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
PHOTO COURTESY of Bryanna Roos