The Michael Hoefflin Foundation for children’s cancer is a public nonprofit 501(c)(3) foundation that provides financial and emotional support to children and their families in the Santa Clarita and surrounding valleys. The organization strives to educate the public and provide grant funding for innovative research to accelerate progress in the fight against pediatric cancer.
Michael Andrew Hoefflin was born January 10, 1986, and as he grew, his good health and athletic ability was matched with energy and enthusiasm. But at the end of his kindergarten school year, Michael had flu-like symptoms that didn’t improve with various treatments by his pediatrician. After a few weeks of illness, the occurrence of double vision prompted a brain scan.
On July 13, 1992 at the age of 6, Michael was admitted to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles where he was diagnosed with a brain tumor — PNET/medulloblastoma — an aggressive form of brain cancer.
Following brain surgery to remove the large tumor pressing against his brain stem, Michael received weeks of rehabilitation therapy to recover from the impact of surgery. He needed physical therapy to regain his strength, his ability to walk, speak clearly, and perform the most basic activities in order to care for himself again.
Michael received both radiation and chemotherapy treatments during the subsequent months, but to everyone’s great disappointment, doctors found that a small amount of the cancer had survived the early treatments and had spread into his spine. Children’s brain cancer has a propensity for recurring; however, a relapse this early into a child’s treatment was unusual, signaling the threat of a very resistant form of cancer.
Michael’s recovery from mega-therapy and a bone marrow transplant was slow and difficult, but he was fortunate to have 17 months of remission following that procedure. During that period, Michael enjoyed his second grade year in elementary school and resumed some favorite activities, however, a routine screening in May of 1994 showed his cancer had returned and was actively growing again. The doctors were very clear: each recurrence poses a much more difficult battle than the last.
Michael immediately began treatments with the most promising chemotherapy drugs, but unfortunately, the brain cancer cells that had survived were the strongest and most resistant to medical technology known at that time. During that period of treatments, the cancer had advanced significantly with diffuse disease forming dozens of tumors throughout his brain and spine. But you wouldn’t guess that by seeing him. Michael insisted upon being active, and had a persistent smile on his face. Amazingly, despite his declining condition and very young age, Michael continued to maintain his positive attitude. He wanted to help others in need, and was a grand spokesman for the many other children suffering with cancer. He had a strong spirit, refusing to dwell upon his situation; he cared more about how others were doing.
Inspired by his amazing example, Michael’s family and friends in 1994 reached out beyond the fight for just Michael’s recovery and included the tens of thousands of other afflicted children. With the commitment to being a positive force in the advancement of effective treatments, compassionate support to afflicted children and their families, and discovery of cures for childhood cancers, the Michael Hoefflin Foundation was formed in late September of 1995.
Michael’s loss on May 15, 1996 brought immense sadness, and reaffirmed the critical need to eliminate cancer as a threat to our children. Michael is dearly missed and continues to be our inspiration.
Evening Under the Stars Gala Benefits Kids with Cancer
For almost a quarter of a century the Michael Hoefflin Foundation has hosted a local fundraiser bringing hundreds of residents together for food, entertainment, and a common goal—to fight childhood cancers.
The 24th Annual Michael Hoefflin Foundation Evening Under the Stars gala dinner and charity auction will be held on Saturday, September 16. The event will be held at Mann Biomedical Park beginning at 6 p.m. Attendees will enjoy a dinner catered by Salt Creek Grill, live music, and the opportunity to bid on hundreds of unique auction items.
Although the Michael Hoefflin Foundation focuses on fundraising efforts throughout the year, Evening Under the Stars is critical in raising funds to help drive the foundation’s mission to provide support to children and their families facing the emotional and financial difficulties of pediatric cancer.
“We are grateful for the support of our community, whether at our 5K earlier in the year or the amazing efforts by people such as Roy Wiegand, who recently ran in honor of one of our recently lost angels,” said Gillian Stone, MHF’s executive director. “This is our chance to give the community that we so appreciate a beautiful, memorable and hopefully inspiring evening, and let people know about why we need the support we do,” she said.
Honorary chairs are Jon and Mardilan Giorgio of Gothic Landscape, and this year’s entertainment is the third appearance by the Kelly Rae Band, a high-energy country band that has been delivering crowd-pleasing performances around the world for more than two decades. The band is comprised of seasoned musicians who have performed with such names as Tanya Tucker, Rascal Flatts, Bobby Bare and Trick Pony.
To find out more about the event, visit www.mhf.org for ticket information and to discover what the Michael Hoefflin Foundation is doing in the community.