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Non Profit of the Week – The Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children’s Cancer

| SC Living | March 1, 2018

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.

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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.

One of the Hoefflin Foundation’s biggest fundraisers is the Evening Under the Stars Gala in the fall. For almost a quarter of a century the organization has hosted the local fundraiser that brings hundreds of residents together for food, entertainment, and a common goal – to fight childhood cancers. Guests always enjoy a catered dinner, live music, and the opportunity to bid on hundreds of unique auction items.

“We are grateful for the support of our community,” 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.

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.

Walk for Kids to Benefit Hoefflin Foundation

The 2018 Walk for Kids with Cancer, held at College of the Canyons Cougar Stadium, is sponsored by Boston Scientific and Scorpion Internet Marketing. It is a celebration of the lives of children and their families who have been affected by children’s cancer. Individuals will participate in a 5K walk, or un-timed fun run to raise funds to support the Foundation. All ages and abilities are welcome.

Beginning with registration at 8 a.m., the program starts officially at 9 a.m. on Sat., March 17, and participants will be awarded for “Top Individual Fundraiser” and “Top Team Fundraiser.” Those who bring in $100 or more receive a Michael Hoefflin Foundation T-shirt created for the 2018 Walk.

The event will be held at College of the Canyons Cougar Stadium, located at 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road in Valencia.

When you register in advance, you receive a complimentary MHF reuseable grocery bag. Donations are welcome and sponsorships are available.

For more information, contact Norma Binder at 661-250-4100 or visit the non-profit’s website, MHF.org.

Meet Danny

Danny is Michael Hoefflin Foundation’s 2018 Walk Ambassador. You can meet him at the 8th Annual MHF Walk for Kids with Cancer.

Danny was first diagnosed with Leukemia (AML) when he was just 2 years old. Thankfully, he has been cancer free for 7 years and is a very active 9-year-old. His favorite food is carne Asada and he won’t pass up the opportunity for a certain French fries.

Danny was born with Down Syndrome and even after facing cancer at such a young age, he doesn’t let any of it change his attitude! If you participate in this year’s walk you can spend the morning with Danny and the rest of the brave MHF boys and girls who have faced, or are still in the battle, with cancer.

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