University of Louisville Magazine

WINTER-SPRING 2018

The University of Louisville Alumni Magazine: for alumni, faculty, staff, students and anyone that is a UofL Cardinal fan.

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61 WINTER/SPRING 2018 P atrick McSweeney, a freshman engineer- ing student, wanted to be a part of Uof L's raiseRed 18-hour dance marathon so badly, he delayed his next cancer treatment in Philadelphia by a week so he could be there when it kicked off. Raising money for pediatric cancer and blood disorders at Uof L means that much to him because he learned in January that his own cancer relapsed for the sixth time. McSweeney, who is 18 now, was diag- nosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, when he was 5 years old. He's under- gone scores of treatments in his lifelong battle, including chemotherapy, a bone mar- row transplant and most recently T-cell treatments. "I want to turn this negative situation of relapsing into a positive," he said. "I want to help others, so that no one else experiences what I've been through, no one has to relapse six times. One time is enough. They can be cancer free after one time." He relayed his story in a video he made recently for social media, asking friends, family and fellow students to share it widely and give to raiseRED. His goal was to raise $5,000. He shattered that goal, raising $29,000 by the end of the dance marathon. Kristin Johnson, raiseRED operations director and an engineering student, said McSweeney's story underscores the impor- tance of raiseRED. "To know that a group of college kids can make this big of a difference in Patrick's life, and others' lives, makes me feel like I have a purpose and that I can make a difference," she said. In the last five years, raiseRED has become Uof L's largest student-run philan- thropy, bringing in more than $1.6 million. This year's event raised a record $601,381 — surpassing the original goal by more than $50,000. Kosair Charities and Papa John's each contributed $70,000 to the cause. JUST DANCE Annual dance marathon raises record amount for cancer research The impact of raiseRED Ashok Raj, Uof L's interim chief, division of pediatric hematology and oncology, said the money funds research and direct patient care. Cancer, brain tumors in particular, remains the leading cause of death from disease among children. The rates of pediat- ric brain tumors are higher in Kentucky, he said, and as much as 42 percent higher in the Appalachian region of the state. "The need for our work is even more pro- nounced locally," he said. Maria Beck, whose 18-year-old daughter, Anna-Maria Beck, has been a patient since she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at seven years old, is quick to explain that, for her family, the best benefit of rais- eRED has been participating. Anna-Maria has made countless friends, gained leader- ship skills and even come to re-frame how she thinks about her disease. "Meeting the patients and hearing their stories is such an incredibly special part of the event," Maria Beck said. "The Uof L students are so sweet and solicitous. They make such a big deal over the kids, who get on stage to tell their stories. It's a powerful thing. My favorite part about it is the way it makes the patients feel. Cancer can isolate you. Being connected with peers is really important." This year, the raiseRED executive board developed a new program, called Patient Pals, where they pair Uof L students with patients to be whatever kind of extra support that patient needs, whether it's encouraging let- ters or get-togethers. Will Lampe, raiseRED programming director and a junior marketing major, was paired with Kaleb, an eighth grade patient. The two connected over Star Wars and have become fast friends. "raiseRED has made me grow more as a person," he said. "It's made me realize what kind of person I want to be." Scenes from the 2018 raiseRed dance marathon.

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