January 16, 2013

Parents Honor Son, Raise Funds To Fight Pediatric Cancer

Ross and Mindy Deutsch know firsthand the heartbreak of losing a child. Their 7-year-old son Rory lost his battle with a brain tumor in 1998 and the couple honor his memory through the Rory David Deutsch Foundation, whose mission is to eradicate pediatric brain tumors.

Pediatric cancer is the No. 1 killer among children, aside from accident and trauma, Ross Deutsch says. “It’s incumbent upon us and foundations like us to raise money.” Unfortunately,  there have been no research breakthroughs in the type of pediatric brain stem tumor that Rory was diagnosed with.

The nonprofit Rory David Deutsch Foundation relies on the holiday season for donations as well as fundraisers held every two years. “We want to tap into resources that are out there to spread the word … and reach people who might not know us,” Deutsch says.

Finding a cure for pediatric brain tumors Is “a marathon, not a sprint,” says Ross Deutsch of the Rory David Deutsch Foundation.

The Highland Park, Ill.-based foundation does not have corporate sponsorship, and fundraisers are run by family and friends. The foundation has no salaried employees, and it wants to reach out to as many businesses as possible. “We have local vendors, retail stores that have been unbelievable supporters over the years,” according to Deutsch.

Finding a cure for pediatric brain tumors Is “a marathon, not a sprint,” Deutsch says. “There are  signs and hopes and optimism. Unfortunately, if a child is diagnosed with the type of brain tumor that Rory was diagnosed with in 1998, the result would be the same. It’s a very sobering fact.”

The foundation has raised between $7 million and $8 million dollars for pediatric cancer research since its inception in 1998, Deutsch says. The foundation’s most recent fundraiser, held Oct. 28, grossed $210,000.00.

Rory attended Indian Trail School in Highland Park. The school will host a “Ragnar for Rory” fundraising event in which students will participate in a weeklong distance running program in May during physical education classes. Also, six of Indian Trail’s teachers will take part in a relay race from Madison, Wis., to Chicago on June 8 and June 9.

The school wants to raise $10,000 for the foundation through donations toward the May and June activities. Donations can be made through the school or online by clicking here.

A big part of the foundation is to honor Rory’s memory. “We are celebrating Rory’s life,” his father says. “We are trying to honor Rory every day” whether its with events or the foundation’s website. The effort by the foundation’s volunteers “is such a tribute to Rory and those who continue to be involved, he says.

Ross teamed with sports talk fixture Mike North on the radio. Ross was invited to be on the Mike North show on Fox Sports Radio. Ross’s segment was Sunday nights on WIND 560 and he discussed the  progress of the foundation, sports and other topics.

The foundation also wants to raise public awareness through research that it’s funding at the Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University in North Carolina. There are endowed research programs at both facilities. “Rory’s name will forever live on through these research programs,” Deutsch says.

Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski is very supportive of the pediatric cancer foundation and a  “dear friend” of the Deutsch family. Deutsch met Krzyzewski at a basketball camp in Las Vegas in 1997, and the coach later contacted Deutsch after Rory’s diagnosis.

“Coach K” and his wife wanted to do something for the foundation and brain tumor research following Rory’s death. They planned a 2002 fundraiser in Chicago at which Krzyzewski gave an inspiring speech. He compared the characteristics of a winning team and the fight to end pediatric brain cancer, Deutsch says.

At every Duke game, Deutsch says, Krzyzewski wears a pin given to him by Deutsch. The pin, also worn by the Deutsches, is engraved with a picture of Rory with a baseball cap bearing his name and the words of the foundation: “Rory Foundation For Brighter Tomorrows.”

“We’ve been very fortunate through our events,” Deutsch says. “We continue to have such tremendous support. There continues to be people who attend our events who may not have known Rory but because of the foundation they now know of him.”


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