Five years ago, I was diagnosed with a rare adrenal cancer that has a bad prognosis and few research dollars. Determined to raise funds for a cure, my 14-year-old niece Ashley, a gifted dancer, planned an event entitled “Dance 4 a Cause.” Now in its fourth year, her production has become a popular annual event.
Ashley secured a stage in our hometown of Yorktown, NY, and assembled the entire production, choreographing dances and training performers ages 7 through 17 — many of whom were new to dance. Her first show had a cast of 43. In 2012, 128 children joined the production. Ashley devotes at least eight hours each weekend for four months to develop these shows.
All the proceeds of the show go to the adrenal cancer research of Gary Hammer, MD, PhD, director of the Endocrine Oncology Program at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Speaking at “Dance 4 a Cause,” Dr. Hammer told us that Ashley had “opened the door” and influenced others to support overlooked diseases.
Now 19, Ashley has brought an entire community together and raised more than $70,000 to help find a cure. My wonderful care at Mass General, along with the research at University of Michigan and the work of my loving niece, has kept me alive for five years and given me hope.
– Wendy Holman