See what we were up to in 2004! Only two years after Brian passed away, we were able to help dozens of kids with the love and support of Altoona.
We accomplished a LOT in 2004!
Through the efforts of our community, the Brian Morden Foundation was able to help dozens and dozens of child cancer patients throughout the country.
BMF Reaches Goal for Vaccine Study
The BMF pledged $50,000 in March 2004 to support a vaccine study proposed by Dr. James Geiger from the University of Michigan Medical Center. More than $10,000 was raised during the spring campaign. Combined with funds previously given to the BMF and a pledge of $25,000 from The Liddy Shriver Sarcoma initiative, we are thrilled to announce that we have met our pledge. Unfortunately, the pilot study has not opened up yet. The BMF is also looking at vaccines being developed at Duke University, the National Childhood Cancer Foundation/Children’s Oncology Group, The American Cancer Society, and the Sarcoma Foundation of America. We hope to continue making contact with other groups with the possibility of a consortium of childhood cancer foundations being formed. A combined effort among all childhood cancer groups could become a driving force that would expedite both the funding and pace of research.
Charity Ball Huge Success
The Lambda Sigma Honors Society at the University of Pittsburgh held their Charity Ball on February 7, 2004, to support the work of the Brian Morden Foundation. Brittany Ritchey, a friend of Brian’s during junior and senior high, was instrumental in persuading the society to support the BMF with their 2004 Charity Ball. Jessica Genetti, President of the society presided over the Charity Ball, which was delightful and very successful. A check for $3000 was presented to Fred and Dawn Morden who accepted on behalf of the Brian Morden Foundation. Many of Brian’s high school friends attended the ball, traveling from various colleges to support the cause. We were thrilled and grateful that so many remembered Brian and supported our work fighting back against childhood cancer.
Brian Baskets Continue to Cheer Patients at CHP
The Brian Morden Foundation continues to fill baskets to send to patients, families, and staff members who are on the Oncology unit at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh during a major holiday. While Brian spent a great deal of time during the last two years of his life at Children’s Hospital, fortunately, we never had to spend Christmas, New Year’s, or Thanksgiving there. However hard the staff members and others might try, spending a holiday in a hospital is no fun. The BMF hopes a little unexpected surprise on those special days might bring a smile to someone’s face. The first baskets were sent for Thanksgiving 2003. Subsequent baskets have been sent for Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and the Fourth of July. Treat bags were sent for Halloween this year and Thanksgiving baskets were filled with holiday cards, stamps, and other items to help families keep in touch. The baskets usually include books, toys, puzzles and games, phone cards, note cards and stamps, snacks, and more.
Handbell Ensemble Supports BMF
Last year (2003) the first big winter storm of the season (10”- 14” of snow in the Altoona area) forced the cancellation of the BMF fundraiser to hear the 6th Dimension handbell ensemble in Frederick. Kim Kiec, an old college friend and 6th Dimension member, was determined, however, to support the BMF. The group will donate part of the proceeds from this year’s December 4, 2004 concert to the BMF where BMF merchandise will also be sold.
AASD Continues Their Support
Irving Elementary donated proceeds from a faculty/student basketball game. Pleasant Valley staff donated proceeds from 2 “dress-down” days.
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month Observed
Each September, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is dedicated to recognizing patients, survivors, families, and caregivers, and to honoring the young people who have lost their lives to this disease. The BMF encouraged AASD staff and students to support this cause by purchasing and wearing a gold ribbon during the month. The AAHS student council and the Interact club raised more than $500 dollars. Other AASD schools participated in selling and wearing ribbons. A special day, September 30, 2004, was set aside by the school district to honor two students, Katie Mills, a 9th grader, and Erin Dodson, an AAHS 2004 alumni, who were courageously battling cancer. Unfortunately, Katie lost her battle on October 17, 2004. Other survivors of childhood cancer like Jonah Zolnak, as well as those who did not win the battle, including Brian, AAHS 2002 alumni who fought bravely but lost his life to Ewing’s sarcoma in February 2003, were remembered on this day. As more and more people become aware of the need for childhood cancer research we are on our way to fulfilling the promise we made to our son/brother Brian to help find a cure for this disease. Just as important, when we find a cure, no one else will have to suffer or die from this disease.
Iowa Orchestra Holds Concert to Benefit the BMF
The Dubuque Community String Orchestra & Friends (part of the Northeast Iowa School of Music) under the direction of Tracey Rush, held a sports-themed family Concert for a Cure on October 24, 2004 at 3:00 PM. Brian’s dad helped plan the event and conducted Brian’s Song (If the Hands of Time). Eric Fischer, an Ewing’s survivor was also in attendance to lend his support.
Second Annual BMF Scholarship Dinner
Every year, we host a Scholarship Awards Dinner to recognize cancer survivors, family members of cancer patients, and other young people who are going to college and award them with scholarships to help fund their education.
Meet Danica and Josh
Both Danica and Josh were awarded the 2004 Brian Morden Memorial Scholarship because they met the requirements set forth in the conditions of the scholarship. They exemplify those qualities that represent the best of Brian Morden: friendship, loyalty, courage, and love.
Danica is an amazing, corageous young woman. She has been on the Honor Roll all four years at Burrell High School, has held a job, worked with Students Helping Older People, and volunteers for Make-a-Wish. She has done all this while battling cancer! Danica met Brian at Children’s Hospital on 8 North where they were both receiving treatment for Ewing’s Sarcoma. Danica is one of the lucky ones – she’s a survivor, and she is making good use of her precious life. She would like to pursue a career in pulic relations, somehow working closely with the medical field. Danica would also like to continue being involved with Make-A-Wish and keep in contact with the many people she has talked to that have cancer. Danica will be attending Penn State – New Kensington in the fall.
Joshua Applas is a very bright and talented young man. He played percussion with the Altoona Area High School Band for 3 years and also played in the jazz ensemble, wind ensemble, percussion ensemble, orchestra, and pit orchestra. Brian was fortunate to know Josh and play in the musical groups with him while they were both attending RJHS and then again when Brian was a senior at AAHS and Josh was a sophomore. Josh is also a member of the National Honor Society, is active in his church, and holds a part-time job at Carmike Cinemas. During the summer of 2004 Josh will participate in The Sound of America Music Tour to Europe. He plans to attend Pittsubrgh University in the fall majoring in secondary education in math and English, while continuing to perform in a variety of ensembles. Josh would like to minor in music composition and percussion.