Hike 4 Pennies: Uniting the Childhood Cancer Community

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Ginny McLean, Communications and Outreach Director for Swifty Foundation joins us to discuss the Hike 4 Pennies program with hiker Erick Montgomery who has taken on the challenge of the Pacific Crest Trail, from Tijuana, Mexico to the Canadian border to raise funds for urgently needed pediatric brain cancer research. The program joins social media with the real-time hiking experience in the wild, every step of the trail accounted for with 4 pennies.

The four pennies concept is well-known to most in the childhood cancer community, with its reference to the 4% of our national budget for cancer research that is directly purposed for pediatric cancer research annually. Coincidentally, as Brain Tumor Awareness Month approaches, we are reminded that brain cancer is the leading cause of death in children with cancer, and DIPG, the undisputed juggernaut of pediatric brain cancer, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, is responsible for the majority of brain tumor deaths annually in the United States.

Swifty Foundation, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, Dragonmaster Foundation, and the Kortney Rose Foundation are teaming up to raise funds with 4 pennies for the Project Open DIPG, a ground-breaking collaborative project for research in pediatric neuro-oncology, and partnership between PNOC (Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium) and CBTTC(Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium) research groups. There has been no progress in standard treatment or prognosis for the terminal disease in over 50 years.

Project Open DIPG embodies a “team science” strategy – pairing CBTTC’s approach to tissue sample collection, genomic sequencing and data analysis on the CAVATICA platform with PNOC’s clinical trial efforts.
By sharing data openly, Project Open DIPG will help the research community more quickly identify and develop personalized treatment strategies for DIPG and other types of pediatric brain tumors.

Swifty Foundation’s mission is simple, as it’s founder, Michael Gustafson stated before succumbing to medullablastoma, a deadly pediatric brain cancer: to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer research so that, “No other child will have to go through what I did.”

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