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Every single person, regardless of age, background, race or gender, has been touched by cancer. It affects us all, whether it be a loved one, a friend, a colleague, or even a child. Cancer causes us pain and heartbreak. Cancer makes us confused and angry. Yet, it also unites us; it forces us to come together and create meaningful change. GammAcacia is proud to be a part of this mission for change, and we are hopeful that together we will make a difference.
The GammAcacia THON Organization was founded in 2007 when the sisters of Gamma Phi Beta and the brothers of Acacia joined forces to partake in Penn State’s fight against pediatric cancer. Our dedication and passion towards THON’s mission quickly molded us into one family, and we have been united in the pursuit of a cure ever since.
THON’s sole beneficiary is the Four Diamonds Foundation at Penn State Children’s Hospital. THON is a student run philanthropy committed to enhancing the lives of children and families impacted by childhood cancer. Our mission is to provide emotional and financial support, spread awareness, and ensure funding for critical research – all in pursuit of a cure. Since our organization was founded, GammAcacia has successfully contributed $1.9 million to The Four Diamonds Fund.
THON is family. We are lucky enough to be paired with four incredible Four Diamonds Families: The Jedediah Smith Family, The Jazmine Cope Family, The Bree Taylor Family, and the Paula Engel-Herbert Family.
Jed Smith was born on September 29, 1997. He always put others first and lived his life looking at the glass half full. He was a huge Penn State Football fan, and he adored his family. In May of 2002, when he was just four years old, Jed was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. After fighting long and hard for eight years, Jed passed away on January 3, 2010. We will never forget the lasting impact that Jed made on GammAcacia. He will always be a part of our family.
Jazmine Cope was born on August 10, 1996. She loved to play volleyball and listen to Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. Jazmine was active in her middle school’s mini-THON efforts; her school continues to be the top money-raising middle school in the state! She was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Myelofibrosis in February of 2010. She lost her hard-fought battle on November 26, 2010, just nine months after being diagnosed. Her bravery and kind spirit continue to inspire us all, and she will forever live on in our hearts.
Bree Taylor, just celebrated her 24th birthday in August! Bree is from York, Pennsylvania. She recently graduated from West Chester University with a degree in Public Health and is a big basketball and soccer fan. Bree has conquered cancer twice now! Bree is one of the strongest and most fearless people that we know, and we are so proud to have her in our family.
Last, but certainly not least, we have Paula Engel-Herbert. Paula was born on November 15, 2010. She was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis in 2012, when she was only two years old. She underwent treatment and was deemed cancer free in the summer of 2014. Unfortunately, Paula relapsed in June 2015. As of today, she is two years off of treatment and shows no evidence of disease! Paula is the most courageous little girl that we know. Her and her big sister Emma, GammAcacia’s biggest fan, are silly, energetic, and absolutely hilarious. We love watching Paula and Emma grow up and are beyond lucky to call them family.
As an organization, we are so grateful to each and every one of our THON children and their families. They continue to teach and inspire us every single day. We THON for them. We THON so that no more parents have to be told that their children have cancer. We THON for a cure. We hope that you will join us in our THON 2019 journey, and we look forward to the future when pediatric cancer is a distant memory.
Growing up is a beautiful thing. Let’s fight for it.