Pediatric cancer research will get a boost, thanks to a gift to the University of Florida College of Medicine from a band with local roots.
The Lyrics for Life Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by the platinum-selling band Sister Hazel, and Stop Children’s Cancer Inc. presented a $100,000 check to Paul Castillo, M.D., an assistant professor in the division of pediatric hematology and oncology at the UF College of Medicine. The gift was awarded earlier this month at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.
“This support is extremely important in getting closer to a cure for pediatric cancer,” Castillo said. “Thank you to those who play a critical role in our mission.”
Since 2019, the Lyrics for Life Foundation has donated a total of $400,000 to the Lyrics for Life/Stop Children’s Cancer Jeffrey A. Block research award. This grant supports Castillo’s development of personalized, targeted immunotherapy for T cell lymphoma and leukemia.
“Everyone has had cancer touch their lives in some way,” said David R. Nelson, M.D., senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health. “We are committed to pediatric cancer research.”
When Sister Hazel lead singer Ken Block was 16 years old, his brother Jeffrey was diagnosed with T cell lymphoma. Jeffrey died after struggling with cancer for four years. At that moment, Block knew he wanted to build a platform to create awareness and support for cancer research.
“Childhood cancer is overwhelming,” Block said. “I remember coming down the elevator the day my brother died. From that day forward, I wanted to make a difference.”
The Lyrics for Life Foundation is committed to supporting the research award over the next several years, says Christy Gibbons, executive director at Stop Children’s Cancer Inc.
“It is an immense privilege to collaborate with the organizations performing invaluable work in our community, such as Stop Children’s Cancer and Lyrics for Life,” said Colleen Koch, M.D., M.S., M.B.A., the dean of the UF College of Medicine. “We are incredibly grateful for their critical support of cancer research. Every dollar counts and goes directly toward the fight against cancer.”