Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation
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of childhood brain tumors
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July 2014

PBTF awards college scholarships to brain tumor survivors

Jayme Skaggs is a 2014 Galaxy Scholarship recipient.


The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation has awarded $125,000 in college scholarships to 100 childhood brain tumor survivors.

The awards to current college students and recent high school graduates include one-, two- and four-year scholarships to technical schools, community colleges and universities.

This is the first year of the PBTF’s Galaxy Scholarship program, which is designed for graduating high school seniors. The program provides a one-time scholarship of $3,000 to students pursuing an associate’s degree in up to two years, or $6,000 to students pursuing an undergraduate degree in up to four years. The Galaxy awards are divided into payments of $1,500 per academic year.

Galaxy award recipients are required to give six to eight annual volunteer hours to the PBTF. Volunteer opportunities may include hosting a fundraising event, planning an education day or lending a hand in the national office.

2014 scholarship recipient Madalyn Gibson-Williams was thrilled to receive her award. “Thank you so much for choosing me as a recipient of your scholarship,” Madalyn said. “It will be a huge help in paying for my education. I am so appreciative. I look forward to volunteering for the foundation in the future.”

Along with the new Galaxy Scholarship, the PBTF also provides a one-year, $1,000 scholarship to brain tumor survivors already in college.

“The PBTF hopes to grow our scholarship programs so we can offer more scholarships in the future,” said Shelley Pressley, the PBTF’s family support manager.

Your donation can make a difference to young brain tumor survivors who want to attend college. Click here to give the gift of education.

PBTF scholarship applications, which are accepted between November and March, are reviewed by independent teams of volunteers. Reviewers include a professional educator, nurse and social worker.

For information about the 2015 scholarship program, email


My Fundraiser makes it easy to help our Stars

Gavin Lopez’s dad uses the PBTF’s online tools to raise funds for a cure.


From lemonade stands to bake sales and golf tournaments, community members are using a new, customizable fundraising tool to raise money for the PBTF.

My Fundraiser, which is built into our website, is a simple and convenient way for event organizers and individuals to reach out to friends and family to ask for support. Your personal fundraising page will accept credit card and Pay Pal gifts, and you’ll be able to enter cash and checks received as offline donations.

Tarsis Lopez, a professional DJ, started a fundraising page to help run a monthly DJ Tarsis' Alternative Classix event.

Lopez’s infant son, Gavin, was recently diagnosed with pilocytic astrocytoma. “As a result, I wanted to leverage my monthly retro alternative '80s and early '90s dance events at Chicago's Late Bar as an opportunity to raise funds for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation,” Lopez says.

The online tool is free and it’s easy to create and customize your own fundraising page. Visit to get started today!


Researcher works to save lives

Dr. Elias Sayour is on a mission to eliminate brain tumors in children.


Elias Sayour, MD, assistant professor of neurosurgery and pediatrics at the University of Florida, has one goal in mind: to eradicate brain tumors.

Sayour spends about 80 percent of his week as principal investigator of the RNA Engineering Laboratory, which is dedicated to developing vaccines against childhood brain tumors. The other 20 percent, he says, is spent in the hospital, caring for children with malignancies.

Sayour has witnessed stories of success and sorrow that push him to work harder. One that sticks with him is that of a 20-year-old brain tumor patient who wanted to live to see his daughter’s birth.

“That’s all he wanted, to see his unborn daughter,” Sayour says. “He didn’t make it.”

Why continue in the face of such setbacks? “It’s about the hope and the promise of tomorrow,” he says. “I have to believe there’s something better than what we’re doing.”

Sayour was among dozens of researchers from across North America who attended the PBTF’s inaugural “Translating Discoveries to Cure the Kids” meeting in May.

“Foundations like the PBTF are essential to our mission as physicians and scientists,” Sayour says. “Not only does the PBTF fund research that will make for a better tomorrow, but it also integrates the scientific community in a manner that propels collaborative efforts in our singular mission to eradicate brain cancers.”


Toddler’s health a family affair

Allie McClure doesn't let chemo slow her down.

Allie McClure, 2, took her first steps during chemotherapy treatment.

The toddler has battled three brain tumors and one tumor on her spine since she was 7 months old.

“She is such a strong little girl,” says her mom, Tabitha. “She doesn’t let chemotherapy slow her down.”

Despite frequent doctor’s visits, MRI sedations and treatment sessions, Tabitha says that Allie is happy. Her greatest concern on any given day is that her baby dolls are in order.

For the McClures, Allie’s health is a family affair. Her brother, Caden, 6, is happy to help his little sister.

“He is stepping up and being an awesome big brother,” Tabitha said. “He goes with Allie to chemotherapy and makes the other patients feel better.”