Brain tumor survivor Shaye Sauers inspired her father, Rick, and other parents to form the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children in 1980.
The Southeast Region of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation was established in August 2014 when the Atlanta-based Brain Tumor Foundation for Children united with the national PBTF to create a louder voice and greater impact for the children served by both organizations.
The rich history of the Southeast Region, however, remains deeply embedded in the story of the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children.
In 1980, Rick and Sheila Sauers’ 5-month-old daughter, Shaye, was diagnosed with a highly malignant brain tumor. Offered only a 2 percent chance of Shaye's long-term survival, the Sauers began a relentless campaign to seek knowledge and treatment to save their child. They found that very little information was available on brain tumors in children and that little research was being conducted. The overall message at that time was that most children died from this disease.
Together with several other parents, Rick and Sheila began a local parent support group where families could exchange coping skills, comfort and information. In 1983, Rick and several other parents established the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children as the country’s first nonprofit organization focused on pediatric brain tumor disease.
Over the years, in addition to raising funds for research, the BTFC became a direct patient and family services-oriented organization. And in 2000, the board of directors established the Butterfly Fund to provide emergency financial assistance for families at the time of a child’s treatment.
The name Butterfly Fund was born from the BTFC’s butterfly logo, which represented the significant change in the course of the child’s life and the metamorphosis experienced when a child is diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Rick provided 23 years of service as a dedicated president and later chairman of the board of the BTFC. Many other devoted parents of affected children and business professionals served in board positions over the organization’s 31 years of existence.
Today, the programs offered by BTFC continue as part of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation’s Southeast Region. The largest of these programs is the Butterfly Fund, which provides emergency financial assistance to hundreds of families throughout the United States.
The Southeast Region will forever be grateful to Rick Sauers and the many board members for their wisdom, guidance, hard work and perseverance in serving countless children and families affected by brain tumors.