It all started WITH Grace. Spirited and kind, she's always looking to help others and is devoted to finding the light even in the darkest of times.
Everyone who knows Grace would tell you that she has always been special. A kind heart and infectious smile allow Grace to lighten the mood wherever she goes. At an early age she decided that at her birthday parties there wouldn't be gifts but instead charity donations to pediatric cancer. No one ever thought she would one day be in the fight herself.
At nine years old, Grace was diagnosed with Germinoma, a germ-cell brain tumor. It took several weeks of tests, scans, and appointments with surgeons and specialists before the diagnosis and plan for treatment were set. Through all of it, Grace never forgot to smile and lighten the mood for the other patients she met along the way.
In May of 2018, Grace traded her softball glove and gymnastics leotard for chemotherapy and proton radiation. Throughout the rest of the year, Grace stayed positive and strong, making the rounds in the hospital, cheering up other patients and always having a smile for the many caring medical professionals who treated her. Grace will tell you that maybe it wasn't the most fun thing to do, but she wouldn't trade the people she's met and the friends she's made for anything. As the true warrior she is, Grace has channeled her energy into helping several charities with fundraising, awareness campaigns, and visits to the Valerie Fund and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey where she was treated. Even though at only 10 years old Grace has spent more time in hospitals than many people will spend in their lifetime, she always remembers to find her smile when she goes there, and all the people who have met her there would tell you she always brightens their day.
While Grace will spend the rest of her life being monitored for recurrence of cancer, she currently shows no evidence of disease and is enjoying getting back to her sports and thinking of new ways to help other kids like her who are facing their own cancer journey.
Grace does not like being the center of attention, she prefers to be a "normal" kid. However, when it comes to helping others and especially helping to fight pediatric brain cancer, she is all in to speak and bring awareness to this cause. Grace has represented the cause at the local, state, and national level. She will do whatever she can to help people understand that this disease is not easy and kids like her are in the fight and need help. Grace is passionate about being the voice for kids with cancer and wants to help find a cure.
STATE OF THE UNION
February 5, 2019. Grace was a guest at the State of the Union to represent Pediatric Cancer. That night, a $500 million increase was pledged to pediatric cancer research funding over the next 10 years. This initiated the Childhood Cancer Data Initiative (CCDI) with the National Cancer Institute. CCDI. This initiative "focuses on the critical need to collect, analyze, and share data to address the burden of cancer in children and young adults. The initiative supports maximizing the use and benefit of data from childhood and AYA research for patients and survivors and aims to make it easier for researchers to learn from each of the approximately 16,000 children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer in the United States each year." (Cancer.gov)
CHILDHOOD CANCER CAUCUS
September 20, 2019, Grace was asked by Representative McCaul to speak as the pediatric cancer advocate at The Childhood Cancer Caucus. This annual bipartisan summit is a forum for Members of Congress to work together to address this critical issue. This event raises awareness; advocates in support of measures to prevent the pain, suffering, and long-term effects of childhood cancer; and works toward the goal of eliminating cancer as a threat to all children.
Grace has been able to advocate for attention for pediatric cancer funding. She's spoken to key lawmakers not only in her home state of New Jersey but repeatedly on a national level and has represented the cause at the White House and on Capital Hill.
RUTGERS CANCER INSTITUTE OF NEW JERSEY
April 23, 2019. Grace spoke alongside Governor Murphy and other key New Jersey law makers and leaders when Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey was recognized as a National Cancer Institute designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, 1 of 50 in the United States. Grace was treated at this facility with proton radiation.
April–May 2019. Grace's House was the special project of Grace's PopPop, Dan Reichard. Grace received chemotherapy treatment at The Valerie Fund Center at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. Following an extraordinary fundraising effort at a Walk/5K Run, Dan was interested in collaborating further with the organization that took such good care of his granddaughter. Dan and his wife, Elizabeth, partnered with Thomas and George Allen and acquired an historic house in Plainfield, New Jersey, in December 2017 with the sole goal of fixing it up to benefit the organization and raise awareness for pediatric cancer. The designer show house, dubbed Grace's House, was an opportunity to feature local designers' expertise as well as an interesting way for the public to support The Valerie Fund's mission: building a Brighter Future for The Valerie Fund Kids.
BOOKS THAT HEAL
Grace had the wonderful opportunity to write and publish her own story, Amazing Grace: Adventures of the Marvelous G!, through Books That Heal. Books That Heal helps children battling chronic illnesses to write and illustrate their own books. Grace was able to tell her story, and proceeds from the book are donated to organizations that help kids fight pediatric cancer.
TAKE THE INITIATIVE.
MAKE AN IMPACT.
Throughout treatment and beyond, Grace continued her selfless focus on others. She also inspired a movement. Several friends and family members rallied to support the pediatric cancer cause that now touched their lives. They created shirts and sold them, they gathered school supplies and gifts for some of the less fortunate that Grace was being treated with, and raised over $30,000 in six weeks, all for this cause. Grace’s grandfather rallied a design team and countless donations to create Grace’s House, a show house that raised almost $300,000 for the cause and inspired an extended community to help the fight pediatric cancer warriors face. Following that, Grace held a dance-a-thon and rallied to raise another $30,000 for the facility where she was treated and began advocacy and outreach for other organizations to fund research for pediatric cancer. Grace was a Gold Ribbon Hero for American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) and was selected to be a guest at the 2019 State of the Union. She was honored to be able to represent pediatric cancer on a national and international scale as President Trump pledged $500 Million for much needed pediatric cancer research. Grace is determined to continue to help others who are fighting pediatric cancer and to give back to those that supported her during her fight.