The OFS Foundation
Why It Matters
One in 285 children will be diagnosed with cancer before 20 (Cancer Society, 2014). One in eight will not survive childhood.
According to Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER), a program of the National Cancer Institute, in figures compiled by the CureSearch foundation, the incidence of cancer in people aged 0-19 increased 34% in the USA between 1975 and 2010, from 12.9 per 100,000 people to 17.3 per 100,000 people. The incidence rate was projected to rise to 21.1 per 100,000 by 2014 – a further 22%.
Only 10% of the National Cancer Institute research budget is allocated to the causes of pediatric cancer. This may reflect the official view as expressed by the National Cancer Institute in 2013 that “the causes of most childhood cancers are unknown, and for the most part these diseases cannot be prevented.”
The primary private and public sector research focus is on finding cures, not causes. Yet current chemotherapy and radiation treatments mean that survival comes often at a tragic cost: “The overall 5 year survival rate for childhood cancer is close to 80%. Two-thirds face at least one chronic health condition. One quarter face a late-effect from treatment classified as severe or life-threatening, including heart damage, second cancers, lung damage, infertility, cognitive impairment, growth deficits, hearing loss. It is increasingly apparent that childhood cancer is for life.” (American Childhood Cancer Organisation)
The World Health Organisation describes carcinogenesis as occuring in three main stages: “Initiation of the cancer occurs when an environmental agent such as a chemical, an infection or radiation successfully damages DNA and this damage fails to be repaired. During the next stage or promotion stage, further genetic damage occurs in the form of mutation until there is loss of regulatory processes and the cancer moves into the progression phase with tumor growth and metastases.”
The only way to be free of childhood cancer is to learn what those environmental agencies are.
What We Do
The Oliver Forever Strong Foundation promotes the need to identify the causes of pediatric cancer and raises funds towards this research, principally via soccer-related events and activities on a rolling, per project basis in the United States and Latin America.
Our first project is the provision of ultra-durable soccer balls to underprivileged communities. Corporate, sports and entertainment sponsors are being approached and wide media coverage is anticipated, so that the distribution of the balls will raise awareness of the need to intensify scientific research into the causes of pediatric cancer, and thereby to focus on prevention.
Currently, according to the National Cancer Institute and others, known and suspected causes of the main cancers in children: leukemia, brain tumors and lymphoma; include ionizing radiation; herbicides; pesticides; asbestos; chemicals, specifically including benzene; solvents and paints; electric and magnetic fields; and exposure to infections.
Donors’ funds are donated via a non-profit organization, the Key Biscayne Community Foundation, whose mission is to enable, facilitate and empower its constituents to make a positive difference in the local, greater and global community through programs, grant making, fiscal scholarships and community leadership.
Oliver’s sudden death on June 18, 2015, just 36 hours after he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), moves us to share his passions and example with wider communities. We wish his life to bring hope, light and tangible happiness to disadvantaged youths who share his love of soccer but lack the necessary equipment and resources. And we wish to intensify the search for the environmental causes behind the rising tide of pediatric cancer.
Donations go towards raising public awareness of the need for research into the causes of pediatric cancer, and research of the causes in order to prevent the occurrence of the disease.
As part of our campaign to raise public awareness among families, the media and governments, we will be delivering sponsored ultra-durable, hand-stitched soccer balls to disadvantaged communities in Florida and Colombia. The balls will be ceremonially handed over by high-profile national soccer champions (goalkeepers) to attract media coverage of our mission.
The soccer balls by Senda are Fair Trade Certified. The manufacturers meet social, economic and environmental criteria, the workers’ health and safety is safeguarded, there is no child labor, all workers in the supply chain receive at least the national minimal wage, and manufacturers receive additional money for community and economic development.
Meanwhile, we are developing two key, long-term research projects.
The first is an epidemiological database of pediatric patients, launched on TheReasonsWhy.Us
This database, the National Registry of Pediatric Cancer Families, fills a critical scientific gap. Simply put, a key reason research has yet to uncover specific exposures causing childhood cancer is the lack of available data about environmental factors shared by children who experience the disease.
Through TheReasonsWhy.Us we are actively generating and collating the epidemiological profiles of pediatric cancer patients. At the same time, we are creating a platform for families to call upon society to focus on identifying the causes of childhood causer, so that we achieve the ultimate goal – its prevention.
Families complete a comprehensive family history questionnaire incorporating diet, neonatal practices, medications, infections, sports, leisure and other personal activities.
We will be building on the work of Dr Michael Scheurer, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and Director of Texas Children’s Cancer Center Epidemiology Program, who has been collecting these types of data from their local childhood cancer patients and is now working to extend this program across Texas. By partnering with this group, we can help expand the investigation.
Our second project is a DNA genome / geospatial study to identify environmental risk factors in cancer etiology. Spatial cluster analysis will be combined with analysis of genome profiles in order to identify previously undiscovered risk factors for pediatric cancers.
In Florida, a series of spatial investigations have revealed evidence of geographic variation in pediatric cancer incidence, and have identified potential clusters of elevated risk. As such, we will be raising funds for a rigorous epidemiological investigation of pediatric cancer incidence in Florida and the genome-wide genotyping on adolescent cancer patient blood samples.
Through this approach, the project aims to identify novel genetic risk factors for pediatric cancer, in addition to testing whether associations of previously postulated risk factors are augmented by an adverse environment.
The research will be conducted by the project’s architects, Dr Raid Amin, Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, The University of West Florida; and Dr Travis Gerke, Assistant Member at Moffit Cancer Center and Visiting Scientist, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health.
“This is an exciting pilot study taking an innovative approach in doing a genome-wide scan comparing cases in low “exposure” areas to those in high “exposure” areas,” said Dr Michael Scheurer. “We will never be cancer free until we know what are cancer’s causes and investigation of the gene-environment interaction is core to finding out.”
Corporate, sports and entertainment sponsors are being approached and wide media coverage is anticipated, so that the distribution of the balls will raise awareness of the need to intensify scientific research into the causes of pediatric cancer, and thereby to focus on prevention.