How Big Slick’s $1.3 Million Benefits Children’s Mercy

Learn how the money raised by this month’s Big Slick fundraiser is used by the Children’s Mercy Cancer Center.

Jaws dropped when the total raised by this year’s Big Slick fundraiser was announced: A record-shattering $1.3 million. More impressive than that sum? How the money will be used by Children’s Mercy Cancer Center.

Nearly 2,000 kids with childhood cancers, sickle cell diseases, hemophilia and other blood disorders are treated by Children’s Mercy Cancer Center each year. The Cancer Genomics Program focuses on the sequencing and analysis of rare inherited diseases in children by developing clinical tests for next-generation medical treatments designed to improve outcomes.

Dr. Erin Guest, director of Children’s Mercy’s Cancer Genomics Program, spoke with us about the project last fall and explained that the launch of the Cancer Genomics Program was made possible by the money raised by Big Slick in 2014 as well as sponsors such as Black & Veatch.

“Cancer genomics really refers to looking at what mutations are present in the cancer and trying to then figure out if there are treatments that can be tailored to each patient’s care,” Guest said. “It’s a molecular-guided treatment—if you know what mutations are there, you might be able to pick a certain drug that might target those mutations.”

The $1.3 million will allow the Cancer Genomics Program to continue developing molecularly targeted therapy designed specifically for each patient, rather than providing standard chemotherapy.

“The cellular therapy programs, the immunotherapy programs, they’re finding innovative ways to treat cancer rather than just chemotherapy and transplant and radiation,” Guest explained. “We’re going to find that we can do it better, we can have less side effects and, with the addition of immune therapy, we’re going to really see better outcomes.”