Child’s memory inspires gift for childhood cancer research

$250K gift through Sanford Health Foundation aims to help find better treatments

Father and son, a Sanford Children's patient, in matching red shirts smile at camp.

The legacy of a special 10-year-old boy inspired a $250,000 gift through the Sanford Health Foundation to fuel childhood cancer research.

In the final weeks of his battle against cancer, 10-year-old Landon Ahrendt made one wish of his parents, Scott and Jaymi: that they keep helping other kids and families fighting childhood cancer.

Through the L3 Foundation (Live, Love, Landon), the Ahrendts continue to do just that.

Since Landon passed away in 2014, L3 has rallied passionate support and raised funds to advance pediatric cancer research and programs, like Camp Bring It On!, for kids and families. Along with the generosity of Scott’s brother, Jason Ahrendt, and his wife, Heather, L3 and the Ahrendt family have given nearly $1 million to date to honor Landon’s final wish.

L3’s most recent move — a $250,000 investment through the Sanford Health Foundation — promises to help drive more effective treatments for the disease.

Giving new hope to kids fighting cancer

With its investment, the L3 Foundation will sponsor a phase I clinical trial through Sanford Health’s new Innovations in Oncology Pilot Trials initiative. The funds will be awarded to a forward-thinking researcher or clinician focused on advancing immunotherapy or cellular treatments for pediatric soft tissue cancers, like the rhabdomyosarcoma that took Landon’s life.

“Right now with rhabdo, a child never gets to say ‘I am cancer free!’ That needs to change,” Scott said. “While it is too late to help Landon, our commitment to him is to make a difference for other kids.”

Though based in Texas, the L3 Foundation was drawn to Sanford’s commitment to innovative phase 1 clinical trials. These studies are the first in a four-phase process of testing treatments in people. Sanford has invested in the staff and infrastructure to support these complex studies in effort to accelerate more effective, accessible and less toxic treatments to patients, especially those with the fewest options for treatment.

Sharon Hunt, vice president of research operations at Sanford, commended L3 for its generosity.

“Our team at Sanford is humbled by this chance to partner with the L3 Foundation and help give new hope to kids and families fighting pediatric cancer,” Sharon said. “These dollars will help drive progress in pediatric soft tissue cancer research, an area of research that needs more funds and attention. We’re committed to driving collaboration and making sure the momentum continues through all phases of research.”

Next steps

The application process for the grant award will begin Feb. 15. Prize-winners will be announced this summer.

Grant applicants do not need to be employed by Sanford Health, however they will collaborate with Sanford’s team and use Sanford’s health system and patient base, ensuring that all dollars stay within the organization for accountability.

Interested in joining the L3 Foundation and the Ahrendt families to advance this innovative pediatric cancer research initiative? Please contact Erin Sanderson with the Sanford Health Foundation.

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Posted In Cancer, Children's, Foundation, Research

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