Why I Care: “They did absolutely nothing to get this disease.”

Volunteers Herschel Evans and Denise Preziotti share Why I Care.

Many of us in the childhood brain tumor community have a direct connection to the cause. We may have a child, grandchild, sibling, niece, nephew, friend, coworker who has been impacted by a pediatric brain tumor.

There are others, though, who came to support our collective mission on their own. Perhaps they read an article or attended an event. Somewhere, somehow, they were inspired to dedicate their time and resources to helping kids and teens with brain tumors.

One of those is Garrett Liebe, a Chapel Hill High School senior and baseball team member who started and has organized his school’s Vs. Cancer games for three years running.

Founded by pediatric brain tumor survivor Chase Jones, Vs. Cancer joined the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation in 2016, giving athletes and communities a platform to help local kids with cancer. Half of the proceeds fund childhood cancer programs in each team’s region. The other half funds research for pediatric brain tumors, the deadliest childhood cancer.

In an interview with The Daily Tar Heel, Garrett explained his reason for why he cares about this cause:

“Just waking up and being healthy is something I am thankful for each and every day. I have had friends in elementary school that suffered with cancer at a young age and the struggles to go through all of that, and to see what they had to go through seemed like such a burden and their families were struggling from it, as well. So, for me, it’s an opportunity to give back to them and help those families that are having a hard time.”

Volunteers and fundraisers like Garrett are a huge part of helping us achieve a world without childhood brain tumors.

Herschel Evans, a Ride for Kids volunteer and organizer of the Safety Drive for a Cure fundraiser, credits others’ dedication as his initial reason for volunteering after his first Ride for Kids in 1987.

“I was struck by how many people chose to give of their time and labor to bring it to reality. I kept coming back because it was a great experience as well as something I felt good to be a part of. It didn’t take long to realize that these people were dedicated to a very worthy cause. I’ve felt drawn to be a part of it ever since that day.”

Denise Preziotti, a member of the Starry Night 5K planning committee, cites a similar experience from volunteering over the past 10 years.

“PBTF has the most caring and dedicated team, and I have also been lucky to get to know many of the incredible families they serve. I’ve been a part of many different things over the years with PBTF, including making care packages for newly diagnosed families, coordinating volunteers for Williams Walk & Run and Tumor Trooper Run/Walk, serving on a scholarship committee and volunteering at SkaterAid, A Taste of Hope, picnics and holiday parties. This is also my third year serving on the Starry Night Atlanta planning committee. I am honored to be a part of such an incredible organization and to do what I can to help families and children affected by a pediatric brain tumor.”

Ultimately, though, it’s the 13 children diagnosed each day with a brain tumor who are Herschel’s and others’ reason for “Why I Care”:

“I am overwhelmed when I think of the innocence of our Stars. They did absolutely nothing to get this disease. They are completely reliant on the care of others to get through it. They have the faith of a child that others can help make it better, and we can. It can’t be denied that their faith and innocence require us to step up and provide the help and support needed to see them through. We can put such a glow and a smile on the faces of the Stars. Just to see that glow firsthand would make anyone want to be more involved in the PBTF.”

Want to get involved?

Here are just a few way to join Herschel, Denise and Garrett in our mission to Care. Cure. Thrive.

  • Ride for Kids is the longest-running, most successful motorcycle charity event in the country. Sign up for a ride near you at www.rideforkids.org
  • Starry Night 5K shines a light on the deadliest childhood cancer. Join us at one of our 9 walk/runs across the country or participate in our virtual Starry Night: mystarrynight.org.
  • Vs. Cancer provides any sports team, any athlete, any community the opportunity to help kids with cancer. Learn more at www.vs-cancer.org/get-involved
  • Or host your own fundraiser with My Fundraiser and Facebook Fundraising

Whatever your reason, thank you to all of our supporters for fighting for futures!