PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Hundreds of friends, family and big-hearted strangers gathered in Philadelphia Thursday to raise money for research for a childhood cancer called DIPG in the name of a very special little girl. Philomena Stendardo has passed on but her parents ae on a mission to turn her death into life for other sick children.
Bean's Ball got underway right on tim at an upscale banquet room in Spring Garden, Thursday night. But the woman behind this fundraiser believes events like it could have been staged years earlier.
"It is so overdue that we, as a society, do something about the profound injustice that exists in the lack of funding for our children," Mina Carroll said. "We have to do better."
"Bean" was the nickname for Mina's daughter. Philomena Stendardo was a tough, precocious, always-smiling little athlete from Philly's Port Richmond neighborhood.
One day in the summer of 2016, her dad noticed she seemed a little off. A doctors diagnosis confirmed the worst: an inoperable brain tumor--a rare and always fatal disease that goes by the acronym DIPG.
"'Am I dreaming?'" Philomena's Dad Mark remembers thinking at the time. "I really couldn't believe my little girl was diagnosed with brain cancer."
A papal blessing, radiation, chemotherapy-- nothing worked. 10 months after she was diagnosed Philomena was gone at the age of eight.
"It amazes me," said Mark to FOX 29's Bruce Gordon. "When you see a kid that can go through that and not complain, always have a smile on her face. We can do anything!"
And so, with some emceeing help from FOX 29's Bob Kelly, Bean's Ball is the first step in a goal of raising $400,000 in two years through the family's Storm the Heavens foundation.
Pediatric cancer researchers were on hand for the event to promise money raised will be put to good use.
"Our mission, said Dr. Charles Keller, scientific director at the Children's Cancer Therapy Development Institute, "is to move basic science discoveries into clinical trials so that the children indeed have treatments-- promising treatments.
Philomena's mom believes children's cancer research is scandalously underfunded. She hopes the work carried on in her daughter's name will change that.
"Awareness leads to funding," she said. "Funding to research and research to a cure. There's no other way for it to happen."
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