It was an inspiring day at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
The ChadTough Foundation presented a check for $211,246 to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Initiative, the money raised through Chase Winovich‘s fundraising efforts in December. Winovich, Grant Newsome, Mo Hurst Jr., Josh Metellus, Devin Bush II, Defensive Coordinator Don Brown, and friend of the program Larry Prout Jr., all dyed their hair to support ChadTough.
The money will be matched by University of Michigan Regent Ron Weiser, bringing to total to more than $400,000.
“I can’t tell you guys how much of an impact that this idea that Chase Winovich had has had on this foundation,” said ChadTough co-founder Tammi Carr. “We had 10,000 donors before this happened and 3,000 additional donors came in through this effort.
“The money is amazing – $211,000 that is going to be matched – but almost bigger is the awareness because people are starting to know about what this is and that it’s not okay for these kids to keep dying. So you guys are making an amazing impact and Michigan athletics and Michigan football has been such a tremendous support to us. We’re so excited to recognize the gift.”
Pediatric oncologist Dr. Carl Koschmann and pathologist Dr. Sriram Venneti accepted the gift on behalf of the PBTRI.
“This whole effort has a huge impact on us,” said Dr. Koschmann. “As Dr. Venneti can also attest and a lot of other investigators here, we now have just an incredible amount of energy and time and support to study and to improve the therapies for DIPG in a way that I don’t think we thought was even possible for DIPG or, really, any childhood disease. We have such momentum and such support that we are really in an unparalleled position to make a big change.”
Once the fundraiser led by Winovich took off, it was important to the Carr family that the money make a tangible difference the players could see for themselves.
“It was right around the time that this effort related to the bowl game surpassed all of our wildest dreams as to how successful it was going to be,” recalled Dr. Koschmann. “(Tammi) said, ‘We have a pocket of money coming and we want to do something extra special with this.'”
With the increased attention around DIPG in Ann Arbor, Dr. Koschmann and Dr. Venneti have had many talented researchers come to them to work in their lab – some even offering to work for free.
“This is fantastic from my perspective,” said Dr. Koschmann. “A lot of talented individuals coming from different fields and, honestly, the issue I have is space. I need more space for more of these talented researchers to plug in their energy and their intelligence into this problem.”
With the money raised from this fundraiser, Dr. Koschmann learned Wednesday morning that they would be able to double his lab space.
“This is something we were celebrating in the lab,” he said. “It’s maybe hard to point out how hard that is to do – how hard that is to find space in a busy, medical campus, and to get the support from the med school level. The med school recognized how important this effort is and how much support we have and said, ‘We have to do this.'”
Following the check presentation, Dr. Venneti took the players on a tour of his lab and Dr. Koschmann’s lab. They saw firsthand DIPG tumor cells, a new piece of equipment that allows research to see the growth of DIPG tumor cells in real time, and met with the members of the research teams.
It allowed them to tangibly see the impact they made.
“From top to bottom, I’m just so lucky and blessed from the bottom of my heart to have worked and experienced these interactions with all these great people,” said Winovich. “Chad, you’re up there and you’re looking down on us right now. We love you, Buddy, and we’re working hard for you.”