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Keira Grace Foundation Raises $35,000 to Bring Cancer Treatment to Children in the Dominican Republic

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Gainesville, Fla. – More than 175 guests attended Keira Grace Foundation’s fundraising program, "Deliver the Cure: Dominican Republic” at the Hippodrome State Theatre on March 27. A total of $35,000 in donations were raised that will benefit children diagnosed with treatable forms of cancer in the Dominican Republic.

The objective of "Deliver the Cure: Dominican Republic” is to increase survival rates among children with cancer from 20 to 80 percent. Dr. Michael Lauzardo, co-founder of the nonprofit, Keira Grace Foundation and Chief of the Division of Mycobacteriology at the University of Florida College of Medicine, says this will be accomplished by addressing four vital areas of cancer treatment to increase survival rates.

"Curing cancer is a very complicated process,” said Lauzardo, who started Keira Grace Foundation with his wife Eileen, also a physician, after their infant daughter, Keira and 4-year-old son, Ryan, simultaneously were diagnosed with two different types of leukemia. "And if you happen to live in a developing nation, a diagnosis of cancer is more like a death sentence. There’s much progress to be made.”

The Lauzardos have made progress and an impact in the Dominican Republic over the past five years by increasing survival rates by more than 400 percent. Their focus is to support medical staff in the hospitals financially and with proper training, as well as providing proper infrastructure support such as high-speed Internet, state-of-the-art equipment and medicine and access to world-class cancer specialists’ consultation.

"We've proven that our program works and we are saving lives," says Lauzardo. "Now the problem is we have more children than ever being treated, and even more waiting for treatment."

Lauzardo says it’s a good problem to have but they will need about $140,000 to accomplish their goals for the Dominican Republic program this year.

"We are very encouraged from the outpouring of generous support from the Gainesville community,” says Lauzardo. "This is a great start to accomplish our goal this year and we plan to continue fundraising in other areas of the country throughout the year.”

The Lauzardo’s son, Ryan survived his cancer but 17-month-old Keira did not. The Lauzardos formed Keira Grace Foundation to bring hope, restoration and life to other families faced with cancer and chose to focus on developing nations where they could have the most impact. Keira Grace Foundation is the only family foundation bringing cancer treatment to developing countries.

The fundraising event began with a live butterfly release and dinner by Blue Water Bay in the Hippodrome’s new cellar venue. At 8 p.m., guests were led to the Hippodrome’s Mainstage where pre-professional company, Sun Country Dance Theatre, performed "Metamorphosis,” a modern dance which portrayed butterflies emerging from cocoons. Then, Grace at Fort Clark Church performed an artistic interpretation of, "We are the World.” David Snyder, anchor for WCJB TV-20 news, led the fundraising portion of the program.

None of this could have been possible without the generosity of event sponsors: Dana and Debby Focks, Larry Roose and Merrill Lynch, Drs. Mark Brantley and Judy Lew, Bill and Milda Burkhalter, Carpenter, Roscow P.A., Drs. Bill and Marci Slayton, Steve and Jane Dorman, Wayne and Magali Gabb, Friends of Stepping Stones Preschool, Pitch Inc., Sun Country Dance Theatre, Blue Water Bay, Grace at Fort Clarke Church, Baker’s Sporting Goods, West Farms and Greathouse Butterfly Farm.