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Keira Grace Foundation Hosts 6th Annual Fundraising Event to Celebrate the Lives of Pediatric Cancer Survivors in the Dominican Republic

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Gainesville, Fla. (December 16, 2010) – The tragic death of a local Gainesville family’s infant daughter has morphed into a restorative mission to save the lives of hundreds of children diagnosed with cancer in developing countries. These lives will be celebrated during "Share the Cure 2011,” the annual fundraising event for Keira Grace Foundation on Feb. 11, at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Eight years ago, Drs. Michael and Eileen Lauzardo’s two children were simultaneously diagnosed with two different types of leukemia. Their oldest son, who was 4-years-old at the time, survived, but their 17-month-old daughter, Keira, did not. Faced with the tragic loss of their daughter, while experiencing hope with the cure of their son, the Lauzardos were moved to help other families of pediatric cancer patients.

"As we looked for ways to contribute to children’s cancer, our efforts felt insignificant,” said Michael Lauzardo, M.D., co-founder of nonprofit, Keira Grace Foundation and chief of the division of mycobacteriology at the University of Florida College of Medicine. "But when we turned our focus beyond our borders, we realized we could make a bigger impact and change the trend of survival rates by more than 400 percent.”

Lauzardo says the treatment of children’s cancer has improved dramatically over the past 30 years and many forms are considered curable. However, this is not the case for 80 percent of the world’s children who live in poverty stricken countries where a cancer diagnosis is often a death sentence.

"For the same amount of money it costs to treat one child for cancer in the United States, we can save 10 children in a country like the Dominican Republic,” said Lauzardo. "Our mission with Keira Grace Foundation is to share the cure for cancer that is readily available to American children with those children in developing countries.”

The Lauzardos plan to bring hope to more children with cancer and their families in the Dominican Republic during its 6th annual fundraising event on Friday, Feb. 11. The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts with cocktails and dinner provided by Blue Water Bay’s chef Byron Terwillegar, whose cuisine has been featured on the Travel Channel. A special program will follow, hosted by WCJB-TV20’s evening anchor, David Snyder. The fundraising event will conclude with a private concert by Gainesville native, Chris McCarty (www.chrismccarty.com) who has shared the stage with the legendary James Brown and opened for headliners like Dave Matthews, Sister Hazel and Sugar Ray.

Tickets to the event are $89 if purchased by Jan. 31, or $99 starting Feb. 1, and can be purchased from the Phillips Center Box Office (352-392-2787) or www.ticketmaster.com. For more information visit: www.keiragracefoundation.com.