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Keira Grace Foundation Hosts Annual Fundraising Event at Hippodrome Theatre to Help Children with Cancer in the Dominican Republic

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Gainesville, Fla. – Over the past 30 years, the treatment of children’s cancer has improved dramatically 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 cancer is often a death sentence.

"When most Americans think about helping children in developing countries, they think of problems like malnourishment and shelter, not advanced diseases like cancer,” said Michael Lauzardo, M.D., co-founder of Keira Grace Foundation and Chief of the Division of Mycobacteriology at the University of Florida College of Medicine. "We want to make a major impact for cancer, not just a ripple, and the way to do that is in countries like the Dominican Republic, India and Honduras where children diagnosed with cancer are four times more likely to die. For the cost of treating one child for cancer in the United States, we can save 10 children in the Dominican Republic.”

Lauzardo and his wife Eileen, also a physician, started Keira Grace Foundation five years ago after facing an unprecedented life situation. In the spring of 2003, after their infant daughter, Keira, survived major open heart surgery for a congenital heart defect, more tragedy struck. Their 4-year-old son, Ryan, and Keira simultaneously were diagnosed with two different types of leukemia. Ryan survived his cancer but 17-month-old Keira did not. It is this experience that propelled the Lauzardos to form Keira Grace Foundation.

"Through the foundation, Keira’s legacy is to share lifesaving cancer treatment with all children throughout the world and restore hope for the cure,” said Eileen Lauzardo, M.D., who practices family medicine at the Clay County Health Department in Orange Park. "Our message is simple; all we are asking is for others to help us share the cure.”

Keira Grace Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that focuses on taking proven cancer treatments to developing nations where the most impact can be made, changing the trajectory of survival rates by more than 400 percent. The Lauzardos say they are addressing an overlooked, major medical health issue in developing nations by focusing on a specific medical problem and delivering deliberate actions to improve cure rates.

The Lauzardos are hosting their annual fundraising event for Keira Grace Foundation on Saturday March 27 at the Hippodrome Theatre. The focus of this year’s event is to raise money for children with cancer in the Dominican Republic. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails and dinner in the Hippodrome’s new cellar venue and will be catered by Blue Water Bay and Chef Byron Terwillegar, whose cuisine has been featured on the Travel Channel’s "Taste of America.” At 8 p.m. the function moves to the Hippodrome’s Mainstage for the program that will include special entertainment and a performance of an original modern dance, "Metamorphosis," by pre-professional company, Sun Country Dance Theatre, led by acclaimed choreographer and artistic director, Judy Benton.

Tickets to the event are $79 if purchased by March 12 from the Hippodrome Theater (352-375-4477 or www.thehipp.org/news/events.php). For more information about Keira Grace Foundation visit: www.keiragracefoundation.com.