Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become holiday shopping traditions, but now for the fifth year in a row, people world-wide have been celebrating Giving Tuesday, which aims to give back in the holiday season. One local nonprofit, Canines-N-Kids, looks to raise $30,000 this year, and every donation is being matched by Petco.
Canines-N-Kids was founded in September by Loudoun resident and biotech executive Ulrike Szalay. The foundation works to raise funds for cancer research and clinical trials for canine and pediatric cancers. Dogs share much of the same DNA as humans, so progress in fighting canine cancer can inform new approaches to fighting pediatric cancer — which can manifest differently than cancer in adults.
“We’ve all been touched by cancer, and for the 16,000 kids diagnosed with cancer in the US each year, there are virtually no resources committed from pharma or the NIH,” Szalay said.
Only three new medicines have been developed for pediatric cancer in the last 30 years, four percent of the NIH’s budget goes to kids’ cancer and virtually no pharmaceutical industry money goes to pediatric cancer research. And for the four million dogs diagnosed with cancer each year, funding for research and new medications does not look much better, Szalay said.
“The good news is that there is amazing and hopeful science emerging from comparative oncology — treating, studying and beating cancer in man’s best friend when they get sick, as a way also to help doctors accelerate better treatments and a cure for kids with these same cancers,” Szalay said. “We can help both our precious kids and beloved canines — a real win-win. I am honored that the Petco Foundation shares this vision, and through their generous matching donations to those from our community, will help us begin to put the necessary resources together to fulfill our mission.”
Canines-N-Kids has a Board and Medical Advisory Group which includes leading pediatric and veterinary oncologists, immunologists and genomics from top academic institutions around the country, as well as other leaders in business and government, Szalay said.
Research money goes toward cancers that develop in children and dogs, such as bone cancer, some central brain and central nervous system cancers, and lymph and blood cancers.