Inspired to act as a result of the death of their son, Jayne and Chris Dearborn of West Linn created the Blue Butterfly Campaign.
Their nonprofit organization hosted a major fundraiser last week, putting researchers that much closer to finding a cure for childhood acute myeloid leukemia.
A rare form of cancer among children, acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is 'a cancer of the myeloid line of blood cells, characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells, which accumulate in the bone marrow and interfere with the production of normal blood cells,' according to the campaign's website. Its incidence increases with age.
The Dearborns founded the Blue Butterfly Campaign in memory of their son, Max, who was 7 years old when he died from the disease in 2001.
The nonprofit organization received its 501(c)3 status in 2009 and hosted its first major fundraiser in August 2010.
This year, its second annual fundraiser golf tournament was held Aug. 5 at Langdon Farms Golf Club in Aurora. More than 150 people - including residents of West Linn and Lake Oswego, corporate sponsors and supporters of the Northwest chapter of Leukemia Lymphoma Society - attended the tournament's dinner and auction, which netted about $60,000 for the campaign, up $40,000 from last year.
'We were really pleasantly surprised and very thankful,' Jayne Dearborn said.
The money raised will support cutting-edge research of childhood AML. Dearborn said the campaign will support the research efforts of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital as it did last year and may support research elsewhere as well.
Unlike the more-common acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), only 20 percent of patients diagnosed with childhood leukemia are diagnosed with AML.
As it's more common, ALL typically receives more funding for research to find a cure, Dearborn said.
As a result, children with ALL now have a 90 percent survival rate, Dearborn said; the survival rate for children with AML, however, is only 40 to 50 percent.
With its efforts to help these children, Dearborn said the campaign is continually growing and continually looking for and in need of volunteers to help organize its annual tournament - procuring items for its auction, recruiting sponsors and more.
'We have an incredible group of volunteers that are our friends. They've worked so hard the last two years,' she said. 'There's just a small core group of us and so there are plenty of jobs available for anybody who's interested.'
And Dearborn said she is thankful for all of the support the campaign has received so far.
'We get tremendous support not only in volunteer time but in people who come out, support us and are very generous,' she said. 'Times are hard right now, but people are still really generous with giving to the cause, and we're very grateful for that.'
Until next year's tournament, the Blue Butterfly Campaign will continue raising awareness about AML and reaching out to families affected by the disease, as, in addition to raising money for research, it also provides an online resource directory to connect families and friends of children with cancer, connecting them with cancer experts, financial aid and support groups.
'(AML) is considered an orphan disease, but we really need to bring more light and attention to it, because kids are dying from it, and it doesn't have to be that way,' Dearborn said. 'We're really trying to create an awareness about this disease and how (its research needs) funding.'
That could lead to children diagnosed with AML in the future standing better chances of survival, she said.
'These kids deserve that 90 percent chance (too).'
For more information about the Blue Butterfly Campaign or its volunteer opportunities, visit www.bluebutterflycampaign.org or email [email protected]