Plano residents Ben and Cathy Braden were just ordinary parents to a happy two-year-old until their daughter Avery was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a rare childhood cancer, in 2015. Two years later Avery achieved remission, but the Bradens continue to fight through their nonprofit Owls for Avery Foundation (OFAF), which raises funds for cancer research. When Cathy’s Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority sisters started sending Avery care packages with stuffed toys of their house mascot, an owl, it gave the Bradens inspiration for the name.
Where did Avery receive her treatment?
Cathy: Her surgeries were at Children’s Health in Dallas, her chemo was at Children’s in Dallas and Plano. The Child Life Specialists were helpful with distracting Avery during long waits and awarding her gifts or prizes each time she had to go through something traumatic. Her oncologist, Dr. Andrew Martin, was always extremely patient, never rushed us during our appointments and remained positive even when the odds were against us.
Why do you think a foundation like Owls for Avery was needed?
Cathy: Research gave us facts, like only four percent of federal government cancer research funding goes to study pediatric cancer. Foundations such as St. Baldrick’s bring in a lot of funding, yet unless doctors are writing grant proposals for specific cancers, there isn’t research being done. The funding goes to those asking for it.
Ben: We are being sought after by researchers asking for grants to work on those cancer research projects. Our goal is to grow large enough to fund the most promising projects before they go to trials. We’d like our name to become synonymous with childhood cancer research.
Cathy: Research is pointing toward the future and the great genome project – that someday cancer treatments will be personalized to succeed based on a person’s genetic profile. The future will never get here if we don’t fund the research projects today.
How can Planoites help?
Ben: On May 19 OFAF will be hosting a golf tournament fundraiser at Twin Creeks golf course. We’d love for folks to spread the word that anyone can play, anyone can sponsor. It’s meant to be a fun day, no need to be a professional golfer to play.
Cathy: Right now, there’s a kid and their family somewhere that just got the news that they’re really sick. You never think about these things until it’s your world that’s been turned upside down. It’s all about the kids; we just want to help other families who are beginning their fight.Buy Tickets to OFAF Golf Tournament >