Children’s Research Fund to Celebrate 25 Year Affiliation With Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Children’s Research Fund Celebrates 25 Years With Lurie Children’s Hospital

For 65 years, the Children’s Research Fund has been transforming futures through support for medical research — making everyday moments possible for countless patients. This year the organization will celebrate an important anniversary at a very special event.

On Dec. 3, the Children’s Research Fund (CRF) will celebrate its 25th anniversary as a principal benefactor of the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago with the 2016 Children’s Ball, “Moments: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.”

There is so much for the 1,000-plus guests to celebrate, including already raising more than $67 million to fund research that led to significant advancements in the treatment of many illnesses. They’re poised for even greater impact too, providing opportunities for grateful families to give back, creating hopeful futures for young patients, and showcasing success stories.

As medical knowledge has become more sophisticated, so have CRF initiatives. The funds raised at this ball and in future initiatives are more likely than ever to help develop “precision medicine” — tailoring treatments to the specific conditions and needs of individual patients.

Pam Netzky and Ashley Hemphill Netzky and Ann and John Amboian are co-chairs of the 2016 Children’s Research Fund Campaign and Children’s Ball. In a conversation with Make It Better, they, along with CRF Executive Vice Chair Donna G. Drescher, explain their passion for this cause.

Children's Research Fund's Children's Ball Co-Chairs (2016)
2016 Children’s Ball co-chairs (left to right): Pam Netzky, Ashley Hemphill Netzky, Ann Amboian and John Amboian

Pam: Children’s Ball proceeds support the hospital’s Precision Medicine initiative, which is charged with speeding the search for cancer cures and accelerating the potential of immunotherapy as the next-generation standard of cancer care for children.

Donna: I’m a grateful parent. My son was diagnosed at age 16 with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL). It is almost impossible to describe the overwhelming impact of being told your child has a life-altering, possibly life-ending, illness. The state of confusion, concern, uncertainty, unpreparedness all culminating with the need to deal with the toughest decisions you will ever have to make. Where do you go? Who do you rely on?

Lurie Children’s is a very special place. The technical expertise is the best. But also every interaction we had with all staff was expert, professional, compassionate, and put our son first.

Now my son is 37, married and the father of two beautiful boys. Originally I got involved as a way to give back to the institution that saved our son’s life. Now I’m also excited to realize that with this I make a difference in the lives of other children affected by all sorts of terrible childhood diseases.

John: CRF donations are critical to the mission of Lurie Children’s as an extremely reliable source of funding for primary research by many of the world’s leading researchers based here. This initial philanthropic investment usually garners additional funds from other sources.

Ann: One of our best examples of the efficiency and effectiveness of CRF funding is the work of Dr. Christine DiDonato. She received early grants from CRF to support her research on spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), an incurable disease. Subsequently the National Institute of Health (NIH) awarded $1.3 million to advance this work. Now the first drug to treat SMA is up for FDA approval, after clinical trials led by Lurie Children’s.

Donna: Past balls have included a 7-year-old cancer survivor who “danced up a storm,” a high school cystic fibrosis patient heading to college, [and] a kidney patient who had received a transplant from his own mom. At this year’s ball, we will meet two more patients who benefitted directly from CRF funding.

With advances in research, the possibilities are endless. We need to do for the children of the future what people did for our own children.


Visit for more information about the 2016 Children’s Ball.

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