When Andrea Verdone Gorsegner’s daughter Natalie was diagnosed with leukemia just before her third birthday, she knew life would never be the same. Gorsegner quit her job to care for Natalie full-time and soon afterwards started a foundation for kids battling cancer. Today, Natalie is cancer free and Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer has raised more than $1 million for childhood cancer research.
New Jersey Family: Your daughter Natalie Grace is the inspiration behind Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer. When and how did you get it off the ground?
Andrea Verdone Gorsegnor: When Natalie was diagnosed with leukemia in August of 2012, I immediately began immersing myself in all things related to childhood cancer. I quickly discovered how underfunded research was for our kids and knew that my part in Natalie’s battle was to raise funds and advocate for all of these little fighters. That spring, I launched our very first fundraising campaign asking our Facebook followers to send us a single dollar. By September, $110,000 had been raised for research!
NJF: Infinite Love is volunteer-based and has raised more than $1 million for childhood cancer research. What have done with this money?
AVG: With the money raised, we’ve been able to fulfill 26 research grants to our country’s leading research hospitals and facilities. The best part is that each year, we focus our fundraising efforts on a different form of childhood cancer. This way, not only are we supporting each type financially, but we’re also educating our online community that otherwise might not know these different types of childhood cancer even exist.
NJF: Beyond raising money for life-saving clinical trials, a big part of your mission is to educate people about childhood cancer. What do you think is the biggest misconception out there?
AVG: Before Natalie was diagnosed, I had no idea that cancer was the leading cause of death (by disease) amongst our kids. Equally shocking was that childhood cancer only receives 4 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s annual research budget, and because of this, there have only been four new drugs developed for any type of pediatric cancer (there are over a dozen types) in the past 25 years! A major misconception is that children’s cancers benefit from the research of adult cancers. While there may be some truth to this, no two cancers are the same, and because our children are still growing, their bodies metabolize medications differently, which requires a whole other set of rules in order for research to be successful.
NJF: How are you helping families who have a child battling cancer?
AVG: In addition to having funded 1 million dollars towards research, we also help families both financially and emotionally. Whether it’s sending a family a grant, helping them pay bills, fulfilling a wish for a child or even being a much-needed sounding board, we’ll do anything in our power to help these families.
NJF: What are some easy ways every family can make a difference?
AVG: Being volunteer based, our foundation is at a max as far as the number of annual fundraisers that we’re able to organize on our own. We desperately need more individual people and businesses to take it upon themselves to hold their own fundraisers for us. So, whether it’s something on a smaller scale such as a child setting up a lemonade stand, an adult taking five minutes to set up a birthday fundraiser on Facebook or even something on a larger scale, like a school-wide fundraiser or a company stepping up to be one of our sponsors. In a nutshell, we need more people to open their hearts by creating their own fundraisers for Infinite Love.
Go to infiniteloveforkidsfightingcancer.org to help.