The only thing worse than hearing the horrific words, “Your child has cancer,” is learning that there really isn’t much that can be done about it.
That’s why Amber and Tony Bender of Kingwood created Addi’s Faith Foundation.
“We saw a huge need in the world of childhood cancer when our own daughter, Addi, was diagnosed,” said Amber. “Addi was treated with 35-year-old, hand-me-down drugs made for adults, which were extremely toxic and, worse of all, ineffective.”
Tony and Amber founded Addi’s Faith Foundation 10 years ago to honor their daughter, Addison Faith Bender, who died of a cancerous brain tumor at age 2, and to fund childhood cancer research as well as financial and emotional support for families struggling to care for a child with cancer.
“We believe there is a cure out there and together, we can find it,” said a determined Amber.
The 10th Annual Walk by Faith 5K Race/Walk benefiting Addi’s Faith Foundation will be held Sunday, Nov. 11 at 8:30 a.m. at the University of Houston.
Addi’s Faith also hosts “Addishack,” their annual golf tournament each April at Tour 18 in Humble, but the not-for-profit foundation also relies on revenue from members of the Sunshine Circle who pledge a monthly donation.
“The Sunshine Circle is our only steady income and it is important to be able to count on it coming in,” said Amber. “In honor of our 10th anniversary, our goal this year is to reach $10,000 from our Sunshine Circle members. We’re halfway there right now! It’s amazing what $10 a month can do when all those $10 donations are added together.”
The funds are used to help families in need.
“There are hundreds of very similar stories I could tell about families who are caring for a child with cancer and facing added expenses, too,” Amber said.
She describes a single mom with three children, one with cancer. After a long session of treatments, the child was going to be released from the hospital but the mom was worried about being evicted from their home.
“Addi’s Faith was able to get them caught up with their rent, allowing them to spend Christmas at home without worry,” said Amber. “We helped another mom get a car after hers was flooded during Hurricane Harvey. We sent another family that was spending hundreds of dollars a month on Uber an Uber gift card, and we sent a check to a family to replace the dad’s income, so he could be with his son during the final weeks of his life.”
Less than four percent of cancer research funding is allocated to pediatrics, so Tony and Amber have put an added emphasis on funding efforts to find safer and more effect treatments for kids and, perhaps, one day finding a cure. Addi’s Faith Foundation supports the work of Vidya Gopalakrishnan, Ph.D., associate professor of Pediatrics at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, who has developed groundbreaking therapy for treating pediatric brain cancer.
“Thanks to Addi’s Faith support, this research has entered into a Phase I clinical trial,” said Amber, “a rarity in the world of pediatric brain cancer. It shows tremendous promise and we expect this project to progress into Phase II in a year.”
Tony and Amber hope to expand Addi’s Faith Foundation by expanding nationally.
“The future involves growing the number of supporters, so we can offer more services and fund additional research projects,” said Amber, “and we’re planning expansion projects to become nationally recognized. We already help families across the United States and now we will begin to hold events throughout the U.S.A., too.”
Addi’s dad, Tony, knows that nothing will bring their daughter back, “…but we are truly honored to see that her legacy will live on.”
For more information about participating in the Annual Walk by Faith at the University of Houston on Nov. 11, or to become a sustaining member of the Sunshine Circle, visit AddisFaith.org.