Using Humor to Inspire Hope for Children with Brain Tumors
The fifth annual “No Laughing Matter” comedy night was held on October 12th and raised a record-breaking $1,000,000 to support pediatric brain tumor research at Weill Cornell Medicine. The fundraising event was hosted at the New York Athletic Club by the Children’s Brain Tumor Project Foundation, which provides critical financial support to Dr. Mark Souweidane and Dr. Jeffrey Greenfield so they can expand their research initiatives at the Children’s Brain Tumor Project (CBTP) lab at Weill Cornell Medicine.
“We are so grateful to the board of directors at the Children’s Brain Tumor Project Foundation, our dinner chair Tara Lipton, our honoree Meryl Witmer, our generous donors and sponsors, and the incredible comedic talent who made this event such a tremendous success. We rely on the success of this event not only to maintain the research that is already underway, but to grow our efforts so we can discover cures and bring them to clinic even faster,” said Dr. Jeffrey Greenfield.
The event included an emotional donation appeal, raising much-needed research funding to support the critical work at the lab. There were also several children and families in attendance who have been personally impacted by a pediatric brain tumor diagnosis, like Liam (8-years-old), who bravely appeared on stage to share some inspirational words, and Kai Brown Coley (10-years-old), who performed his own compositions on the baby grand piano during cocktail hour.
Liz Laugh Love Award Recipient Meryl Witmer
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the “Liz Laugh Love” award to Meryl Witmer for her commitment to advocating for children with brain tumors since her own son, Andrew, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma. She is grateful for the great care Andrew received and thankful to all of the doctors, nurses and friends who were part of the integral team that led to his great outcome. Andrew, who attended the event, graduated from Princeton University in 2020 with a degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering and works in the Washington D.C. area.
Ms. Witmer exemplifies the meaning of a patient advocate. She has shown generous support for many clinical trials and research advancements including Dr. Mark Souweidane’s novel work using convection-enhanced delivery in children with deadly brain tumors. Her door is always open to families who face this frightening diagnosis, and she demonstrates unwavering commitment to this important cause.
The award is named after Elizabeth (Liz) Minter, who is remembered for her abundant love and familiar laughter after she passed away from a rare brain tumor in 2012. Before she died, Elizabeth created a unique fundraising initiative that became the cornerstone for the creation of the Weill Cornell Medicine Children’s Brain Tumor Project.
An all-star comedy line-up donated time and talent to the laugh-out-loud fundraiser on October 12, to help raise research funding for rare and inoperable brain tumors at Weill Cornell Medicine. Comedians included Michael Cruz Kayne, Chase O’Donnell, Carmen Lynch, Michael Kosta, and the Improvised Shakespeare Company.