Each year, the lab team hangs strings of lights in the hallways to honor the children who have battled brain cancer under their team’s care. This heartfelt tradition serves as a poignant reminder that behind every scientific experiment, there is a child whose life could be profoundly impacted by their discoveries. The twinkling lights symbolize hope and resilience, encouraging the team to persist in their tireless efforts towards finding cures.

Before the end of the year, we will be hanging 100 tea-light globes from the ceiling in the lab to literally Light up the Lab, each of which will adorn the name of a patient treated by Dr. Mark Souweidane and/or Dr. Jeffrey Greenfield, co-founders of the Children’s Brain Tumor Project Laboratory. We hope to raise $1,000 in honor of each one of those children. Some of whose inspiring stories are featured below.

We want our donors to get to know all of the children for whom we work so hard, and we invite you to visit this site throughout December as new stories are posted each week. All donors who make a year-end contribution will be provided with printable acknowledgement cards that can be given to friends and loved ones in lieu of, or in addition to, gifts. We thank you for honoring our children and supporting our progress.




Kai Brown Coley is a brain cancer patient. He is also on the autism spectrum. But first and foremost, he is a fun-loving, kind-hearted, 10-year-old with an invigorating laugh and the gift of music at his fingertips. Kai has been through many setbacks since his original diagnosis in 2019. Still, you will often find him smiling or laughing, and nothing brings him more joy than playing piano. During the pandemic, Kai taught himself how to play via online piano tutorials, and he has been honing his craft ever since. He has composed over 30 songs, all of which have the depth and feeling of someone beyond his years. Notably, the song he plays here is one of his original compositions entitled, Thirteen.


Lucas was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a universally terminal brain tumor, in July of 2008. He was 12 years old. Lucas was a gifted scholar and athlete. He worked hard at being a goalie for premiere club team FC Westchester and a catcher for his local club baseball team, both of which prepared him for the biggest fight of his life. Fearless and courageous, Lucas was determined to live fully with time he had.  And he did… “Mom, I’ve lived more in my 14 years than most have in a lifetime.”  This was Lucas.  He believed cancer made him a better person.



At the time of her brain tumor diagnosis almost two years ago, Avery was an active, energetic sixth-grader (and thankfully she remains equally active and energetic today!). She was most known for her soccer skills, her bravery on alpine skis, and her unmatched ability to prank those around her with ease.  Thanks to the care she has received from several amazing institutions including Weill Cornell Medicine, Avery has been able to continue participating in all of her prior activities.  This is due to the work of Dr. Souweidane and his team, but also due to Avery’s persistence and perseverance to re-build her muscle memory and re-learn how to do all of her activities again.  It is not as easy as it was before, but Avery is the kid who spends hours improving her soccer skills outside of practice so she doesn’t lose a step. We are proud of her on a daily basis. She is an inspiration to so many people in her life, probably the most significant being her older sister, who she adores more than anything.


We first featured Braiden during our Light up the Lab campaign in 2021, highlighting the holiday inflatables fundraiser that he coordinated in his hometown in support of Dr. Souweidane’s research. This year, we are sharing Braiden’s latest accomplishment, a TedX talk at Dartmouth High School. Braiden first met our team when he was a patient at Weill Cornell Medicine in 2016. Prior to that, Braiden had dozens of consultations pushing for chemotherapy because his tumor was considered inoperable. Instead, Braiden’s dad took him to New York to meet with Dr. Souweidane, who was the only neurosurgeon who said that he could remove Braiden’s tumor with confidence. Please watch as Braiden bravely shares his story of triumph on TedX DHS.


In support of the Light up the Lab year-end appeal, we are sharing a video that was previously recorded to reflect on the importance of tissue donation, and how three of our patient families feel about the important role it serves in researching pediatric brain tumors. Chase, Fiona, and Elizabeth lost their lives to rare pediatric gliomas, and their moms advocate for post-mortem tissue donation to guide research. The CBTP Lab at Weill Cornell Medicine has since been named a Regional Center of Excellence in the Gift from a Child program, enabling us to coordinate post-mortem tissue donations across the country. Help us Light up the Lab in memory of Chase, Fiona, and Elizabeth by making a donation today.

Chase’s mom also wrote a blog about the donation experience that you can read here.