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Fifth District AHEPA Cancer Research Foundation Reaches $1.23M in Grants

November 9, 2021
By Antoinette Marousis-Zachariades

EDISON, NJ – The COVID pandemic has not stopped the Fifth District AHEPA Cancer Research Foundation on their journey of raising funds for cancer research grants. Last year, the Foundation held a virtual Gala with $30,000 awarded in cancer research grants. This year, on November 6, the once again in-person gala awarded $30,000. The Gala is a celebration in honor of the cancer research doctors that the Foundation supports.

Each year, the Foundation presents Research Grant Awards to the three cancer institutions they support in the Tri-State area. Over the past 32 years, the Foundation has awarded 103 cancer research grants to various institutions for cancer research in the states of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware in the amount of $1,230,000.

The Foundation is the only cancer research foundation in the entire AHEPA Family domain and is also one of the few Hellenic Cancer Research Foundations of its kind, providing grants in the field of cancer research. The uniqueness of these grants is that 100% of the monetary award goes towards the sole purpose of cancer research and not administration costs.

National Officers of the AHEPA Family, left to right: AHEPA Supreme Governor Region 3 Vassos Chrysanthou, DOP Grand Governor Zone I Antoinette Marousis-Zachariades, DOP Grand Vice President Georgette Boulegeris, AHEPA Supreme President Jimmy Kokotas, AHEPA Supreme Secretary Savvas Tsivikos, and Maids of Athena Grand President Maria Ana Pantelous. Photo: Steve Lambrou

The Foundation’s fundraising efforts began with a single canister collection can. Since that time, the grass roots efforts of the Fifth District AHEPA Cancer Research Foundation have grown tremendously.

Foundation Vice Chairman Thomas Sulich said, “this has been a challenging year due to COVID, however the Foundation was able to continue its mission to support these great research programs.”

The Foundation is extremely honored to be working with top notch cancer research institutions and doctors who are amongst the best in their field. This year’s grant awardees are:

Edna Cukierman, PhD, at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA, received a $10,000 cancer research grant for her study entitled “Meaningful Connections PART-D:  A Prototype Approach Aimed to Ascertain that Pro-Tumor Connections, Detected in Non-Cancerous Cells, Can be Monitored in Plasma of Pancreatic Cancer Patients.”

Dr. Cukierman said: “Pancreatic cancer is the third deadliest cancer, survivorship over the past ten years has doubled due to research providing new protocols to combat this cancer.”

She noted that with this grant money her lab will try to identify the markers that cause this disease, adding that she is very appreciative of the grant from the Foundation.

Fifth District AHEPA Cancer Research Foundation Board of Directors and National Officers of the AHEPA Family, left to right: AHEPA Supreme Governor Region 3 Vassos Chrysanthou, DOP GVP Georgette Boulegeris, DOP GGZI Antoinette Marousis-Zachariades, AHEPA PSP Andrew C. Zachariades, AHEPA PDG Ted Vittas, Foundation Corr. Secretary Viveca Sulich, DOP PGP Demi Thomas, AHEPA PDG Sammy Thomas, Foundation Vice Chairman Tom Sulich, Foundation Member Cosmas Diamanitis, Foundation Rec. Secretary Valerie Vittas, AHEPA PDG George Pappas, DOP DG Dina Fanikos, and AHEPA PSP George G. Horiates. Photo: Steve Lambrou

Dr. David C. Lyden of Weill Medical College of Cornell University/Children’s Blood Foundation, New York, NY received a $10,000 cancer research grant for his study entitled “Exercise promotes normal exosome production and prevents cancer metastasis.”

Dr. Lyden said that through his lab’s study they are finding that cancer patients who exercise regularly have less metastasis of their cancer. His study is concentrating on breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and multiple types of children’s cancers. Further, he stated that “immunity receptors release good exosomes which help prevent the metastasis of the cancer.”

Dr. Lyden is grateful for the many years of support from the Foundation. Further, he is the Stavros S. Niarchos Professor in Pediatric Cardiology and a scientist in the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center and the Gale and Ira Drukier Institute for Children’s Health at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Dr. Shridar Ganesan of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick, NJ received a $10,000 cancer research grant for his continuing study entitled “Finding new treatments for resistant triple negative breast cancer.” Dr. Ganesen said: “We are concentrating on how chemotherapy protocols work for individual patients; this past year has been challenging but we are very appreciative of the Foundation’s support.”

The Foundation was honored to have representation from the Supreme and Grand lodge of the AHEPA Family.

Left to right: DOP GVP Georgette Boulegeris, DOP Xanthus #149 Athena Rochonchou, DOP PGP Demi Thomas, DOP PGP Evellyn Tsiadis, Foundation Member Valerie Vittas, DOP Tethys #229 Member Antoinette Finley, and PDG & DOP Xanthus #149 Member Anamaria Anagnostou. Photo: Steve Lambrou

Past Foundation Chairman and Daughters of Penelope Grand Vice President Georgette Boulegeris shared her personal journey with breast cancer. “I was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago and they did a test on me called the oncotype test, the seed money for this test was given by this Foundation,” she said.

For now, she considers herself surviving cancer, until her oncologist says she does not want to see her anymore.

AHEPA Supreme President Jimmy Kokotas is no stranger to cancer. His father recently passed away from cancer. Kokotas said, “I want to thank the doctors for their tireless efforts for the work they do in making a difference with their cancer research.”

He congratulated the leadership of the Foundation, its members and all the people who helped the Foundation get to where it is today.

More information is available online: www.5thdistrictahepa-crf.org, and follow on Facebook.

The Foundation was formed in October 1988, by the Fifth District Order of AHEPA to raise funds from its members and the general public for cancer research grants.  Shortly, thereafter the Fifth District Daughters of Penelope came on board uniting the AHEPA Family of District 5 behind a common cause of philanthropic support for cancer research.

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