We are going to smash a few walnuts this month …

Our July community outreach partner is the Smashing Walnuts foundation, founded by Ellyn and Mark Miller at the urging of their nine year old daughter, Gabriella. Gabriella wanted to help raise funding and awareness for childhood brain cancers. At 9 years old, Gabriella was diagnosed with DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma), an inoperable brain tumor which is terminal upon diagnosis. Her tumor was the size of a walnut. Wanting to spread awareness and raise money for research, Gabriella quickly became a global advocate for children with cancer, raising nearly $300,000 for children’s cancer charities. To say Gabriella was a powerhouse is an understatement! We never had the opportunity to meet Gabriella in person, but were blessed to hear her speak at CureFest in 2013, which you can watch below. We were amazed by her eloquence, courage and ability to captivate an audience better than most celebrities.

Less than a year after her diagnosis, Gabriella passed away surrounded by family and friends who promised to continue her work. An interview filmed just two weeks before her death led to the creation of a Federal Bill, the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, allocating $126 million for childhood disease research and kick started the Smashing Walnuts mission to focus on research.

Raising money for research in childhood cancers is critical. There is simply not enough funding in this area to bring about change. In fact, in the last 30 years, only THREE drugs have been developed to treat cancer in children exclusively. According to CureSearch, the amount of research dollars spent per patient is 5 times more for adults than for children. An article published on Forbes.com indicated that the funding for childhood cancer clinical trials in 2008 was $26.4 million. By comparison, federal funding for AIDS research at the same time was $254 million while funding for breast cancer topped $584 million.

An article published on Forbes.com indicated that the funding for childhood cancer clinical trials in 2008 was $26.4 million. By comparison, federal funding for AIDS research at the same time was $254 million and funding for breast cancer topped $584 million.

We are not saying that other cancers should not be funded. We just feel that funding for childhood cancers is disproportionate compared to adult cancers. For example, Of the National Cancer Institute’s budget of $4.9 billion, only 4% is allocated toward childhood cancer research. The Salon Khouri team stands beside Smashing Walnuts and many other local, childhood cancer non-profits to firmly state that 4% is not enough for our kids.

Gabriella smashing a walnut to symbolize smashing out DIPG. The walnut was the same size as the inoperable tumor that took her life within just one year of diagnosis.

Gabriella smashing a walnut to symbolize smashing out DIPG. The walnut was the same size as the inoperable tumor that took her life within just one year of diagnosis.

This July, Salon Khouri will donate $1 from every haircut from our Dulles and Fairfax locations to Smashing Walnuts. We know it’s not millions, but we’ve been shown in many amazing ways that little can make big. We pray the money will lead to a cure so that no other parent will have to endure the loss of their child to cancer.