Strike 3 Foundation

The Strike 3 Foundation heightens awareness, mobilizes support, and raises funding for childhood cancer research.

In the News

Strike 3 Foundation adopts Valentin’s mission

As the bag of chemotherapy medicine dripped slowly into Isaias Valentin’s arm, Craig Breslow sat next to the bed in Yale-New Haven Hospital. Isaias had already been given an Oakland A’s baseball cap and some other cool baseball stuff as mementos of the visit when Breslow suddenly pulled out the big gun.

His 2007 Boston Red Sox World Series ring.

He gave it to Isaias, who held it carefully in his hands. To a young and excited baseball fan, holding a World Series ring is probably the coolest thing in the world. Except for maybe trying it on, that is, which is just what Isaias did.

"When I first visited Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, I met a number of patients, but there was one in particular who was just incredibly vibrant and lively and you could kind of tell that he was a pillar of strength for his family," Breslow, of Trumbull, told in an August interview. "And so we immediately formed a bond."

Isaias had been diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia in November of 2008 when he was just 8 years old. A bone marrow transplant in Boston had seemingly worked wonders in the initial days after the surgery. But Isaias’ cancer came back, stronger than ever.

Just five weeks after the operation, on Sept. 9, 2009, Isaias passed away. He was 9 years old.

But Isaias’ mom knows that her son’s illness was eased on that amazing day when Breslow visited her son in the hospital.

"That certainly made a big impression," Jeneen Valentin said by phone from her home in Wallingford the other day. "He was a big baseball fan and Craig came to visit right after Isaias was diagnosed. He spent a lot of time with Isaias and they made a connection."

Because of Isaias’ heroic fight, Breslow’s Strike 3 Foundation has created the Isaias Valentin Award. Over the next five years, the foundation has pledged to donate $500,000 to the Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant program.

"The donation has definitely been a big boost to get us off the ground," said Dr. Gary Kupfer, the director of the Pediatric Oncology Program at Yale-New Haven Hospital. "The Strike 3 Foundation is dedicated to helping us fund the program."

When Isaias was first diagnosed with AML, the chemo treatments initially put his cancer into remission, but not too long afterward, complications arose. Isaias had to have brain surgery and then needed a bone marrow transplant at the Dana Farber Hospital in Boston, because there weren’t any hospitals in Connecticut that did bone marrow transplants.

And at first, everything looked good.

"He went through the surgery with flying colors," Jeneen Valentin said.

"It was almost miraculous. I kept thinking, ‘OK, we’ve got this beat. ‘But Isaias’ leukemia was just too aggressive."

And sadly, while losing a son, Jeneen has gained a voice.

"Before Isaias’ illness, I didn’t know very much at all about childhood cancer. This has taught me a lot," she said. "Last year at the gala (the Strike 3 Foundation’s third annual charity gala took place Saturday night at the Stamford Hilton), I gave a speech and I’m going to give another one. If I can help any other kids by telling Isaias’ story, I want to tell it. I love being his voice."

In the three years of its existence, the foundation has raised over $220,000 to help heighten awareness and raise money for pediatric cancer research.

And created the Isaias Valentin award.

"We honored him at our fund-raiser last year and named an award for strength and courage in his honor and presented it to his mother," Breslow told "Now, every year, we plan on awarding someone who’s shown strength and courage throughout these tragedies. And we’re hoping that it’s someone who’s beaten cancer or touched other people in some way."

Breslow created the Strike 3 Foundation in the wake of his own personal meeting with cancer. His sister, Lesley, was diagnosed with pediatric thyroid cancer when she was 14 (Craig was 12), and thankfully, she survived and has been cancer-free for the last 17 years.

And as the Strike 3 Foundation continues to raise money for the Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital Bone Marrow Transplant center, Dr. Kupfer can continue to strive to make cancer — all forms of cancer — more treatable.

"The Bone Marrow Center is just one feature of our facility here," he said. "This will help us in our quest of becoming a world-class hospital. It’s clearly a hallmark of any hospital to be considered world-class. I came here three years ago to build this (pediatric cancer) program and the Strike 3 Foundation is helping to do that."

By Chris Elsberry

November 14, 2010 · Reprinted from The Connecticut Post © 2010

Mission Statement

The Strike 3 Foundation heightens awareness, mobilizes support, and raises funding for childhood cancer research.

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Strike 3 Foundation
PO Box 191
Monroe, CT 06468

(203) 502-0007

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