Combining the power of brilliant researchers with passionate community members, Soar Leadership Council is a group of young female professionals in the Twin Cities that strives to uplift emerging scientists on the verge of breakthrough solutions in cancer research. Established in 2017 as a branch of the Children’s Cancer Research Fund (CCRF), Soar began as a way to provide a source of progression for those who are at the same transitional points in their medical careers. “It really is a great community,” CCRF development officer Lauren Brink says. “It is almost therapeutic to be a part of the leadership council and interact with peers in your same profession to come together toward a common goal.”
Consisting of three tiers of focus, CCRF (a nonprofit organization that contributes adequate funding to cancer research, sources education, raises awareness and provides quality-of-life programs to families experiencing cases of childhood cancer) allocates funding to emerging scientists, hard to treat diseases and survivorship. As a part of CCRF, Soar chose to establish an emerging scientist grant program to promote growth in young researchers and aid in the progression of biomedical research. With an ultimate goal of ending childhood cancer, one mother of a pediatric cancer survivor and Soar board member Amanda Sullivan says this isn’t possible until there is more focus on providing updated remedies. “There are long-term effects from treatments, which are oftentimes outdated drugs, but there has not been research to find better solutions,” Sullivan says. “So many of the causes [of cancer and treatment results] are unknown and that is a big reason why we need to direct research dollars there, so that we can create better outcomes for these kids.”
Through hours of research, countless experiments and an array of breakthrough discoveries, scientists across the nation are working to implement changes for the benefit of the next generation. However, it takes a lot of funding to be able to actively practice and produce effective results. Through the support of Soar, scientists are granted anywhere from $50,000–$100,000 for their projects. “We act as a stepping stone for scientists working toward a breakthrough that may not otherwise see the light of day,” CCRF donor development and analytics manager Adri Viswanatha says.
In order to provide such large sums, Soar hosts a variety of social events, volunteering and fundraising opportunities to raise awareness and increase funding. One of which was a collaboration with Wooden Hill Brewery in Edina this past summer to develop a specialized brew for local beverage connoisseurs. “Hops for a Cure,” an apricot wheat IPA, was created by Wooden Hill Brewing, and a portion of the proceeds from the beer sales went to support the emerging scientist initiative.
Though raising money supports the ultimate goal, Viswanatha says the most rewarding aspect of hosting fundraisers is reaching new hearts. “The best part of these events is meeting those we have no prior connection to,” she says. “It shows what is important to someone about our mission.”
BY THE NUMBERS (IN THE U.S.)
- More than 15,000 kids and young adults are diagnosed with cancer each year.
- 38 children die from cancer every week.
- More than 40,000 children go through cancer treatments every year.
- Nearly 2,000 kids under the age of 19 die each year in the United States from cancer.
- Only 4 percent of federal cancer research funding is dedicated to childhood cancer.
Soar Leadership Council soarleadershipcouncil.org
Children’s Cancer Research Fund
7301 Ohms Lane Suite 355, Mpls. 952.893.9355; childrenscancer.org