At first glance, an iconic Southern rock band and a sweet little girl with big hazel eyes would seem to have nothing in common. But a deeper look reveals two families, each with little girls stricken by cancer, who share a resolve to make a difference in the fight against childhood cancer.
In 2009, at the age of three, Lana Turner was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Lana’s dad, Brit, is the drummer of the popular rock band Blackberry Smoke. Thankfully, Lana got through treatment and, at 13, is doing great today. But Brit and the band wanted to ensure all children with cancer have a chance to grow up and live life like Lana is doing, so they started donating money raised through meet and greet packages to childhood cancer organizations.
“As a band, we have always tried to lend a hand anytime we were able,” Brit said. “But it wasn’t until Lana was diagnosed that I felt it from the other side. This was the first time I felt like I was completely helpless.”
In 2019, Blackberry Smoke worked with CURE to create a “Named Fund” called the Blackberry Smoke Fund. The goal is to focus the funds the band raises through the meet and greet packages and the annual Blackberry Smoke Ride for CURE for greatest impact. They felt they could do this best by working hand in hand with CURE.
As Blackberry Smoke was hosting meet and greets to raise money for research, another family across town was dealt a devasting blow. Another little girl, six-year-old Anna Charles (or “AC”) was recovering from a tonsillectomy. To her family’s shock, a blood test revealed she had leukemia.
Three days after her diagnosis, a mass of AML cells was discovered on her spine. She had emergency surgery to remove the mass, but it left her spine in shock – causing her to become paralyzed from her lower chest down. After four rounds of chemo, Anna Charles relapsed and began preparing for radiation and a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, her body began to shut down before the transplant could be scheduled. On September 16, 2018, Anna Charles passed away. Devastated by the loss of their beautiful little girl, AC’s family felt compelled to help other children facing the brutal disease.
“We have hope that one day there will be a cure for childhood cancer,” shared AC’s father, Benji. “Until that day comes, we are going to make sure that we do everything in our power to help find better treatments for all of our kids who are battling cancer. They are all ours!”
AC’s family created the Anna Charles Hollis Fund at CURE to provide advance clinical research relating to acute myeloid leukemia.
“CURE’s Named Funds are a great way for families to create a legacy for their child or otherwise honor the journey they have endured,” explains CURE’s Executive Director, Kristin Connor. They allow us, as a childhood cancer community, to work together for greatest impact while honoring the children who fight this fight.”
If you’d like to learn about honoring a Childhood Cancer Hero through a Named Funds, please visit curechildhoodcancer.org/about-cure/named-funds/ or fill out the form below and we will be in touch.