On September 1, 2015 I began a new journey in my life. September 1, 2015 marks my first official day as the first Executive Director for the Max Cure Foundation. It is no small coincidence that on the same day, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month began. Many of you know the story of my hero, Alexis, who passed away from DIPG (an inoperable brain tumor) at four years old, just two weeks shy of her fifth birthday, in January 2011. Alexis became my inspiration throughout the course of her thirty-three month long fight with this deadly form of childhood cancer. Since that day in January, I have focused a tremendous amount of energy and passion working with a number of organizations in an effort to create effective change for children with cancer. I like to call this my “unfortunate passion” or “beautiful burden.” Before Alexis was diagnosed, I was a pretty happy trial lawyer in Washington, DC defending my clients against all sorts of legal claims. However, sometimes life changes you in such a dramatic fashion that to ignore that calling is to ignore a gift that flows from, of all things, tragedy. Accordingly, I now fully devote my efforts to changing the equation of childhood cancer.
Along this journey, I met Richard Plotkin. A fierce childhood cancer advocate and lawyer himself, we began to work on the issues together and formed a relationship forged out of both of our personal experiences. I joined MCF back in January 2015 after receiving a grant from an amazing family who was aware of my work in the childhood cancer community. This opportunity provided me the chance to become more deeply involved with MCF and to help move its mission along while working with some amazing people and the families served by MCF. It has truly been an amazing experience and I am truly thankful to have been given this chance.
Now that I have the opportunity to take the reigns as the first ever Executive Director, my excitement level has risen to new levels. The whole MCF team has been hard at work in an effort to create a stronger and more effective organization with three missions that lead to the same finish line: changing the equation for children with cancer so that no longer do kids and families have to suffer. MCF has had a tremendous amount of success with many of the programs that are central to our core values and mission. Our Roar Beyond Barriers program has helped many families ease a small amount of the financial burdens associated with caring for a child battling cancer. MCF has been a significant funder of cutting-edge research at the Immune Cell Laboratory at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. And finally, through the fierce and relentless advocacy of Richard, MCF has directly changed the course of legislative policy and the understanding for the plight of children with cancer desperately seeking to obtain experimental drugs for treatment. Truly this is an amazing record of achievement.
Since the founding of MCF as an organization it has made a significant and lasting impact in the childhood cancer community and upon the families we have assisted. That alone is reason to be proud. With that said, I am convinced that we can do more, and do better for those who depend upon us. In the coming weeks and months MCF will enhance some of its programs in an effort to make them more effective and create a larger impact for those we serve. We will launch new campaigns aimed at helping MCF support more families through the Roar Beyond Barriers program, including helping families on an emergency basis as well as equip the children as they head back to school. We will seek to raise additional money to support the critical research that MCF has already funded. We must ensure that the research that we are supporting translate from the lab to the clinic. And finally, we will continue to build upon the solid foundation of advocacy that Richard has created through his tireless efforts. New legislative initiatives, regulatory change and collaborative interactions with the childhood cancer community as a whole have allowed MCF to rise to the forefront of these efforts.
I set about my job as the first Executive Director with tremendous ambition to not only continue the effective platforms and missions that have made MCF successful, but more importantly to grow the footprint and reach of MCF to ensure that we serve more families and those effected by childhood cancer. In this regard, I am accountable to the entire MCF team, our Board of Directors, our donors, and more importantly, every family that comes to us out of desperation as the result of childhood cancer. I need all of your assistance and support though to be able to carry out this mission.
Together, we will Roar for a Cure.
Jonathan Eric Agin, JD