Meet Margaret Beltran, the founder of Strong for Dom.
Share a bit about yourself.
My husband, Harvey and I both grew up in Stafford County. I am a registered nurse in the NICU at Mary Washington Hospital. And Harvey is pursuing a degree in Radiation Therapy. We have three boys, Dominic, Roman and Preston.
Why did you create Strong For Dom Foundation?
At 17months old, Dominic was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer. After fighting this disease for five years, we were told there were no more treatment options. Dominic passed away February 7th, 2013. He was just six years old.
The organization was created in his memory to spread awareness and raise funds for childhood cancer research.
How large is the organization?
Our board is made up of 8 volunteers.
Why is awareness for childhood cancer important?
Childhood cancer is important because it is the #1 cause of death by disease in children and adolescents in the U.S. The incidence of childhood cancer is on the rise. On average, 43 children per day or 15,780 children per year are diagnosed with cancer. Despite these startling facts, childhood cancer receives very little funding from the federal government. Less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) budget goes to fund childhood cancer research. Since 1980, only three new drugs have been approved to treat childhood cancer. Many of the survivors will suffer long term side effects of either the cancer or more commonly, the result of its treatment.
No parent wants to be told that there is nothing else that can be done for their child. We lost our son because we had no more treatment options. Through our journey we met some brilliant doctors. We believe the knowledge is there, but the funding is not.
Do you work with any hospitals? If so, how?
Strong For Dom Foundation funds innovative childhood cancer research to develop less toxic therapies. We are currently funding two clinical trials at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. We also do an annual toy drive and give to the Pediatric Oncology Clinic at VCU Hospital.
What has been the response of the community regarding the project?
Family, friends, neighbors and those that knew Dominic are our largest followers. They have donated their time and made contributions to our cause. Southpoint Quality Dental has also been a huge supporter for us as a sponsor, donor and helping us raise awareness.
We are still working on getting our name and mission known to the community. Our biggest obstacle is trying to explain that while we don't fund any clinical trials here locally (because there aren't any), the children with cancer in our community will benefit from the research.
How many families have you helped?
The research that we fund will help countless families in the future.
This year we launched our Super Fun Day program to provide treasured family time to children with cancer in the Fredericksburg region. We were able to give two families a Super Fun Day with season passes to amusement parks for the whole family!
Tell us how volunteers can get involved.
We are happy to have volunteers help us with our fundraising and awareness events. Or host their own!!!
How can local businesses get involved today?
There are sponsorship opportunities for our fundraising events, specifically our Super Hero Dash, a family-friendly fun run we host in the spring. September is a big month for our organization. We are always looking for business partners in the community to help raise awareness for childhood cancer.
Where do you see the project in the next 5 years? 10 years?
In the next 5-10 years, my hope is that our organization wouldn't be needed anymore because there would be a cure for childhood cancer.