Swim Across America Establishes ‘Stacey Leondis Fellowship’

 The SAA Nassau Suffolk Committee has established the ‘Swim Across America- Stacey Leondis Fellowship ‘ at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Bronx, N.Y. for research into the development of a targeted therapy for osteosarcoma, an adolescent bone cancer. Stacey Rose Leondis, a GCHS ‘03 graduate, passed away July 21, 2008.

 SAA has been funding this research, which is supervised by Dr. Richard Gorlick at Children’s Hospital, since 2006. The data developed in Dr. Gorlick’s Lab has defined, for the first time, a targeted therapy—antibodies directed at the insulin-like growth factor receptor—as being potentially efficacious in the treatment of osteosarcoma. This information has been used to guide treatment of patients in clinical trials for osteosarcoma with promising results already obtained. A Phase III National Clinical Trial is expected to commence in the next year based on data developed by Dr. Gorlick’s Lab.

 Gerry Oakes, a Garden City resident and V.P. of Swim Across America, Inc.  said that “ SAA invested in this research along side Garden City’s ‘FOSTER Foundation (Fighting Osteo Sarcoma Through Everyday Research)’ three years ago, inspired by Stacey. SAA will continue to support this critical research and we formally want to recognize Stacey’s role in establishing the FOSTER Foundation and inviting SAA to assist in funding the most promising research focused on a cure for osteosarcoma”.

 Born February 11, 1985, Stacey was a bright and energetic young girl who began playing the harp at age 5. Beyond her many accomplishments, her family and friends knew her as being fun, intelligent and compassionate with everyone she met. Influenced by her experiences with cancer, she planned to become a doctor so she could help others. Always humble and gracious, she was an inspiration to all who knew her.  Her success in the classroom led her to Yale University where she majored in Biology and was able to complete her credits and graduate in 2008, in spite of having to take time off to face a second bout of osteosarcoma as well as a bone-marrow transplant necessitated by leukemia. She was accepted to Mount Sinai School of Medicine for the class of 2012.

 Stacey’s battle with cancer began at the tender age of 16 when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her knee. This diagnoses only served to fuel Stacey’s natural philanthropic spirit and she quickly founded the FOSTER Foundation. Stacey’s initiative has and will continue to enable the Foundation to fund several research grants each year. Despite her struggle with this disease which required difficult treatments, Stacey maintained her vibrant and giving spirit. She was only twenty three years old and yet touched so many people in her short life.  She leaves behind a tremendous legacy of selfless service to others making the SAA fellowship in her name entirely fitting.




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