It’s “War on Childhood Cancer” at the sixth annual North Alabama Eye Care Superhero Day for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
The event, hosted by Eli’s Block Party Childhood Cancer Foundation, is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, in Big Spring Memorial Park, 100 N. Beaty St., Athens.
The day kicks off with the parade of heroes, bringing almost 40 superheroes to the park. The supers are joined by "community heroes," including police officers, firefighters, nurses, military veterans and local teachers. Childhood cancer patients and survivors ride as guests of honor with their favorite superhero.
Businesses and organizations host kids activity booths at the event, which also features raffles, contests, vendors and food trucks. DJ Dave in the Bat Cave keeps the music and entertainment running throughout the day with challenges, trivia and a street dance featuring “Git Up” by Blanco Brown at 1 p.m. and a kids costume walk at 2 p.m. Eli’s Block Party depends on donations and sponsorships to maintain free admission.
“We are excited and humbled by the support our community shows for childhood cancer and for this event,” said Kristie Williams, director of Eli’s Block Party. “Superhero Day has just exploded over the last five years. The family-fun atmosphere is inviting and the businesses and organizations that participate are engaging. This creates a wonderful landscape on which to spread childhood cancer awareness.”
September is recognized nationally as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The National Cancer Institute reports 43 kids are diagnosed with cancer each day and six kids die from the disease daily. Although there have been great strides made in treatment, there continues to be an increase in the number of cases reported each year, according to the NCI.
As an all-volunteer organization, Eli’s Block Party hosts car shows and Superhero Day to raise money. This year, the organization is raising money for Dr. Greg Friedman at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham. Dr. Friedman's overarching goal is to improve outcomes for children with malignant brain tumors by developing and improving novel, targeted therapies in the lab and then translating these therapies to clinical trials.
Currently, Friedman is the principal investigator for the first-ever pediatric trial of HSV G207 in children with recurrent or progressive brain cancers. For this trial, the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which typically causes cold sores, has been engineered to be safe for normal cells but infect and kill cancer cells and stimulate the patient’s immune system to attack the tumor, providing a one-two punch at killing tumor cells.