Emily Whitehead Foundation donates $100000 to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – The Daily Collegian Online

Four years ago, Emily Whitehead was battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and undergoing experimental treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Today, she is healthy and three and a half years cancer free.

After Emily Whitehead beat cancer, her family started the Emily Whitehead Foundation in 2015 to raise money to support the experimental research that helped cure her. In its first year, the foundation raised over $125,000. So far, it has donated $100,000 to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Cancer Center.

However, the road to becoming cancer free was not easy for Emily.

Right after her fifth birthday in June 2010, Emily Whitehead was diagnosed with ALL. Her family was initially met with positive news — that she had the most curable form of cancer and that she should make a full recovery after two years of chemotherapy.

However, due to the chemotherapy, she developed infections in both of her legs. Originally doctors thought she may have to get both legs amputated. After doctors saved her legs, she achieved remission but then relapsed. She then transferred from Penn State Hershey Medical Center to CHOP.

“We kept hearing, ‘This almost never happens,’ ” Tom Whitehead, Emily’s father, said.

At CHOP, she began an experimental treatment using her T cells. This made Emily Whitehead the first child ever to be treated with T cells.

On Whitehead’s seventh birthday, she woke up from a 14-day coma. She was then told she was cancer free shortly after. Her battle lasted over two years.

“It was the best call we ever received. It felt like we were waking up from a nightmare,” Tom Whitehead said.

Her family then started the Emily Whitehead Foundation. One of the many supporters is Jon Condo, a long snapper from the Oakland Raiders from Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, who created a golf tournament to benefit the foundation, which raised over $50,000.

The foundation was also supported by 68 runners in the Philadelphia Marathon who raised over $20,000.

The Penn State Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon supported the Whitehead family throughout their battle. All of their medical bills were covered while they were at Penn State Hershey Medical Center and they had the support of students.

“The money was important, but the support we got from the students was even more meaningful,” Kari Whitehead, Emily’s mother, said.

Emily is still just like any other 9-year-old girl.

“I like to do art and hangout with my dolls and my best friends,” Emily Whitehead said.