TAMPA, Fla. — An Orlando-based nonprofit focused on funding ongoing cancer research held a fundraising event in Tampa Thursday evening. Their presentation included information about an innovative new cancer trial in the works, named after a 5-month-old Tampa girl who lost her battle with the disease.

  • Cannonball Kids' cancer Foundation founded in 2014
  • Co-Founder Melissa Wiggins among speakers at event
  • New trial named after Emmi Grace Angel, diagnosed with cancer in 2016

In 2016, Emmi Grace Angel was diagnosed with cancer.

"Sadly her body was given adult chemotherapy that had been watered down for children and as a result she went into multi-organ failure," said Monica Angel, her mother.

Monica turned to a friend, Melissa Wiggins, whose own son, Cannon, had childhood cancer and survived.

Following Cannon's diagnosis, Wiggins started a nonprofit organization called Cannonball Kids cancer Foundation, which funds research for pediatric cancer.

Both Wiggins and Monica Angel spoke to a group in Tampa Thursday to introduce that group to CKc and fund raise.

"Every form of treatment that is available to a child Cannon had, but unfortunately, as a survivor now he deals with life-long effects," Wiggins said. "So the number one goal is let's have more survivors, but let's also change what it looks like and that's what Cannonball Kids Cancer is trying to do."

Cannon's lingering health problems include hearing loss.

New trial reformulates chemotherapy drugs

Monica spoke to the group about one of the research projects CKc is funding, "The Emmi Grace Applesauce" trial, named after her daughter.

It involves reformulating chemotherapy drugs so they can be administered to children in ways that don't involve swallowing large pills.

"This is the first of its kind, completely innovative way of doing this for children who have G-tubes who can't swallow these pills," she explained.

The women presented the group with two sobering facts: 1) cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under 15; and 2) in the last 20 years, only a few cancer medications have been specifically approved for children.

They said that's why Cannonball Kids Cancer focuses so heavily on funding research.

"The ultimate hope is that no other family is told there are no more options for their child," said Monica.