As word of its mission spreads throughout the community, the Los Altos-based Sunbeam Foundation recently received a sizable donation in its ongoing efforts to fund research for cures for rare childhood bone cancers.
Sereno Group Real Estate in Los Altos Friday presented Sunbeam representatives with a check for $10,000. Sereno employees donated 1 percent of their gross commissions from one fiscal quarter to the foundation as part of their “1% for Good” program.
“Our 1% program is a huge reason why I am proud to affirm my association with Sereno Group,” said Sereno realtor Pat Looney. “Sunbeam has been my charity of choice for over a decade, and I was thrilled that the agents in Sereno Group Los Altos selected it as one of our quarterly philanthropies.”
Los Altos native Brad Wolfe leads the 9-year-old foundation, formed in honor of his friend Sara LaBoskey. LaBoskey, a Los Altos resident, suffered from a deadly form of Ewing’s sarcoma and died in July 2002 at 21.
To lift LaBoskey’s spirits during her hospital stays, Wolfe wrote a song, “Sara’s Got A Sunbeam.” The song became the theme of the foundation Wolfe and La- Boskey family members founded in 2005. Wolfe and LaBoskey’s younger brother Jeff serve as co-presidents, and LaBoskey’s mother, Vicki, is a member of the Sunbeam board.
Wolfe estimated that the foundation has raised more than $500,000 over the years to support a host of researchers developing promising approaches to treating and curing childhood cancers.
“We’ve seen tremendous progress,” he said. “To date, we’ve awarded 13 grants, usually two per year ranging between $20,000 to $50,000. Eleven are seed grants to researchers all across the country at top-flight institutions.”
Wolfe added that the foundation also awarded two scholar grants to early-career scientists, “helping them make the otherwise challenging leap to full careers as researchers focused on developing novel treatments for rare and underfunded pediatric bone cancers.”
A team of medical experts and scientists evaluates the Sunbeam Foundation’s grant proposals, which are then awarded to those most likely to lead to medical breakthroughs with the promise of additional funding from the National Institutes of Health.
“We’ve also been directly responsible for helping spark breakthrough research at Stanford,” Wolfe said.
The foundation has funded researchers in the lab of Alejandro Sweet Cordero for more than five years – and it’s paying off.
“As our longest-tenured grant recipient, Sweet Cordero and his labmates have made historic progress on a mouse model for these rare tumors,” Wolfe said.
The Sunbeam Foundation’s fundraising has been so successful, Wolfe said, that the foundation is able to award an additional grant this year, bringing its total to 16 by year’s end.
One of Sunbeam’s more high-profile fundraising events is the annual “Los Altos Cooks for a Cure,” which involves the participation of downtown restaurants. The festivities include wine tasting, hors d’oeuvres, entertainment, a cooking demonstration, dessert and a silent auction. This year’s event, the sixth annual, is scheduled Sept. 14.
“We are looking to bring some creative flair to the event this year, as we are adding Helix, Los Altos’ Exploratorium offshoot, to our list of interesting host venues,” Wolfe said.
Also in the mix are plans for a new program, “Ice Cream Week: Freezing Out Cancer.”
“Sunbeam’s mission is both to find cures and to spread hope, though to date we’ve focused mostly on the former,” Wolfe noted. “We’re now looking to spread hope to patients by hosting ice cream parties at local children’s hospitals.”
To raise funds for the initiative, Wolfe said, the group is gathering support from Bay Area ice cream shops to participate in a week that celebrates “our amazing local ice cream and challenges ice cream lovers young and old to visit as many ice cream shops as possible over the course of a week.”
For more information, visit sunbeamfoundation.org.
‘1% for Good’ makes local impact
Sereno Group Real Estate has pledged to donate 1 percent of gross commissions to a charitable or community-minded group that makes a positive local impact. Realtors select a different group to receive a donation from the “1% for Good” program each quarter.
To date, the Los Altos office has donated $47,623.80 to community causes, including Paralyzed Veterans of America, $7,209.73; Partners for New Generations, $19,668.91; the Los Altos Senior Center, $10,372.58; and the Sunbeam Foundation, $10,372.58.