The Pray~Hope~Believe Foundation (PHBF) was established by Lynne and Rick Merk to honor the memory of Tony Merk – a 6-year-old boy who died on July 4, 2011 after an almost three-year battle with brain cancer. The PHBF provides funding for pediatric brain tumor research, supports children/teens who have a life-threatening condition, and honors the memory of Tony Merk through scholarships. We also hope to increase awareness of pediatric brain cancers in order to find more effective treatments with fewer significant long-term side effects. PHBF primarily supports research conducted at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. We aim to support innovative research projects with an emphasis not only upon ridding the body of cancer, but also minimizing the long-term, serious side effects of treatment. “Pray~Hope~Believe” became the theme for Tony’s journey on earth and is now his family’s theme for living and healing.
We have chosen to focus our efforts upon pediatric brain tumors because brain tumors are the deadliest type of cancer in children. Some types of brain tumors have survival rates lower than 20 percent. Each year, there are 4,200 more diagnoses of brain tumors in children; 72% of these children are younger than 15. Diagnosing and treating brain tumors is extremely difficult because there are 130 different types of brain tumors. Brain tumors in children are different than brain tumors in adults so specific research into pediatric brain tumors is needed. While survival rates for children with brain tumors have improved greatly in the past 30 years, most survivors experience lifelong side effects from treatment including physical, learning and emotional difficulties. (SOURCE: Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation; www.pbtf.org) The ultimate goal of PHBF is to prevent other families from facing the difficult, unwanted journey of loss Tony’s family is facing.