Family honors daughter with fundraiser for under-funded brain tumor research

Brain tumors are the leading cause of cancer related deaths in children and young adults. Yet the funding and research to fight brain tumors  falls far behind other types of cancer.

This story began with a promise. A promise to their only child, that they would do everything they could to ensure others wouldn't lose a loved one to a brain tumor.  Olivia was just months away from graduating, when she went into her doctor, complaining of headaches. Her doctor ordered an MRI which showed a massive and aggressive brain tumor.

Given only months to live, Olivia’s parents did the only thing they could and promised they'd find a cure. Meg and Dan Kresach created  Brain Up,  a foundation to support others with brain tumors and their families. Last year they held their first fundraising walk and hundreds turned out on Chicago’s lakefront. Their goal was to not just raise money, but raise funds that would serve those here locally.

Chicagoan Tracy Bramlett will be out there on the lakefront for Brain Up's second walk this Sunday. Like Olivia, learning she had an aggressive brain tumor was devastating. Doctors told her they needed to operate that week.

After brain surgery and several  rounds of chemo and radiation, Tracy’s tumor is stable and not growing, but also not eradicated.

And that's the problem.  Almost all brain tumors come back.

Making the Kresach’s mission even more vital.  The money they raise allow patients like Tracey to get innovative treatments and clinical trials right here in Chicago, without having to leave the state and her family behind.

The money Brain Up raised from last year's walk will  fund a new clinical trial at four Chicago university hospitals in 2018. This year they are expecting roughly 800 walkers, comprised of friends and family of those with brain tumors and  the oncologists and  neurosurgeons that treat them.

All of them are brought together by a common cause and a quiet promise made by two grieving parents. "It's hard to take your emotions out of it. Nor do we want to. It's what gets us up every day."

Each year approximately 79,000 people are diagnosed with some type of brain tumor. If you want to join their walk this Sunday it steps off at Soldier Field at 8 a.m. WGN’s own Jackie Bange is hosting this year's event and will be out there to support the cause.

For more information, head to brainup.ngo.