Peach Bowl LegACy Fund Celebrates Successful First Year

Staff Report

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

In its first year of operation, the Peach Bowl LegACy Fund provided $4 million to fund five new clinical drug trials in the fight against childhood cancer.

A successful initial year followed Peach Bowl, Inc.’s announcement one year ago today to make a historic $20 million donation to the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The Peach Bowl LegACy Fund is hyper-focused on funding clinical trials for the most promising new drugs and treatment options for children fighting cancer. 

“The goal of the first phase was to identify, fully evaluate and fund five of the most promising new efforts to fight this horrific disease, and today we are excited to announce that we have reached that goal,” said Gary Stokan, CEO and president of Peach Bowl, Inc. “These five incredible doctors are the quarterbacks in this fight and our job is to give them the tools they need to win.” 

The overall goal of the Peach Bowl LegACy Fund is to ensure that high-priority novel agents, devices and treatment strategies can be tested in patients at an accelerated pace, eventually leading to additional treatment options for patients. It is unique in that funds are earmarked specifically for research and clinical trials to develop more effective and less toxic treatments for pediatric patients. The result is a targeted program where the greatest need will be targeted and met with funds that can make a difference, changing how we fight cancer in the future. 

As a testament to its first-year success, in May ESPN named the Peach Bowl LegACy Fund a finalist for its Corporate Community Impact Award, a category in the annual Sports Humanitarian Awards. The finalist designation recognized the Peach Bowl LegACy Fund with a $25,000 donation for its efforts in the fight against childhood cancer. 

“I know I speak for all of the doctors selected in this first year of funding in expressing our gratitude for this transformational investment in the fight against childhood cancer,” said Dr. Douglas Graham, chief of the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “The Peach Bowl LegACy Fund is significant by enabling us to improve our treatment plans for our patients and providing new hope when our patients need it most.”

The five drug trials selected for Peach Bowl LegACy Fund support in the program’s first year include: 

  • Recurrent Brain Tumor Trial – Dr. Tobey Macdonald

Phase I study of a promising new less toxic drug for children and young adults aged 3-25 years with recurrent and progressive malignant brain tumors. The first patient in the study was enrolled in May 2020. 

  • Recurrent Leukemia Trial – Dr. Kirsten Williams

An innovative approach to treat Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) which doesn’t respond to chemotherapy. This innovative drug will attempt to harness the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. The trial will enroll up to 24 patients and is preparing to begin in fall 2020.

  • Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) Trial – Dr. Melinda Pauly

This groundbreaking trial will target specific gene proteins with the goal of preventing leukemia cells from growing and inhibiting gene mutations that make the cancer cells more aggressive. The first in-human study of this developmental drug is nearing completion. Early results show a high tolerance in patients with no adverse events as well as defining an appropriate dose that has been shown to kill cancer cells. The trial is expected to enroll approximately 50 patients.

  • High Risk Solid Tumor Trial – Dr. Kathryn Sutton

The new trial will attempt to improve the cure rate of patients with high-risk solid tumors by treating them with an additional year of maintenance chemotherapy after completion of standard therapy. This combination treatment is known to eliminate tumor cells and decrease the ability of tumors to build new blood supplies needed for growth. The trial has begun and will enroll 38 patients. 

  • Neuroblastoma Trial – Dr. Kelly Goldsmith

This unique trial will test the safety and effectiveness of a treatment that combines a special form of T-cells with established chemotherapy and an additional antibody regimen to produce a potent cellular therapy for Neuroblastoma. The trial is moving through FDA approvals and will enroll up to 24 patients. 

Inspired by Anna Charles

Anna Charles Hollis, the six-year-old daughter of Benji Hollis, the Peach Bowl’s vice president of sales, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) on April 15, 2018. After a five-month fight, Anna Charles succumbed to the disease and passed away on September 16, 2018.

Anna Charles’ fight against AML was the inspiration for the focus of the Peach Bowl LegACy Fund, which was named in her honor. The Peach Bowl LegACy Fund will carry on her fight. 

Future Funding 

Peach Bowl, Inc. is committed to the long-term support of the Peach Bowl LegACy Fund. Since its inception last year, the Bowl has donated an additional $1,186,539 for a total investment of $21,186,539. Programs have been put into place that will guarantee regular additional gifts to the Fund to provide the biggest possible benefit for the clinical trials in the program.