As with any new revolutionary medical treatment or device, someone has to be the first patient. Such was the case with 7 year old Emily Whitehead. Emily and her parents, Kari and Tom Whitehead live just 25 miles from Blue Mountain’s State College, PA office, in Philipsburg, PA. Emily was in the midst of a losing battle with chemotherapy resistant acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Because her leukemia was not responding to chemotherapy, her parents were told she had weeks to live, at the very most they might have a few months with her.
Emily’s only chance for survival was to undergo clinical trial treatment that had never been done before with a pediatric patient, T cell therapy. Emily and her parents had no choice but to agree to this revolutionary experimental treatment which was administered by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and in 2012, again, at age 7. Amazingly, not only did Emily’s leukemia go into remission within weeks, but Emily has been cancer free in the three years since without additional treatment. When Emily went home to Philipsburg, PA after her treatment, a thousand local citizens stood in the rain to welcome her home. Emily is now an active 10 year old doing whatever normal healthy 10 year olds do. It would be impossible to pick her out from her other healthy 5th grade classmates.
Since her successful treatment the Whitehead family has been engulfed in a whirlwind of activity, including meeting President Barak Obama. They have established and dedicated themselves to the Emily Whitehead Foundation. The purpose of the foundation is to raise money to fund researchers in finding a cure for pediatric cancer. As the foundation grows it also hopes to provide financial assistance to families while their child is in treatment.
Jim Erickson, Blue Mountain Owner and President, believes in everything the Foundation is doing and hopes to do. As a result Blue Mountain has started an employee fund raiser, where Blue Mountain will provide matching dollars to the employee’s contribution. Jim also will donate an amount for each customer attendee who registers for the upcoming Blue Mountain Summit. Right now the plan is to present the donations to the Whitehead family at the Summit.
No doubt the fact that Emily and her parents live locally provides extra incentive to get behind the work of the foundation, but Blue Mountain also sees the importance of contributing to the effort of finding a cure for childhood cancer, a truly humanitarian cause and one which Blue Mountain employees are supporting.