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A little girl’s legacy: Edenfield family’s $150K donation creates new ACH fund

Family’s $150K donation creates new ACH fund

A close-knit trio were Emilea, Melina and Klara Edenfield. After Melina lost her battle with a brain tumor, the two remaining sisters felt a void in their lives. Submitted photo

CANFIELD — Melina Michelle Edenfield was an energetic 4-year-old Canfield girl who on May 22, 2020, was diagnosed with a deadly brain tumor.

Her fight with diffuse midline glioma ended just 32 days later.

While her battle was brief, her family wanted to make sure it wasn’t in vain, so the Melina Michelle Edenfield Foundation was established. It recently made a gift of $150,000 to Akron Children’s Hospital to establish the Melina Michelle Edenfield Foundation Fund.

Parents Michelle and Keith Edenfield hope this money will have a direct and lasting impact on families. The fund will provide financial support for research into pediatric brain tumors in the Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders.

“It was important to us to keep the money local — Dr. Wright, our pediatric oncologist, fought for our child. We wanted her to know that we will support her forever, since helping families like ours is her passion,” Michelle said.

Dr. Erin Wright is a pediatric neuro-oncologist and director for the Shannon E. Wilkes Targeting Therapy Program. She and Dr. Gwyneth Hughes, a pediatric neurosurgeon, treated Melina.

“I pray I never have to make a referral to Dr. Wright or Dr. Hughes. But they are fantastic. In fact, that is an understatement. Anything you could want in a doctor, they have,” said Keith.

Not only do the Edenfields say they hope their story and support will speed breakthroughs in the treatment of pediatric cancer, they also hope it draws attention to the lack of funding for pediatric tumor research. They said less than 4 percent of the National Institutes of Health budget is directed toward childhood cancer research, and a fraction of that is for pediatric brain tumor research. In fact, in the last 25 years, only two new treatments for brain tumors have been approved.

“During this whole time, the only thing I ever wanted was answers to why this is happening,” Michelle said.

The Edenfields hope that by funding research they can help provide answers to other families who are going through this type of situation.

“We want people to understand the impact this money will make,” Michelle said. “Honestly, there just isn’t a lot of financial support for this cause, so every penny counts.”

Melina’s tumor was the same type that killed the daughter of Ohio native and astronaut Neil Armstrong. “Melina received the exact same treatment his daughter received,” Keith said. “Treatments for this haven’t changed in 50 years.”

By funding research at Akron Children’s Hospital, the Edenfields are hoping to change that.

“We want to help people who feel helpless and provide them with a voice. For hundreds of families who suffer from pediatric brain tumors, their only hope begins with the research that is happening because of funds like this and in places like Akron Children’s,” Michelle said.

If you want more information, or would like to make a donation, find the Melina Michelle Edenfield Foundation on Facebook or the website http://www.mmefoundationjoy.org.

news@tribtoday.com

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