In a photo her father says is "pure Paige," a young Paige Yeomans Arnold sits with her cat. Paige lost her battle with leukemia in 1994 at the age of 8; Paige's Butterfly Run was started to raise money for pediatric cancer research in her memory.
continued But research for all kinds of childhood cancers only gets about 4 percent of the federal funding allocated to cancer research. Pharmaceutical companies provide about 60 percent of the funding for drug development in adult cancers, but almost none for childhood cancers. Why? There’s no profit in it.
“Pediatric oncology is not a sexy, hot growth area for research for therapies,” Arnold said. “Any child sick with cancer is too many, but in terms of where pharmaceutical companies are looking for places to invest in to get a return, the volume isn’t there. It’s in breast cancer and other kinds of cancers. Other cancers are more prevalent, so that’s where the return is. Pediatric oncology doesn’t get that attention. So there’s continuously a need for pediatric oncology research towards a cure.”
Running for a cure
The Yeomans-Arnold family has made it their mission to make sure other families don’t have to go through what they did. In 1997, in conjunction with Palmer Elementary, they started a walk/run in Paige’s honor.
“A couple of the teachers and the principal of the school approached us and asked if it would be okay if they did something to memorialize her,” Arnold said. “We were more than happy to say yes. One of the teachers was a runner, so they said they’d just do a walk.”
The first walk, which took just a few weeks to pull together, brought together 225 people who raised about $2,200. Arnold said the family donated it to Paige’s oncologist at Upstate Medical University and asked that it be used in her memory.
From there, the event continued to grow. Paige’s Butterfly Run, so named for the girl’s love of butterflies, continued at Palmer until 2007, when the nonprofit the Yeomans-Arnold family had started to support the run was offered a chance to move to a new location.