COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - More than 40 teams of 10-12 people are set to face off with a Superman-like strength to try and pull a 35,000-pound fire truck on Saturday.
Their efforts are to honor other superheroes, the children who battle childhood cancer every day. The proceeds will benefit Curing Kids Cancer, co-founded by a mom and dad that lost their own superhero to cancer back in 2003.
Their goal: to not lose one more child to cancer.
"I know that feeling and that's why we have such a sense of urgency about raising the money because I know what's happening every day," Grainne Owen, co-founder of Curing Kids Cancer said. "I know how it feels," she added as she fought back tears.
That's because, in 2003, the Owens family lost their 9-year-old son, Killian, to Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) while they lived in the Atlanta area. He fought the disease for 4 years.
"I found out about a brand new treatment and I asked why it wasn't available," Grainne said as she recalled Killian's fight. "And I asked why Killian couldn't have it, and they said you have to get special permission from the FDA."
With the help of doctors, Grainne got that permission but it wouldn't be enough.
"Killian was the first child in the world to try this new treatment," Grainne said. "Unfortunately, because he was the first child in the world to try it, the FDA limited amount of the treatment that he could have. He would've needed twice the dose in order for it to be effective."
But losing Killian was enough for this mom to start a fight for other families.
"I thought, 'I can do this, I can stop this from happening,'" Grainne said. "There are other drugs out there that other children need, so in 2005 we created Curing Kids Cancer and since then we have raised almost $12 million."
That money has helped to fund the research for the groundbreaking Car-T cell therapy treatment approved by the FDA just last August to fight ALL- the same kind of cancer Killian fought.
"So they don't need chemo, they don't need radiation," said Grainne of cancer patients treated with Car T-Cell therapy. "They've been using this treatment on children who are in hospice care, and they've had a 94 percent success rate with this treatment."
Grainne says they are starting to try the treatment with other types of childhood cancer as well. She simply believes it will take raising more money through events like the fire truck pull to ultimately fund more research and save more lives.
"I think we're going to turn it from a killer disease to a curable one and that's what we've said all the way through," Grainne said. That was my aim right from the very beginning, and I think now that's possible."
Curing Kids Cancer has committed to a $1.2 million endowment at Palmetto Health Children's Hospital Children's Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. CKC recently presented a check for $150,000 and add that all proceeds from Saturday's event will benefit the endowment.
While team sign-ups are closed, you can still donate to the cause and cheer on the teams. You'll find more details at on the Curing Kids Cancer website.
Curing Kids Cancer is headquartered in Dallas and Atlanta and has hubs in five cities total, including here in Columbia.