Abbypalooza at Cape County Park North raises more than $5,000 for brain cancer research

Sunday, October 30, 2011
Children and adults scramble over un-popped bubble wrap during the first ever Abbypalooza Saturday, October 29, 2011 at Cape County Park North. Abbypalooza also featured a morning walk, model boats and airplanes, a bouncy house, train rides, games, food and fun for all ages. The event raised money for Pediatric Brain Tumor Research at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University in memory of Abby Jensen, 5, who lost her battle in July. (Laura Simon)

An event two months in the making raised $5,000 Saturday to help fund brain tumor research.

Abbypalooza, named for 5-year-old Abby Jensen, who died of brain cancer in July, began as an idea of her mother, Maegan Jensen. Two weeks after Abby's death, Jensen asked family friend April Huffman to help plan an event to raise money to fight diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, the rarest of all pediatric brain tumors, and to express gratitude to the community that helped her family after Abby's diagnosis.

Abbypalooza was held at pavilion No. 4 at Cape County Park North. It included a sponsored one-mile walk in which participants were encouraged to wear Halloween costumes, children's olympic games, a bouncy house, barbecue and a performance by Doc Rock-It, a country cover band from St. Louis. Food was sold to raise money for the charity, but all other activities were free.

"Yes, we're raising this money for the charity," Huffman said, "but the family wanted to make a lot of the games free for the community as a thank you for all the help they were given."

An estimated 500 people attended, and $5,000 was collected through food and T-shirt sales, walk sponsorships and donations. All money raised will be donated to the Lucile Packard Hospital at Stanford University to fund pediatric brain tumor research.

Many of Abby's health care workers, including a nurse, physical therapists and hospice workers, participated in the walk.

Among them was Alaina Landstrom, Abby's nurse in the neurology unit at Children's Hospital in St. Louis, who befriended Abby when she became ill in August 2010.

"When Abby was diagnosed she came to our floor first, and she and I bonded over everything princess," Landstrom said. "Her strength was just amazing and showed me why I do my job."

Corey Beussink and Jenny Aloisio were two of Abby's physical therapists at Southeast HealthPoint Rehabilitation who came to help raise money for the cause.

"There was never a day that she didn't make you laugh," Aloisio said.

"She was one of a kind," Beus≠sink said.

Between 150 and 200 are diagnosed with DIPG annually, and survival is typically nine to 12 months. Radiation and chemotherapy are used to treat the cancer, but there is no known cure and no advances have been made in treatment options for more than 30 years.

"These tumors are one of the most understudied types of cancer because the tumor infiltrates the brain stem, which controls vital functions. It cannot be surgically removed," said Suzanne Baker, Ph.D., a member of the St. Jude Department of Developmental Neurobiology, in a paper that appeared in the Sept. 19 online edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Huffman was pleased with the $5,000 collected but said she hoped that would grow. "I've had several people tell me they're planning to send sponsorship checks."

Donations are still being accepted. Checks may be made out to Maegan Jensen c/o Abbypalooza and sent to P.O. Box 43, Oak Ridge, MO 63769.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: