The country star's young cousin, who will be turning 3 years old in January, received treatments at the hospital that saved her life
Blake Shelton is helping young cancer patients in a major way.
On Monday, Oklahoma University’s Children’s Hospital Foundation announced that the country star, 42, recently established the Blake Shelton Cancer Research Program in honor of his cousin, Aspen Van Horn, who received treatment at their Jimmy Everest Center for a neuroblastoma tumor when she was only 5 months old.
Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that forms in the nerve tissue, and it is the most common cancer found in infants. According to the Children’s Hospital Foundation, Van Horn had to endure two blood transfusions, three rounds of chemotherapy and a surgical procedure to remove much of her tumor. Now, she’s getting ready to celebrate her third birthday this January thanks to her successful treatments.
“We are so thankful that Children’s is close to us and that they have the best pediatric physicians to care for Aspen,” Van Horn’s mother, Shayla, said in 2017. “We didn’t have to leave the state to receive the care that Aspen needed. It would have been very hard for us to leave the state for that long. We were able to go home as we needed, and family members were able to visit and support Aspen without traveling long distance.”
Shelton credits his cousin’s survival to the hospital and praised them for the work they do for children who are battling pediatric cancer.
This isn’t the first time he has publicly shown his support. In 2016, the Voice coach donated $600,000 to the Jimmy Everest Center (with girlfriend Gwen Stefani by his side!) while in Oklahoma City for a concert stop.
“They don’t turn any kids away,” Shelton said while onstage at the concert. “You come in there, you have a problem, they don’t turn anybody away, so I thought, ‘That’s a place that needs some money.’
“Let’s all do the right thing,” he added. “This is our money, Oklahoma.”
According to Oklahoma’s The Ada News, the Children’s Hospital Foundation’s board president, Chip Keating, thanked Shelton for his “support in defeating childhood cancer” while establishing the new research program.
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“We have what I would consider to be one of the top cancer centers in America here in our footsteps, providing the best care possible for our kids with cancer,” Keating said. “This research program will help us further our mission to see more kids ring the bell, symbolizing the end of active treatment and the beginning of a life free of cancer.”
The Children’s Hospital Foundation states that in 2017, their programs supported more than 233,000 patients. All funds that are raised through the Children’s Hospital Foundation stay in Oklahoma, so that children will have access to exceptional pediatric specialists without having to leave the state.
Those who would like to support the research program can do so here.