A Charlotte woman is carrying on a close friend’s legacy, as well as the memory of her own brother, by leading efforts to find a cure for sarcoma. In 2014, Susan (“Sue”) Udelson assumed the role of Executive Director for the Paula Takacs Foundation for Sarcoma Research. Since 2013, the organization has shown tremendous dedication to raising funds for sarcoma research at Levine Cancer Institute. Although Paula Takacs, founder of the charitable organization, lost her fight with sarcoma in April 2014, her family – and friends like Sue – are carrying on her legacy. Sue credits her passion for sarcoma research to the memories of her brother’s experience, as well as those of her friend Paula (as she candidly shared recently with local blogger Jennifer Voorhees of Charlotte Smarty Pants).

paula at sarcoma stompLCI image 04_2016Paula Takacs (shown far left) was diagnosed with liposarcoma in November of 2004, shortly after the birth of her son, Graham. In response to the diagnosis, she and her husband Geof founded the Paula Takacs Foundation for Sarcoma Research. In the years that followed, Paula and a team of dedicated friends and supporters organized the foundation’s signature fundraising event, the Sarcoma Stomp, and swiftly built one of the most successful grassroots sarcoma foundations in the nation.

In the Sarcoma Stomp’s first year, more than 500 people came to McAlpine Park to participate in the race and support the cause. As of this April, the event has achieved record-success, raising $170,000 with the help of more than 1,000 participants. As this remarkably successful fundraising event grows, Levine Cancer Institute is honored to remain the sole beneficiary of the Sarcoma Stomp.

Because sarcomas are relatively rare among children – and even more so among adults – they lack the government funding that other cancers often receive. This is why philanthropic support is so critical to funding clinical trials aimed at finding a cure. Under the direction of Dr. Ed Kim (pictured above) and a team of physicians at Levine Cancer Institute (LCI), the funding provided by the Paula Takacs Foundation is allowing the first sarcoma-specific clinical trials to be conducted across the LCI network. Since its inception, the Paula Takacs Foundation has raised nearly $250,000 towards this goal. Their funds are now supporting researchers who are using biomarker data to develop clinical trials that will improve the lives and outcomes of patients diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma.

We are grateful for the building blocks that the Paula Takacs Foundation has put in place to make a difference in the lives of sarcoma patients and their families.  Paula’s legacy will no doubt continue through Sue Udelson, the Takacs Foundation Board, and their supporters, who work tirelessly to carry out their worthy mission.