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CLIFTON PARK: Family funds cancer research position

It's okay to go places even when you are bald, is one of the many wise, brave statements the family of Catie Hoch holds close to their hearts seven years after Catie died from pediatric cancer at age 9.

The spunky, spirited girl, who lived in Clifton Park and unrelentingly fought her neuroblastoma until the end, inspired her parents, Gina Peca and Larry Hoch, to create the Catie Hoch Foundation.

To mark the occasion of what would be Catie's 16th birthday, the foundation established a foundation fund at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center where Catie was treated. Announced Friday, March 30, the fund set up a research position at the medical center to help speed along research into childhood cancer.

"The foundation will endow a translational research position where doctors can quickly translate what they learn in the laboratory into treatment methods for children with cancer being treated at the clinic," said Peca. "We hope implementing this vital position will further all the advances being made."

The fund was created with an initial donation of $250,000. Catie's physician, much loved by the family, Dr. Nai-Kong Cheung, is head of the neuro-blastoma program and accepted the donation on behalf of the medical staff.

"I want to thank Gina and Larry and the Catie Hoch Foundation for the commitment to Memorial Sloan-Kettering and its patients," said Cheung. "Over the years, they have given us financial and spiritual support for which we are most grateful. We will never forget Catie and the others who continue to remind us of what we need to work on."

Cheung said substantial progress has been made by the medical teams in neuroblastoma diagnosis and treatments.

During her short lifetime, Catie herself helped doctors forge ahead with research on effective treatments with the aggressive form of cancer. Throughout her treatment at the cancer center, she underwent several surgeries, high-dose chemotherapy, radiation and numerous clinical trials.

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