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Michigan, Wisconsin rivalry heats up in the fight against childhood cancer

U-M challenges U-W in a battle over who can raise the most money for pediatric cancer research before Oct.1 football game


ANN ARBOR, Mich. —   The Michigan Wolverines take on the Wisconsin Badgers this fall, and they will be competing for more than a football victory.

C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan has challenged University of Wisconsin’s American Family Children’s Hospital in a competition to see which institution can raise the most money for pediatric cancer research.

The winner will be named before kickoff at the Oct.1 football game between the two schools at Michigan Stadium. A childhood cancer patient from each hospital has been invited onto the field during the trophy presentation.

The Wolverine-Badger challenge is part of the month-long Block Out Cancer campaign at Mott, designed to increase awareness about the need for pediatric cancer research during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

“Regardless of who wins the challenge, the real winners will be the children who benefit from cancer research,” says Valerie Opipari, M.D., a pediatric oncologist and chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

“Ultimately, we are both fighting on the same team with the shared goal to end childhood cancer.”

Some familiar figures plan to participate in the #BlockOutCancer campaign throughout the month, including Top Chef Fabio Viviani, Detroit Red Wings’ goalie Jimmy Howard, NFL writer and ESPN analyst Adam Schefter and Detroit Lions’ quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Dan Orlovsky among other recognizable faces.

All of the funds raised as part of the challenge will directly fund breakthrough research in each childhood cancer program.

Wolverine Badger challenge

Everyone has a role

Each year, more than 13,000 parents will learn that their child has cancer. Despite great advancements in research and treatment, one out of five children with cancer does not survive.

Research aimed at uncovering cures is woefully underfunded – with just 4 percent of federal funding for cancer research supporting children’s cancer.

“We have made strong advances towards improving cure rates for childhood cancer, but it is still the leading cause of death by disease among children in our country. Every child deserves a cure,” Opipari says.

“Our doctors and researchers are leading the search for new drugs and treatments, but everyone has a role in fighting for children with cancer. That’s what this campaign is about.”
Funding is critical to future progress in pediatric cancer research, Opipari says. Every gift, no matter the size, makes a difference. But getting involved can also be as simple as spreading the word by sharing the #BlockOutCancer message on social media channels and other platforms.

Block Out Cancer t-shirts similar to those donned by athletes and TV personalities through September are being sold as part of the fundraiser as well.

The campaign follows several significant pediatric cancer advances at Mott, which is home to the largest, cutting-edge pediatric research effort in the state of Michigan. These include investments in advanced immunotherapy research, which explores how the immune system can work smarter and harder to attack tumors and that scientists believe will revolutionize cancer treatment.

U-M has also published major findings in the area of precision oncology. Researchers are using genome sequencing to personalize each child’s treatment by zeroing in on genetic mutations that make a child’s cancer unique. 

For more information on how you can play a role in #BlockOutCancer, visit


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