Damon Runyon News

December 21, 2016

By Jean Singer of the Jake Wetchler Foundation

As he battled cancer at age 20, my son Jake Wetchler would often say, “Don’t let the cancer win.”  When he died, his father Jonathan Wetchler and I were determined to keep up the fight. Together we created the Jake Wetchler Foundation to fund innovative approaches to curing pediatric acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). But we didn’t know how to find the best research to support.

The people at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center directed us to Damon Runyon. They said that if you want to understand how to run a foundation effectively, talk to the people over there. Damon Runyon has this knack, this process, or whatever magic it is that they do, to find the best of the best.

Together, we have funded several innovative young scientists focused on finding new cures for pediatric AML. Recently, Jonathan and I endowed an annual prize, which will be given to a Damon Runyon Fellow most likely to make a significant impact on childhood cancers. Learn about Mark W. Zimmerman, PhD, our first prize winner, featured in the video.


Losing a child to cancer is pretty much the worst thing that can happen in your life. And when that happens, you try to do things to honor the memory of your child. I think Jake would be proud of what we’re doing with Damon Runyon; he would think Damon Runyon was a really cool organization. He would feel like all of this was the right thing to do.