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Disrupt the Bay, a ‘conference with a cause,’ shakes up traditional fundraising for children’s cancer research

Margie Manning



Monica Angel

Click the arrow above to hear St. Pete Catalyst publisher Joe Hamilton’s interview with Monica Angel.

Children die from cancer every day. Monica Angel is working to change that.

Angel, founder and executive director of Cure Kids’ Cancer Now and CEO of Save The Kids Foundation, is one of the organizers of Disrupt the Bay 2019, an event designed to provide an opportunity to learn about disruptive technology and startups in the healthcare space.

The conference-with-a-cause, sponsored by Save the Kids Foundation and University of South Florida Muma College of Business, will be held in the Phyllis P. Marshall Student Center at USF in Tampa Thursday, Nov. 7, from noon until 8 p.m. with all proceeds going toward the funding of childhood cancer research.

It’s a disruptive approach to fundraising, Angel told Joe Hamilton, publisher of the St. Pete Catalyst.

“We were trying to think outside the box about fundraising for childhood cancer research. It’s really challenging. There are so many great organizations out there and we don’t want to duplicate efforts. They have galas and fashion shows and fishing tournaments and silent auctions. I go to them and enjoy them, but oftentimes it’s the same crowd over and over again. It’s the crowd that already cares about childhood cancer. It’s the crowd that’s already going to support it. What we’d like to do is educate people who don’t already support it and let them know why they should,” Angel said.

Disrupt the Bay will host a panel of senior executives for the “Mentor Madness” portion of the program, where 10 start-ups will have the opportunity to share who they are and how they are disrupting the status quo of their fields. Hosted by Moez Limayem, dean of USF Muma College of Business, and moderated by Larry Whiteside of Presidio, the panel will feature prominent guests in healthcare information technology and startup leadership where they will cover topics including blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning, 3D printing, augmented reality and virtual reality and more.

The keynote speaker is Jay Samit, author of Disrupt You!, and an entrepreneur who is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on disruption and innovation.

“What we are doing is hosting events starting with Disrupt the Bay that get people in the room because of something they are interested in, something they want to do. I’ll take about 15 minutes our of seven-hour program to talk about childhood cancer,” Angel said. “We’re trying to meet people where they are, provide them something they want to do no matter what and also use it as an opportunity to educate people about childhood cancers.”

Angel’s five-month-old daughter, Emmi Grace, died from a type of childhood cancer called atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor, or AT/RT, a brain tumor.

In addition to her role at other organizations, Angel is director of community affairs for Hope for AT/TR, and one of her goals is to educate people about the misconception that all childhood cancers are the same.

“There are many types of cancer. When we make a breakthrough for lymphoma or leukemia … we don’t then say brain cancer is a survivable disease,” Angel said. “I’m motivated by leukemia. In my childhood it was a death sentence. Today more children are surviving … My goal is when my 5-year-old is my age, she can say the same thing about AT/RT.”

Funding is vital, Angel said, citing the treatment her daughter received. “We were naïve enough to think because we could get her the best possible specialist she would be OK … What we found was even the best possible specialists are using old, outdated treatments,” including drugs designed for adults and modified for use in children and babies, Angel said.

“It was toxic to her. She didn’t die from brain cancer. She died from the treatment she was given for the cancer,” she said. “These doctors are working so hard trying to treat these kids really well, but the tools in their toolbox aren’t good enough. We’re trying to fund them so they have better tools and the children will survive.”

To purchase tickets and learn more about Disrupt the Bay 2019, click here.

To hear Joe Hamilton’s full interview with Monica Angel, click the arrow above.


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