Starr Children’s Fund Launches Campaign to Fund a Fellowship for the Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s of Alabama
Published: April 29, 2023
One of Alabama’s most beloved sports families, the Starrs, launched a $1 million fundraising campaign during a luncheon on April 18 at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Funds raised will support a pediatric Hematology/Oncology fellowship for the Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s of Alabama that will help children battling cancer.
Cherry Starr, wife of late NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr, shared her family’s goal of funding a fellowship at Children’s of Alabama that will be named after Bart and herself in perpetuity. The fellowship will focus on blood and marrow transplants for children. Bone marrow transplants are not just for blood cancers. These transplants are now an option for other blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia and severe combined immunodeficiency, bone marrow failure and some neurological diseases.
At the luncheon, Girish Dhall, MD, director of the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders, described the impact the Bart & Cherry Starr Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Fund would have on physicians and patients.
“A medical fellowship is a training program for doctors who wish to gain extensive experience in a specific area of medicine,” says Dr. Dhall. “Due to the specialized expertise required in bone and marrow transplants, the Bart and Cherry Starr Pediatric Fellowship will prepare the next generation of physicians so they can provide the exceptional care and cutting-edge treatment children in Alabama need to fight cancer.”
He added how the pediatric Hematology/Oncology fellowship’s impact has a ripple effect.
“We send our fellows out to institutions all across the country, and as that number has grown, it’s been wonderful to see the impact our fellows are having on the field – not only here in Alabama, but across the country,” Dr. Dhall adds.
The Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders is a partnership between the UAB Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Children’s of Alabama, the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and the National Childhood Research entities including the National Cancer Institute and the Children’s Oncology Group.
The Starrs are well-known in Alabama. Cherry Starr currently lives in Birmingham. Bart Starr grew up in Montgomery and played for Lanier High School before playing college ball at the University of Alabama. One of the most admired Green Bay Packers players ever, Starr quarterbacked the team to five NFL championships in the 1960s under the guidance of coach Vince Lombardi and was named MVP of the first two super bowls. After suffering a serious stroke in 2014, the legendary quarterback’s health began to decline, and he passed away in 2019 at 85-years-old.
Lesser known in Alabama is the couple’s Starr Children’s Fund, which they established in 2017 with the help of the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation to raise funds to support pediatric cancer research and treatment. To date, the Starr Children’s Fund has awarded $535,000 in grants to organizations tackling childhood cancer, including Children’s of Alabama, Children’s Wisconsin, the Medical University of South Carolina, and Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute in Oregon.
To support the funding of this fellowship program, visit starrchildrensfund.org to donate or learn more.