Charles and Irma Millard established the Four Diamonds Fund in 1972 after the death of their son, Christopher, who was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 11. Today a board of civic leaders from counties throughout central Pennsylvania advises the Fund.
How the Fund got its name and what it means
The Four Diamonds Fund is named after a story that Christopher Millard wrote shortly before he lost his battle with cancer at the age of 14. In Chris’ story, a knight must find the four diamonds of Courage, Wisdom, Honesty and Strength in order to be released from captivity by an evil sorceress. The four diamonds are symbolic of the traits Chris believed were necessary to overcome cancer.
Since 1972, the Four Diamonds Fund has served more than 2,000 families, primarily from the central Pennsylvania area, but also from surrounding states. Approximately 100 new families a year become Four Diamonds families. Our commitment to these children extends into their adulthood. With some patients in their thirties, their survival offers hope for better treatment and a cure for all childhood cancer.
How Four Diamonds Can Help Families
The Fund covers all expenses for the care and treatment of the children not paid for by insurance or other means. In addition, Four Diamonds assists families with expenses that have the potential to disrupt the welfare of their child, by paying for necessary expenses such as car repairs, rent, or household utilities.
Medical Team Support
The Four Diamonds Fund supports staff members who provide comprehensive care through a team comprised of pediatric oncologists, nurse specialists, social workers, child life specialists, a clinical nutritionist, a clinical psychologist, and a music therapist.
Since 1993, the Four Diamonds Fund has annually supported research projects that relate to pediatric cancer conducted at the Penn State College of Medicine. In 1999, the Fund established the Four Diamonds Pediatric Cancer Research Institute with a $5 million commitment from the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, which they completed in three years, two years ahead of their anticipated date. The goal of the endowment is to positively impact the lives of children with cancer around the world, now and in the future. Dr. Barbara A. Miller holds the Christopher Millard Chair for Pediatric Research. Since then the endowment for research has grown to over $30 million.
How Funds Are Raised
In 1977, the Four Diamonds Fund became the sole beneficiary of the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON™), the largest student-run philanthropy in the nation. The most recent THON, in February 2012, raised over $9.6 million for the Four Diamonds Fund. Inspired by THON, over 77 high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools have held their own mini dance marathons and have contributed significantly to the Fund. During the 2011-2012 school year, the mini-thons raised over $1.6 million in support of Four Diamonds. Other sources of financial support include community events, corporate donors, foundations, and individuals committed to helping to find a cure for pediatric cancer.
How Funds Are Allocated
Committees consisting of Four Diamonds Advisory Board members and Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital staff and administrators annually review requests for funding to cover expenses in the areas of patient care, clinical operations, research, and administration. The committees review the requests and make recommendations to the Dean of the College of Medicine who gives the final approval of the annual allocation of funds.