North Adams, Massachusetts – Cathy and Joe Arabia run the AYJ Fund from their home in North Adams to help children diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Their mission has grown in recent years to help children undergo treatment for all types of cancers.
They say it all started after they lost their daughter to a rare form of the disease.
What you need to know
- AYJ Fund It is a nonprofit organization that supports families dealing with childhood cancer and raises funds for research
- The fund is dedicated to Anna Yang G Arabia, who lived with cerebral glioma for three and a half years, was treated at the Jamie Fund Clinic in Dana Farber, and passed away at the age of 16 on Valentine’s Day 2013.
- The mission of the AYJ Fund is to bring smiles to children with cancer, connect children to school and friends through technology and support research on Gliomatosis Cerebri and other brain cancers.
- Kathy Arabia was named 2022 Patriots Team Maker of the Year by the New England Patriots Foundation for her work starting the AYJ Fund. She got a surprise bonus of $20,000 in the New Year’s Day game against the Miami Dolphins
Cathy Arabia said, “The AYJ Fund stands for Anna Yan Ge—that was the name of our daughter, we adopted her from China. We started the AYJ Fund after we lost our daughter to Gliomatosis Cerebri, a very rare brain cancer.”
Anna received treatment for three and a half years. She passed away on Valentine’s Day 2013 at the age of 16. At the time, Cathy said, no research had been done on the rare diagnosis, and now they’re working to help kids around the world.
“There have been no effective treatments for any of these children and we are working until we can find a way to help these children,” Cathy said.
Arabs began to establish links with families from different countries and countries affected by glioma cerebral disease. Their work began with learning through tutorials at the Dana-Farber Institute, and with the help of Dr. Mark Kieran and others, their meetings have evolved into international seminars where research is discussed.
The need for funding is great, so AYJ and other organizations are taking on the challenge.
“We said we’d do it, and we’d get the funding,” said Joe Arabia. “In short, we’re now within two years of our three-year international research project on gliomas. It’s amazing that two people from North Adams, you know, this place tucked away “In the Berkshire Hills, they can put together such a tremendous organization and work internationally with the best doctors in the world in pediatric cancer and brain cancer. It’s absolutely amazing.”
In addition to research efforts, the AYJ Fund has programs to keep children in touch with their friends while they are undergoing treatment as well as finding ways to make them smile.
Cathy said: “We have three programs – Smiles, Communication and Therapy. So Smiles is helping kids who are battling cancer right now. Our communications programs keep them connected especially through their teenage years with their friends, family and school through technology. And a very important part of the Foundation’s program is the work we do To raise awareness and to help fund research to find effective treatments for these children.”
The Arabias said the AYJ fund business has become 24/7, but honoring Anna is what keeps them going.
“Really, everything we do is, you know, we can feel its power within us,” Cathy said. “And we see it in the strength of all the children who fight every single day.”
The AYJ Fund can be found at Facebook through website.