OXFORD >> Paul Matthews has seen far too many children die.
Matthews, of Oxford, lost his son, Eli Seth, to leukemia in 2011 at the age of 10. Since then, he has established the Eli Seth Matthews Leukemia Foundation and has raised tens of thousands of dollars in fundraising efforts for the American Cancer Society.
He continually visits children dying of cancer, trying to brighten their day. He recently took a young boy battling cancer for his dream ride in a Triumph Spitfire convertible. The boy died a short while later, another national statistic that cites one out of every four children diagnosed with cancer will die before they hit age 20.
“I try to get their minds off the daily routine of tests and hospitals,” Matthews said.
Matthews is passionate about his mission to help children battling cancer. For him, it’s personal.
“Worldwide, 100,000 children die of cancer every year,” he said. “In the United States every day, 47 children die of cancer. It is the most underfunded cancer research that there is. Only 4 percent of cancer funding spent by the government goes toward childhood cancer research. That is a travesty, and it’s devastating for the kids.”
Ethan Navarro, 7, of Oxford, is in a life-or-death battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, the fastest-growing form of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. After a transplant from his mother’s stem cells didn’t work, Matthews sat with the Navarro family as they pondered options, and decided to take him to Memphis Tenn. for an experimental drug. The foundation Matthews set up was able to get Navarro and his famly to the Tennessee hospital, but unfortunately, the drug didn’t work. Currently, Ethan is fighting a serious lung infection.
With September designated as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a series of events, programs and special sales are scheduled to fund childhood cancer.
All during the month of September, $1 of every 12-inch hoagie sold at any of Landhope’s three locations — Kennett Square, Unionville and Port Deposit, Md. — will go toward the Eli Seth Matthews Leukemia Foundation. And it will donate 50-cents for every hamburger sold. Wholly Grounds and Third Street Outlet will donate a portion of its sales during September to the foundation. On Sept. 10, there will be a Cruise for a Cure at Oxford Tire and Auto. A benefit bicycle race, The Brave Eli Ride for cancer research will be held in West Chester on Oct. 2. A benefit horseshoe tournament hosted by Before and After Tire and Auto in Avondale will take place Oct. 15. And Blitz Automotive in Kennett Square will soon begin collecting toys so that every child at AI DuPont Children’s Hospital will have a toy for Christmas.
On Monday, Aug. 29, Matthews and a group of volunteers will put gold ribbons (which symbolizes Childhood Cancer Awareness) on every light pole in Oxford. On Sept. 17 and Sept 18, Matthews will be traveling to Washington D.C. for the national CureFest for Childhood Cancer.
Matthews recently delivered a $30,000 check to Todd Druley and the St. Louis Children’s Hospital which is aggressively conducting childhood cancer research. Since the Seth Eli Leukemia Foundation was formed, more than $150,000 has been donated to fund childhood cancer research.
Matthews has also established an annual scholarship to a deserving Oxford High School graduate who will pursue a career in the medical field.
Matthews said he will continue his mission because that is what Eli would have wanted.
“Our children are our future,” Matthews said. “Without funding, we can’t do anything.”
To donate go to www.BraveEli.com. It is a 501c-3 foundation. All money raised goes to the Eli Seth Matthews Leukemia Foundation, Inc.