Celebrities Give HEADRUSH a Boost
Madison, Wisconsin - What do Scarlett Johansson, Gerard Butler, Justin Timberlake and Eva Longoria all have in common?
Along with other celebrities, they each recently posed for a new book to benefit "HEADRUSH," a brain cancer research fund at the UW Carbone Cancer Center.
The Beauty Book for Brain Cancer features stunning photographs of more than 100 TV and film stars by L.A. photographer Darren Tieste. Tieste embarked on a two-year mission to create the book after losing a good friend to brain cancer several years ago.
When Wisconsin native "Pantera" Sarah Uphoff heard that Tieste was photographing The Beauty Book to benefit research in the field, she jumped on board. At the time, Uphoff's mother, Louise, was suffering the effects of a brain tumor. Uphoff realized she could use her work as a promoter in L.A. to recruit more celebrities for the book.
"When my mom got sick, so many of them offered to help," says Uphoff of her stage and screen friends. "The Beauty Book was their chance to chip in for the cause."
On the day of her mother's first surgery, Uphoff met Brandi Funk, founder of HEADRUSH. When Funk's late husband, Chris, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2001, they began holding annual events to raise money for brain cancer research.
"As soon as Chris's treatments began, we wanted to feel like we were part of this community," says Brandi. "The cancer was something we couldn't control, but at the end of the day, we wanted to give back."
And give back they did. Since 2004, HEADRUSH has raised more than $800,000 for the UW Carbone Cancer Center, all dedicated to developing better therapies for brain cancer.
After learning more about the HEADRUSH from Funk, Uphoff knew she wanted the organization to be a beneficiary of proceeds from The Beauty Book.
"Since the money goes straight to research, HEADRUSH is the most direct route toward finding better treatments," says Uphoff.
John Kuo, MD, PhD, leader of the UW Carbone Cancer Center's Disease Oriented Working Group for brain cancer, uses funds from HEADRUSH to create novel, effective, and safe biological therapies that target brain cancer cells.
"This is a wonderful validation of the tremendous, sustained effort over many years by Brandi and Chris Funk, and the entire HEADRUSH team," says Kuo. "We honor Chris Funk's memory by advancing research discoveries to benefit future brain tumor patients."
For her part, Brandi Funk is elated to have half the proceeds from The Beauty Book go toward HEADRUSH – with the other half going toward brain cancer research at the Sydney Neurology Oncology Group (SNOG) in Tieste's home of Australia.
Losing a loved-one to brain cancer is not easy for anyone. Uphoff remembers well how brain cancer affects its victims.
"Toward the end, my mother just wasn't there anymore. No one else should have to experience that feeling of losing a loved one like that," she says.
Contributing to brain cancer research has transformed the helplessness of watching someone suffer for both Funk and Uphoff - into a power to do something good for others.
"Working on The Beauty Book gave me a chance to feel helpful in a helpless situation," says Uphoff. "Hopefully the funds raised will help the researchers at UW find better treatments, and ideally a much needed cure for this devastating disease."
The Beauty Book For Brain Cancer, a hard cover coffee table book with images of celebrities, musicians and top models, is available for $39.99.
Date Published: 12/19/2011