'Loopy Foundation' funds new drug trial
By Katelyn Gendron
Reminder Assistant Editor
WEST SPRINGFIELD -- When 11-year-old Laura Sypek died of neuroblastoma on June 12, 2006, life was never the same for the Sypek family.
"When Laura passed away everything changed," Sandra Kosko, Laura's aunt, told Reminder Publications, adding that nothing, including her job at MassMutual, was satisfying anymore.
Since Laura's death, Kosko has dedicated her life and professional career to the non-profit Soupy for Loopy Foundation Inc., established to help raise funds for a cure for neuroblastoma, a form of pediatric cancer.
The first Soupy for Loopy fundraiser in 2007 brought people out to eat Laura's favorite tomato soup and raised thousands of dollars for the cause. Over $25,000 has been raised since then, through the foundation's additional fundraisers, including the upcoming West Springfield Fire Department versus West Springfield Police Department Basketball Game on April 25.
"We didn't know what we would have [to raise to help fund research for a cure]," Kosko explained. "We [Laura's parents and I] did it because we love Laura and wanted to do something in her memory. We didn't even know what to expect.
"I couldn't be more pleased at where we are now," she continued. "It's heart-warming to know that she touched so many people."
Laura's father Mark Sypek, a West Springfield police officer, will be coaching the department's team at the upcoming basketball game fundraiser.
"It's [going to be] a good, competitive game," he said, adding that he anticipates each Soupy for Loopy fundraiser to continue to expand each year.
"We'd ultimately like to find someone to can the soup that Laura liked so much and be able to [have them] donate a portion of the proceeds to Soupy for Loopy," Mark said.
Kosko noted that the funds raised over the past three years allowed the foundation to issue a $25,000 grant to New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy, a collaboration of physicians and researchers from 15 universities and children's hospitals across the country working toward cure for neuroblastoma.
The grant provided funding for the development of the N2007-02 Clinical Trial, which will begin this year under the direction of Dr. Julia Glade-Bender of Morgan Stanley's Children's Hospital of New York Presbyterian.
Kosko explained that the foundation is also dedicated to giving back to the local community. She said that she volunteers at Laura's school, Mittineague Elementary, each week for storytime with first and second graders. Kosko noted that she picks a book from Laura's Loft -- a section of the West Springfield Public Library dedicated in her memory.
For additional information about Soupy for Loopy or to participate in a fundraiser, visit www.soupyforloopy.org
The West Springfield Fire vs. West Springfield Police Basketball Game will take place on April 25 at 6 p.m. at West Springfield High School, 425 Piper Rd.