It really means a lot, especially since we've been on the research side of treatment. This donation makes that much more meaningful, that little Ethan can be much mores a part of cancer research going forward. —Merrill Van Leuven
SALT LAKE CITY — An anonymous $250,000 donation has been announced in the name of 4-year-old Ethan Van Leuven, who died Tuesday after a battle with leukemia.
The little boy from West Jordan captured hearts around the state and across the country as his family planned early celebrations of Halloween, Christmas and Ethan's birthday in his final days of life.
Ethan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 22 months old. After years of treatments, remissions and relapses, the Van Leuvens found out the treatments were not working. They wanted their son's final days to be happy and full of memories, and hundreds rallied to make sure it was.
Friday an anonymous donor announced via KSL Newsradio's "The Doug Wright Show" that $250,000 would be given for research at the Huntsman Cancer Institute as a permanent remembrance of Ethan.
The donor is asking all who were touched by Ethan's story to make their own donations, whether large or small, in hopes that the amount can be doubled. Donations can be made on the Huntsman Cancer Institute website.
Merrill Van Leuven, Ethan's father, shared his family's appreciation for the donation following the announcement Friday.
"It has been our pleasure to share Ethan's story," he said. "It's not quite what we expected initially, but seeing the outreach of the community on all levels has been an inspiration to us."
The emphasis on research, he said, is especially meaningful.
"It really means a lot, especially since we've been on the research side of treatment," said Merrill Van Leuven, describing the two clinical studies his son participated in. "This donation makes that much more meaningful, that little Ethan can be much mores a part of cancer research going forward."
Michael Engel, a pediatric oncologist at Primary Children's Hospital, said on "The Doug Wright Show" that he is inspired by the generous gift.
"The advances occurring in modern molecular medicine now are truly staggering," Engel said. "That gives us the ability to fight back, and so that's what we do in the laboratory and in clinical settings through research."
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