Founded by siblings Ryan and Kelley LaFontaine, U CAN-CER VIVE Foundation provides funding and support for cancer research grants in the state of Michigan. Since becoming an official nonprofit in February of 2016, the foundation has raised more than $1 million.

The owners of LaFontaine Automotive Group, based in Highland Township, are two siblings who are very passionate about helping the fight against cancer, knowing too well the toll it can take on families. Ryan LaFontaine himself is a 10-year cancer survivor and has many family members who have fallen victim to this disease.

“It was time to pay it forward,” LaFontaine says, “so we began raising funds to support local hospitals and organizations in their fight against cancer. After we raised $1 million through Leukemia Lymphoma Society for 10 grants with Mott Children's Hospital, Kelley and I decided to start our own foundation that we could oversee to make sure every single dollar raised would go directly to cancer research,” LaFontaine reports. “Our mission is to provide vital funding for cancer research in hopes that one day our world will be cancer free.”

The foundation is operated solely “by passionate volunteers,” LaFontaine describes. “We are so proud to say that 100 percent of our profits to date have gone directly to fund cancer research grants in Michigan.” U CAN-CER VIVE recently funded a grant at Children's Hospital of Michigan to develop hybrid drugs that can treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and neuroblastoma. The Foundation also funded a grant for doctors working toward finding a new immunotherapy approach for treating AML, which accounts for half of all leukemia deaths of American children each year.

“Last fall we funded another research opportunity at Children's Hospital (of Michigan),” LaFontaine reports. This one is to fund the development of drugs that will shrink the size of brain tumors, making chemotherapy and radiation more successful.

In 2018, U CAN-CER VIVE placed funds in urology research at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. The Beaumont Urology team’s overall goal is to identify protein biomarkers that aid in predicting radiation cystitis at an early stage, and possibly, in preventing this severely debilitating complication as a result of radiotherapy to the bladder and bowel.

“We keep all of the foundation funds here in Michigan,” LaFontaine points out. “Before we earmark funds for a research grant, we meet with the research team, we visit their research site, and learn as much as we can about how the money will be used. And, what is very important to us, the research team must be just as passionate as we are about improving the cancer survival rate.” “We look for a true partnership, those who align with our mission.” With the help of community supporters, the LaFontaines are certain they can continue making an impact on the cure for cancer through research. “Our goal is to raise $1 million each year,” LaFontaine says with commitment. And, the community did not let them down when the U CAN-CER VIVE Foundation hosted its signature events this year: its first annual golf outing, Fore...The Cure, and Cure&Couture Drive for the Cure. More than $375,000 was raised during these events.

Helping U CAN-CER VIVE doesn't always have to be through monetary donations; the foundation is looking for passionate volunteers who want to donate their time for such a valuable cause. To learn more about these opportunities, go to www.ucancervive.com and complete an online form, or visit the U CAN-CER VIVE Facebook page. Someone will contact you about your interests and how you would like to be involved.

Our mission is to provide vital funding for cancer research in hopes that one day our world will be cancer free. -RYAN LAFONTAINE-