Heroes Foundation Awards $157,500 to Four Organizations in 2024

INDIANAPOLIS—The Heroes Foundation, a leading supporter of the cancer community across Indiana, announced gifts totaling $157,500 to support eight projects focused on providing meaningful support to cancer patients, education to promote cancer prevention, and resources to advance research for a cure.

“The programs that the Heroes Foundation supports are integral to furthering our mission and the collaborative spirit of our organization,” said Annie Martinez, Executive Director of the Heroes Foundation. “By standing alongside these four partners, our collective impact in supporting cancer patients, caregivers, survivors and scientists is so much greater than any of us could accomplish alone.” 

Partners were selected based on their ability to provide effective services and opportunities to patients and families facing a cancer diagnosis, and to people at risk of developing cancer. The Heroes Foundation has had long-standing relationships with many of the finest treatment and research programs in the state, all of which count on external funding to carry out their important work in our community. 

In addition, the Heroes Foundation medical advisory committee chose promising projects from research institutions across Indiana to award cancer research seed funding. Many of these gifts are annual commitments to multiyear grants. Without this kind of critical startup funding, many researchers would be incapable of obtaining larger grants and funding sources, bringing their work to a standstill.

The committed gifts to the following partners are associated with the three pillars — or “summits” — of the Heroes Foundation mission. Other programs and projects, such as the Heroes Foundation Team JOEY Cityscape Room at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital, were also unveiled in 2023.


Support to Patients

  • Oncology Patient Assistance Fund (Community Health Network) – $15,000
  • CompleteLife First Mondays Cancer Support Groups and Art Show (IU Health Foundation) – $35,000


Cancer Prevention & Education 

  • Andrew S. Hipskind, MD Memorial Scholarship (Indiana University Foundation) – $12,500
  • Multidisciplinary Oncologic Vitality and Exercise (MOVE) program (Indiana University Foundation) – $30,000


Funded Research Towards a Cure

  • Dr. Nawal Kassem’s research on hereditary cancer syndrome (SJP Heroes Cancer Research Fund, Indiana University Foundation) – $20,000
  • Dr. Jennifer Belsky’s pediatric cancer research on the impacts of therapies (Indiana University Foundation) – $10,000
  • Pediatric cancer research project to be determined (Team JOEY, Indiana University Foundation) – $10,000
  • Cancer research project to be determined (Harper Cancer Research Institute, University of Notre Dame) – $25,000


The following is just a sampling of the feedback we’ve received from people impacted by Heroes Foundation gifts.

Speaking about their experience participating in CompleteLife First Mondays Cancer Support Groups, a caregiver said, “I am so thankful this program exists. I don’t have to do it all alone anymore!” 

“Funding from the Heroes Foundation has enabled six additional Federal grant requests to fund potential future clinical trials,” said Dr. Jennifer Belsky, DO, MS, of Riley Children’s Health. “These trials will use knowledge gained from the supported study to create a personalized approach for children at risk for neuropathy who are receiving chemotherapy.”

“The SJP Heroes Cancer Research Fund has helped me focus research on individuals found to have a hereditary cancer syndrome,” said Dr. Nawal Kassem, MD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Clinical Medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine. Since receiving startup funding, Kassem has collected patient data and written a clinical trial protocol centered around Black patients. 

“The Heroes Foundation is relentless in its pursuit of cures for pediatric cancer and advances in treatments, as well as getting LEGOs into the hands of every child battling cancer. Just what Joey wanted,” said Nick Keller, father of Joey Keller, the namesake for the Heroes Foundation Team JOEY Fund.

Transparency and impact are top priorities when the Heroes Foundation awards funding. For information on our partners and how our gifts will be used, please contact Executive Director Annie Martinez at AMartinez@heroesfoundation.org.

About the Heroes Foundation

The Heroes Foundation provides meaningful support to cancer patients, education to promote cancer prevention, and resources to advance research for a cure. The Foundation funds programs, initiatives and organizations that provide hope and support in Indiana to those impacted by cancer. The organization was founded in 2000 as a public 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Visit heroesfoundation.org for more.