Tag raises money for cancer cure

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 13, 2005

In late March of 2004, four-year-old Reginald “Butta” Joyner was diagnosed with an inoperable tumor on his brain stem.

Despite months of treatment, little Butta did not make it though the year.

He died in his mother’s arms just a few weeks before Christmas.

In grieving her son’s death, Butta’s mother, Cheryl Joyner, has found some solace in a program that is trying to prevent more children from meeting the same fate.

Joyner discovered a program that is raising funds for cancer research through the sale of Alabama license plates.

Last month the license plates were made available to the public and can be purchased at every Department of Motor Vehicles office in the state

“If we can all get together and raise money, we can make a difference,” Joyner said.

The new auto tags have a yellow background and decorated with children’s handprints with the words “Curing Childhood Cancer” printed on it.

They cost $50, with nearly all the proceeds benefiting the UAB division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.

There is also no additional cost to have the plate’s personalized, Joyner said.

“Ninety-five percent or more of children with cancer in Alabama are treated at Children’s Hospital,” said Dan Sims, spokesperson for the organizations promoting the license plate.

“The money stays in Alabama and it will be used to help world class doctors in our own neighborhood.”

Reigning Miss America and Birmingham native Deidre Downs designed and promoted the “Curing Childhood Caner” tags in the fall of 2002.

Through her non-profit organization Making Miracles, Downs coordinated a yearlong campaign to meet the state’s requirement of 1,000 pre-sold plates.

“We doubled the requirement and sold over 2,000 plates,” Sims said.

Sims said childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of children.

Statistics show 46 American children are diagnosed with cancer every day, adding up to 12,500 each year. More than 2,000 of these children do not survive.

Sims, who lost his daughter Janie to leukemia, founded the Janie Sims Children’s Foundation.

“There are a number of success stories (for children with cancer),” Sims said. “But there are people like me and Mrs. Joyner who lost children to cancer. We need to let people know about what they can do.”

More information about the license plates and the sponsoring organizations can be found online at www.curingchildhoodcancer.org.

“These tags can be renewed each year, which means we can be helping to find a cure for cancer for decades to come,” Sims said.