From campus to Capitol

Mizzou MoreThan4 advocates for pediatric cancer research.

Sofia Ortiz (left) and Erin Drummond (right) traveled to Washington, D.C., this spring to speak with Missouri legislators about the challenges facing families dealing with pediatric cancer.

May 15, 2024

As Erin Drummond worked her way around Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress from Missouri, she brought along a stack of physically small but symbolically massive flyers. 

Each handout contained photos of several young children who have battled pediatric cancer — including Drummond’s sister Julia, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of 3. Drummond was only 12 years old at the time, but the gravity of that experience inspired her to make a difference. 

“I was able to give those pictures to each representative and senator that we met, and it was incredibly meaningful to bring with me so many of the kids who I’ve watched suffer through cancer and pass away from cancer,” she said. “It humanizes the whole situation.” 

Drummond, a senior health science major at the University of Missouri, has worked for more than a decade to bring awareness and raise funds for pediatric cancer research. After coming to Mizzou for her undergraduate studies, she founded Mizzou MoreThan4, a student club that stems from a larger movement advocating on behalf of children suffering from cancer. 

Drummond and Sofia Ortiz, a junior health science major and vice president of Mizzou MoreThan4, were among more than 220 advocates who recently traveled to Washington, D.C., for the 14th Annual Alliance for Childhood Cancer Action Days. They spoke with Missouri lawmakers to raise awareness of pediatric cancer and encourage them to support funding and legislation that would help families impacted by the disease.

The time in Washington was such a great experience that Drummond said they hope to send four Mizzou students to next year’s iteration of the event as well.  

“I always dreamed of being able to like pull together a community of people and advocate on behalf of pediatric cancer patients,” she said. “To finally be able to do that was literally a dream come true.” 

Since starting Mizzou MoreThan4 in January 2023, Drummond has watched the club’s membership grow from a handful of members to more than 150 students. The organization has contributed thousands of dollars’ worth of items to families affected by pediatric cancer locally and throughout Missouri.

“We’re currently trying to sponsor three local families in the Columbia area who are in really desperate financial need,” Ortiz said. “Although we can’t completely alleviate that pain, we can do small things to make it better.”

Read more from the College of Health Sciences

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