In Memory of Lionel Chaiken, Race for Hope Co-Founder

December 14, 2018

Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2) and the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) mourn the passing of Lionel Chaiken. Lionel was a founder of the Race for Hope – DC and it’s most committed and successful fundraiser, having raised over half a million dollars single-handedly. Our thoughts are with the Chaiken family. 

In 1997, Lionel and Sandy Chaiken, along with Dana Daczkowski and Nike Beddow, founded the Race for Hope - DC. The Chaikens had recently lost their daughter Pamela to brain cancer and Dana was battling a recurrence of her anaplastic astrocytoma tumor. The two families wanted to generate awareness about the dire need for new, effective treatments as well as raise funds to drive new research into this devastating disease. They knew they couldn't do it alone, and thus enlisted friends, family, and co-workers to join the fight. After deciding on a 5k to raise funds, they began searching for a sponsor. Thankfully, Duron Paints came through with a check that helped to establish the Race for Hope. Lionel never wavered in his commitment to the Race, raising significant funds even after he was too frail to attend.
“Lionel was my friend. My sister Dana, who was battling brain cancer, introduced me to Lionel and Sandy. I will miss him dearly for his compassion, his humor, and his relentless drive to raise funds and awareness to improve the lives of brain cancer patients. Lionel was our true leader and champion of the Race for Hope. Now he is reunited up in heaven with his beloved daughter Pamela Sue. Together, they will continue to inspire us.” Nike Beddow, Race for Hope co-founder and ABC2 Director of Communications and Partnerships
“Lionel Chaiken, our fearless leader, our in-house Rainmaker, our “organize your teams and get out the word” fundraiser, was my friend for over 22 years. Lionel and I met at the beginning of my own journey of having been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Lionel was the guy who could get scores of people involved, and participate in a caring, selfless way for those they loved. I will miss my friend, our talks, our journeys, and our shared fondness for giving to those ‘walks’ of life which cannot be taken for granted.” Vanessa Lemme, brain tumor survivor
Lionel often reached out to his networks the old-fashioned way - with letters and phone calls, refusing to take no for an answer. His mantra was, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” His wisdom and motivation will be sorely missed by all involved in the Race for Hope but will inspire us to push forward with our mission to find a cure. Twenty-one years and over $30 million later, the Race for Hope is now the largest brain tumor race in the world. The money we've raised has been used to fund research that is accelerating the development of new, effective treatments, including the drug Avastin, a variety of brain cancer vaccines, as well as genomic profiling that is driving personalized therapies. With heavy hearts and extraordinary gratitude, we express our condolences to Lionel’s wife Sandy and daughter Stephanie who were always by his side. The best way for us to honor Lionel’s memory is for the Race for Hope to continue to raise funds to find a cure for brain cancer which honors Lionel’s lifelong commitment in memory of “Angel Pam” and all the other loved ones lost to a brain tumor.