A national research grant program named for a Saratoga Springs boy who died in 2001 has funded more than $1.7 million in brain tumor research, including $250,000 in grants that were just announced.
The Billy Grey Research Grants are awarded by the National Brain Tumor Society of Watertown, Mass., where Billy’s father, Ken Grey, sits on the board of directors.
“We try to fund the best of the best,” said Grey, of Saratoga Springs, who is president of Marshall & Sterling Insurance Upstate.
The National Brain Tumor Society is devoted to brain tumor research and related public policy issues. It awards between $2 million and $4.5 million for research annually, including the Billy Grey Research Grants.
This week, the society announced new Billy Grey grants. There was a $200,000 award to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s Developmental Biology Program, and a $50,000 grant to the University of Alabama-Birmingham’s Radiation Oncology Brain Tumor Laboratory. Both are conducting what the society believes is promising treatment research.
Billy Grey died of glioblastoma muliforme — a highly aggressive brain tumor — on July 13, 2001, just short of his 13th birthday. He had been a student and athlete at Albany Academy before his diagnosis in 1999.
His parents, Ken and Cherie Grey of Saratoga Springs, have devoted time to fundraising for research ever since his diagnosis. Ken Grey began going to a National Brain Tumor Society cycling fundraiser in Boston soon after the diagnosis.
“I like to cycle. I wanted to do something. We felt pretty helpless, to be honest with you,” Grey said.
Since 2005, the Greys have held an annual May bicycling fundraiser in Saratoga Springs. The Billy Grey Ride and Walk for Research has raised about $750,000 to date.
Last year’s event had about 600 participants and raised $86,000, Grey said.
This year’s event will be Sunday, May 19, with 10-, 25- and 50-mile rides throughout Saratoga County, and a three-mile through Saratoga Springs. The ride starts in High Rock Park.