When they lost their 5-year-old son Joshua to a rare brain cancer, Labrina and Trent Solomon decided information and awareness would lessen the hurdles other families like them faced. Joshua liked to bring people together and the Solomons wanted to find a way to serve their Macon, Ga. community by shedding light on obscure forms of childhood brain cancers. They would do both through a foundation they named Joshua’s Wish. It was established in January of 2010, a month before Joshua would have turned 6.
Since its inception, Joshua’s Wish has focused on raising awareness and money for brain cancer research, and particularly DIPG. The organization has done so with a host of events before the Covid-19 pandemic, including silent auctions, dinner and dances on Joshua’s birthday every February, 5K walks and runs and food and toy drives during the holidays.
Over the last decade, Joshua’s Wish has raised more than $173,000 for the St. Jude brain tumor program, where some of the world’s leading scientists, biologists and doctors work together to develop treatment and search for cures by studying how both normal and harmful cells grow.
To encourage undergraduate college students to pursue a career in biomedical and brain cancer research Joshua’s Wish also offers two $5,000 summer internship awards. The award is open to students from institutions across the United States and Canada. The foundation has awarded 17 awards so far.
Along the way, their fundraising events – even as they’ve turned virtual during the Covid-19 pandemic – have stitched together a community of supporters made up of church members, other families affected by childhood cancer and even celebrities from Macon-area television news stations and beauty pageants.
Labrina and Trent hadn’t anticipated that their loss could help grow community, but they say they feel Joshua’s hand in this.
“When I do this work, I see that Joshua’s life, short as it was, wasn’t in vain. It had purpose and it continues to give us purpose,” Labrina said.