Brake-through for Breast Cancer

Two years ago, friends Laura Frank, owner of Auto Repair Technology in Brook Park, and Leigh Anne Best, marketing manager for Mighty Auto Pro in Medina, were chatting over dinner about the work of Vincent K. Tuohy, PhD, Department of Immunology. Ms. Best had heard about Dr. Tuohy from a mutual friend (whose son works on Dr. Tuohy’s research team) and was fascinated by his work to develop a breast cancer vaccine. She knew that Dr. Tuohy had shown promising breast cancer immunoprevention results in the laboratory, but had not yet received sufficient funding for clinical trials in humans. Ms. Best and Mrs. Frank, whose mother was undergoing cancer treatment, decided they wanted to help—and the Brakes for Breasts program was born.

Brakes for Breasts is a grassroots program in which independent auto repair shops donate a percentage of their brake service profits to Dr. Tuohy’s breast cancer research. In the first year, they raised $10,000. Today, Brakes for Breasts has grown to 26 family-owned auto repair shops in 17 states, and earlier this month, Ms. Best, Mrs. Frank and three other Brakes for Breasts members presented Dr. Tuohy with a check for $32,848.84. At the check presentation, Dr. Tuohy thanked the group and discussed with them the history of cancer immunoprevention studies and the status of his research. He also emphasized the importance of individual gifts in supporting it: “You all have a hand in our work,” he said.

Paul E. DiCorleto, PhD, Sherwin-Page Chair, and Nelson J. Wittenmyer Jr., Esq., Vice Chair, Philanthropy Institute, joined Dr. Tuohy in thanking the Brakes for Breasts group. Dr. DiCorleto assured the group that moving this vaccine to clinical trials is a top priority of the Lerner Research Institute and Cleveland Clinic, and Mr. Wittenmyer said he has “never seen the level of community support” that Dr. Tuohy’s work has inspired.