A childhood cancer success story

Port Washington author, whose book has raised more than $50,000 for research, enlists the help of a cuddly friend in an effort to double that amount

PORT WASHINGTON resident Joe Dean’s book, “A Dog Named Hope,” which was illustrated by Lauren Curwick, has raised more than $50,000 for childhood cancer research and support (left photo). A stuffed puppy named Hope that’s designed as a companion to the book was recently produced and is being sold to raise funds for the fight against childhood cancer. Press file photo at left
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

It’s amazing what a dog can do.

In Joe Dean’s case, his book “A Dog Named Hope” has raised more than $50,000 for childhood cancer research and support during the past two years.

And that amount’s sure to climb with the release of a stuffed “Hope” dog that will not only compliment the book but also be a companion for youngsters.

“Our dream was always to do a companion puppy,” Dean said. “We felt the dog in the book was so adorable it would be great to bring it to life.”

While Dean wrote the story of Hope and its owner, a girl named Lindsay who is being treated for leukemia, the dog and other illustrations in the book were done by Lauren Curwick, who based Hope on her Yorkie Bella. 

“The No. 1 descriptor we’ve gotten is ‘adorable,’” Dean said in describing the dog.

The stuffed animal, much like the book, is intended to help children diagnosed with cancer. It has a belly pouch in which a warm or cold gel pack can be inserted.

“When kids hug the dog, it gives them some relief,” Dean said.

The plush dog, much like the book, has been popular since it was introduced two months ago, Dean said, with sales spurred by word of mouth and social media.

And, like the book, the We Energies Foundation and the Port-Saukville Rotary Club have underwritten the cost, allowing all the proceeds to be donated to the MACC Fund and Designing Dreams, a foundation operated by Curwick that redesigns bedrooms for childhood cancer patients — important because these young people spend so much time in their bedrooms.

The book has been popular, Dean said, noting that he’s sent copies to people in Guam, Germany and Australia as well as across the U.S.

“It’s been well received,” he said, noting the book has received two national awards that have helped spur sales.

And, he said, “we’ve noticed the dogs are reigniting book sales.”

Dean’s providing the books and stuffed animals to cancer patients. Just last week, he dropped off about 50 of them at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin for patients there. 

“As they need them, we’re on call,” he said.

The books and stuffed animals each sell for $25, or they can be purchased together for $40. 

The goal, said Dean, is to contribute more than $100,000 to childhood cancer research by the end of this year.

To accomplish that, he said, they are embarking on a partnership with Marcus Theaters, which will screen an animated public service announcement about the book and animal before all movies in its theaters from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

The Hope dog will also be featured in posters in the lobby of the theaters with information on how to purchase it and the book.

“We’re thrilled that more than one million people will see it and become aware of what’s happening,” said Dean, who became an advocate for childhood cancer research after working as an advisor to Sen. Ron Johnson and meeting with groups dedicated to fighting the disease.

The children fighting cancer and their parents are inspiring, Dean said.

“That’s when it really gets powerful, when you meet these people and hear their stories,” he said. “They’re great kids and great families fighting the great fight.”

They have a lot in common with the veterans Dean said he came in contact with through the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

“They have a lot of the same attributes — courage, optimism, selflessness,” he said. “We are more and more inspired by these kids.”

While his ultimate goal is to see an end to childhood cancer, Dean said that isn’t the only goal with the Hope book and animal.

“Our goal is ultimately to bring hope to kids,” he said. “It seems to be working.”

Copies of the dog and book may be purchased at Port Washington businesses such as Pear and Simple and BMO Harris Bank, Dean said, or online at www.mydognamedhope.com.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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