In 2017 Christian Houghtaling was diagnosed with a rare subtype of Leukemia called Hypodiploid Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). At the time of his diagnosis, Christian was a bright, talented, 14-year-old Loyalsock Township High School Freshman. Although he was treated at some of the top medical facilities in the country, including Geisinger, Johns Hopkins, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Christian passed away on May 16th, 2019, at the age of 17 after bravely battling his illness for over two years.
“Christian was so quick-witted and had an amazing sense of humor. He was very intelligent as well. From the time he was two years old, he’d be putting together these huge puzzles. He loved spending time with family and friends. He loved learning and was very talented artistically,” said his mother, Nicole Bower.
Throughout Christian’s illness, he continued to fundraise for childhood cancer research through St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, which is the leading researcher for childhood Hypodiploid Leukemia. “Because St. Jude’s is the main researcher for Christian’s illness, we consulted with them for his treatment. During that time, we all recognized how rapid changes in treatment and research were coming about. There were new research trials all the time,” said Nicole. “Christian knew that St. Jude’s was where any money raised would make the greatest impact. That his life may have been saved if research was further along. He knew that this research would make a difference and might save the lives of other kids with the same illness. So, Christian’s desire to help raise funds started as a Facebook campaign where he would ask people to give to St. Jude’s on his birthday.”
“After Christian’s passing, we started The Christian Houghtaling Foundation to not only provide a Loyalsock High School Senior with a college scholarship but to continue to provide research money for high-risk childhood Leukemia,” said Nicole. “Every dollar we receive goes directly to Dr. Mullighan’s lab at St. Jude’s, who is one of the only doctors in the world researching Christian’s rare leukemia.”
According to its website, the Mullighan Lab studies constellations of inherited and acquired genetic changes that drive acute lymphoblastic Leukemia and related disorders. The Mulligan Lab at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital works to identify these changes and define their molecular mechanisms. They then used genomic technologies and large patient groups, along with experimental and preclinical modeling. Their ultimate goal is to translate their discoveries into advances in cancer diagnosis and therapy to improve the cure rates for Hypodiploid Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and related cancers. The Mulligan Laboratory makes all of its reagents, models, and data available to the research community.
“Since Christian’s diagnosis in 2017, many discoveries and treatments have been made and modified thanks to this vital research,” said Nicole. “Last year, after our first annual Christian Houghtaling Foundation Golf Tournament, I was able to write a $13,000 check to Dr. Mullighan’s lab. We hope to surpass that amount this year. No other area nonprofits work directly with a doctor doing this research where 100% of the money raised goes to make sure children like Christian go on to live healthy lives and see their dreams become reality!” The Christian Houghtaling Foundation Golf Tournament will be held at noon on June 2nd at Hemlock Creek in Bloomsburg. The foundation is seeking both sponsors and players. The price is $400 per foursome, and sponsorship prices vary. Checks should be made payable to the Christian Houghtaling Foundation and mailed to Nicole Bower, 2041 Sheridan St., Williamsport, Pa 17701. Please contact Nicole Bower at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.