MISSION: The Children’s Cancer Foundation is committed to funding locally-based researchers, programs and facilities until every child is assured a healthy cancer-free future.

Our Beginning

In the early 1980’s, Shirley Howard’s early interactions with young cancer patients and their families in the Baltimore area impacted her deeply. These courageous families inspired her to dedicate her life’s work to improving the lives of young patients battling childhood cancer. When Shirley visited local hospitals, there were no child and family-friendly areas designed to treat children with cancer. That was about to change.

How the CCF mission came to be

Shirley Howard also learned that young pediatric cancer researchers often abandoned their passion to work in the field because there were so few grants and funding sources in this specialty.

Shirley recognized that it was tough to get started in research without grant dollars. She thought, “What if I could fund some of these researchers?” And so, with the goal of investing in research, improving facilities and creating programs designed to treat pediatric cancer patients, the concept for CCF was born. In 1983, The Children’s Cancer Foundation, Inc. (CCF) was incorporated with Shirley serving as President.

Shirley Howard, CCF Founder, 1925-2013

First Steps with Facilities

With Shirley at the helm, CCF quite literally changed the face of pediatric cancer treatment in Baltimore and D.C.– funding renovations, new equipment, new laboratories, and play spaces.

The dream began to take shape as CCF helped fund the original inpatient facilities at Johns Hopkins, at the time when the Division of Pediatric Oncology was formed.

Other area treatment or outpatient spaces were funded over the years:

  • University of Maryland Medical Center Treatment Rooms and Outpatient Area
  • The Children’s Cancer Foundation Play Area in the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Oncology Outpatient Center (1998).
  • Shirley Howard Pediatric Oncology Inpatient Unit at the Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai (2012). At its opening event, Dr. Joseph Wiley, Chief of Pediatric Oncology at the time, recognized that “The Children’s Cancer Foundation has been the most important charity for childhood cancer in our region.”
  • Family and Patient Waiting and Play Areas and, in 2013, the cutting-edge Shirley and William Howard Cellular Therapies Laboratory at Children’s National Medical Center
  • Outpatient Facilities at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • In 2023, CCF completed its $5 million pledge to complete the Pediatric Oncology Inpatient Unit in the Children’s Tower at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
mission and history facilities

Creating opportunity for young researchers

Federal dollars allocated for pediatric cancer research have been historically low, typically justified by the number of children vs. adults being diagnosed with cancer. As researchers applied to receive early research funding from CCF, it became clear how essential but significantly underfunded innovative pediatric oncology research was. With Shirley’s vision, CCF understood that funding research in the early stages would lead to treatments, clinical trials and cures. One early investment was in Jeffrey Toretsky, M.D., beginning in 1995 for his research on Ewing Sarcoma. He is one of many researchers who’ve made breakthroughs in treatment. Read more

Addressing the comprehensive needs of children

Shirley recognized that there were additional challenges for children requiring treatment- they needed regular access to the facilities for months at a time, and incentives for children to endure the often grueling and tedious treatment protocols.

The Children’s Inn at NIH opened in 1990 and Shirley ensured that CCF was invested from the start. CCF was the 2nd largest contributor to the building and establishment of the Inn. The Inn was, and continues today, to act as a “home away from home” on the NIH campus for families with children fighting cancers and other rare serious conditions, who are being treated at NIH.

For the University of Maryland’s Department of Radiation Oncology, CCF established the Magic Castle program for young cancer patients about to start months of involved cancer treatment in 1997. For this program, a child writes three wishes for items or activities they would like, write them on a piece of paper and leave them at the door of a scale model of a castle, knowing that at the end of the treatment, they will receive one of their wishes. This program continues today and is now located in the lobby of the Maryland Proton Treatment Center, which opened its doors in 2016.

CCF is honored to annually support several crucial support programs for children fighting cancer.

A young patient opens her wish of a play castle.


The Legacy Continues

Shirley remained Executive Director of CCF, a title and a promise that she held until her death in 2013 at age 88. Diane Perry, Shirley’s daughter lovingly stepped in to serve as CCF’s Executive Director from August 2013 – November 2014. Read more…


New Leadership

Tasha Museles has served as President since 2019 and before that served as CCF’s Executive Director since 2014.

CCF’s Board of Directors has both new and longtime board members, many of whom were involved with CCF during Shirley’s tenure.

Shirley’s work, vision, commitment and legacy continues through the work of these and many other dedicated individuals.

CCF Giant Food NextGen Grant

Established in 2013, this grant reflected Giant Food and CCF’s shared commitment to fund promising young pediatric cancer researchers, and to support their professional development. Read more…


1st Annual CCF Research Symposium

CCF organized the first CCF Research Symposium.


40th Anniversary

CCF’s 40th Anniversary of its founding.

Read more about the programs and research CCF funds today.