Babble On Communications

Babble On Communications

August 11, 2005 08:40 ET

Tom Hanks, Disney and "Space Mouse" Help Canada's James Fund

Book About James Now at Select Chapters, Indigo and Attention: Arts/Entertainment Editor, Books Editor, Health/Medical Editor, Lifestyle Editor, News Editor TORONTO--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 11, 2005) - The James Fund, Canada's leading fund in the fight against neuroblastoma, the most deadly form of childhood cancer, has the ear of some pretty big supporters -- and the support of some pretty big ears. In New York on September 27, 2005, Sotheby's and The Walt Disney Company will conclude the celebration of Mickey Mouse's 75th anniversary by auctioning 75 uniquely-designed statues of Mickey, including "Space Mouse," which was designed by actor Tom Hanks. All proceeds from the sale of "Space Mouse" will benefit The James Fund for Neuroblastoma Research at Sick Kids Hospital. Tom Hanks is the James Fund's Honorary Patron.

Hanks and James Birrell befriended each other over the course of several phone conversations and letters before James died 3 ½ years ago at the age of 8. They shared a fascination about space and Hanks starred in James' favourite movie, "Apollo 13," the true story of three astronauts who battled incredible odds to make it back home when all seemed lost. "Space Mouse" was designed with James in mind.

"We're very grateful for the ongoing support of our Honourary Patron Tom Hanks and now Disney as we look for a cure for this terrible disease," said Syd Birrell, father of James and James' siblings Rebecca (13) and Ben (9). "In a perfect world, it would be a Canadian company or person that would purchase 'Space Mouse' and donate it to Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital for future generations of children to enjoy," Birrell continued, "but wherever 'Space Mouse' ends up, it will endure as a legacy to James' love of fun, adventure and his commitment to fighting neuroblastoma."

"When I have to make the choice, it will always be to keep battling cancer," James once said. "I am not giving up!" Of the Fund that bears his name, he said, "With all this
experimenting, they'll get it figured out and then all the kids with neuroblastoma will be able to survive." Those words have galvanized the team of James Fund scientists as they work towards a day when no child will suffer the horrors of this disease, which claims a child somewhere in North America every sixteen hours.

James' remarkable and spirited fight against neuroblastoma is the subject of an uplifting and inspiring book by his father Syd called "Ya Can't Let Cancer Ruin Your Day." With a foreword by Tom Hanks, the book is the collection of journals Syd wrote and shared via email throughout James' five-year illness, chronicling not only James' fight against cancer, but also the extraordinary adventures they shared as a family as they tried to pack as much living into the very short time they had left with James.

The book, which was released just a few weeks ago with the generous support of the pharmaceutical company MDS Nordion, has sold briskly despite the fact that it had been available only over the internet ( As of today, however, the book is now additionally available at select Chapters and Indigo stores and also available for order on ($19.93, the year of James' birth). A portion of the proceeds from each book benefits The James Fund.

"Space Mouse," as do each of the 75 statues, stands about 6 feet tall and weighs about 700 pounds. Combined, they are expected to raise in excess of $1million US for approximately 50 worthy causes. For more information on the charity auction, visit For a complete list of statues, artists and charities associated with this auction, or to download high-resolution images of the statues, visit

The James Fund (JF) was established at Sick Kids Foundation by the family of James Birrell to generate knowledge leading to new therapies for the treatment of patients with neuroblastoma. It has rapidly grown to be Canada's leading neuroblastoma research initiative and actor Tom Hanks is its Honorary Patron. To date, nine research projects have been funded, six papers published, a drug-testing unit has been established and several international collaborations are underway bringing new hope to the parents of children suffering from this terrible childhood cancer.


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  • Susan McLennan, Babble On Communications
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