The Kourtney Rose Foundation

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By Pam Teel

Kortney Rose Gillette was a vibrant nine year old who loved playing with her friends and stuffed animals. She loved school and her classmates, loved playing soccer and basketball but her favorite thing to do was go to amusement parks and waterslides. She was a typical child enjoying her youth but sadly her life was cut short when doctors discovered Kortney had a brain tumor.

Kortney started to get headaches and her mom noticed one of her eyes was crossed. She took her daughter to an optometrist who decided to do an MRI. Two weeks later the family got the devastating news that they found an inoperable tumor in her brain. Four months after her diagnosis, Kortney passed away.

As a way to help channel the grief Kortney’s parents felt after losing their daughter, they decided to do some- thing positive in her memory. They started the Courtney Rose Foundation in hopes to make a difference in the fight to find better treatments and ultimately a cure for pediatric brain tumors.

The Kortney Rose Foundation is a 501(c) (3) charity created by Kortney’s parents, after her death in 2006 from a rare brain tumor, to create her legacy of helping other children through the promise of research. Since inception the foundation has built a playground in Kortney’s name, is responsible for over $2 million to the pediatric brain tumor research program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and helped es- tablish its world-class Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium ( The foundation was also instrumental in passing Legislation naming May as Brain Tumor Awareness Month in the State of New Jersey.

Kortney’s challenge continues to grow and raise funding for Pediatric Brain Tumor research with a Record Num-
ber of Teams Helping to Boost Participation. August 9th, 2019, in Oceanport, N.J., the Kortney Rose Foundation
announced its most successful Kortney’s Challenge 2 Mile Fun Run/Walk at Monmouth Park ever. With a new venue in the Grotto Beer Garden, a new course, and perfect weather, the 14th annual event set records with nearly 650 participants and over $99,000 raised. They came very close to meeting their goal of $100,000.

The money raised at Kortney’s Challenge at Monmouth Park, directly benefits collaborative research efforts to find better treatments and cures for pediatric brain tumors. The KRF was a primary funder of the world-class Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium (CBTTC) and the first of its kind pediatric ge- nomic data cloud called Cavatica. Both are operated out of the Center for Data Driven Discovery in Biomedicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). The funds from this event will build upon the over $2 million that KRF is responsible for donating to research over the past 12 years.

The KRF would not be able to hold their two annual signature events without the generous support of their Pink Rose Partners, Monmouth Park Racetrack and Turning Point Restaurants. They are ever so grateful to Monmouth Park for being a partner with them over the past 12 years for Kortney’s Challenge. KRF held its first Kortney’s Challenge event 14 years ago. In that time, the event has raised over $500,000 for pediatric brain tumor research.

“KRF only supports researchers/institutions that are working collaboratively sharing specimens and data through the CBTTC and the pediatric genomic cloud, Cavatica, that we helped to Fund,” stated Kristen Gillette, Founder/Executive Director of The Kortney Rose Foundation. In addition Gillette stated, “With less than 4% of the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) annual research budget spent on all childhood cancer research, only 4 drugs have been developed for use in childhood cancers over the last 30 years.”

In attendance and speaking at Kortney’s Challenge, was Jena Lilly, Director of Operations & Strategic Planning for The Center for Data Driven Discovery in Biomedicine at CHOP, who stated that in just nine years, the consortium that KRF helped establish has grown to include 17 institutions from around the world striving to improve genomic-driven therapeutic approaches for children with brain tumors and beyond.”

Kortney’s Challenge kicked off with the national anthem sung by brain tumor survivor, twenty three year old Brett Roysdon. Several longtime supporters of KRF were honored including Donna Singer and Joanne Fink of Fyzical Therapy and Balance Center, Pauline and Scott Poyner of Heritage House Sotheby’s International Realty, Mark Montgomery of Ports America, and Mike and Melody Minervini.

In the finish area, Gillette honored the Team Run BFE (Best Family Ever) captain, Melanie Tindall with two awards for the largest number of participants on a team; 72 and the team that raised the most in donations; nearly $10,000. Team Ludri was recognized with the Team Spirit Award and Ava-Jordan Kassinger, a second grader from Deane Porter School in Rumson, was awarded as the winner of the T-shirt design contest. Gillette also recognized Dr.Adam Resnick and Jena Lilly from CHOP in honor of their passion to find answers for kids with brain/central nervous system tumors. A large group of riders from the Blue Nights NewJerseyXV International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club led out the race field and welcomed them back.

A new finish area venue welcomed the largest expo area ever with 12 vendor tents handing out many free items. Children enjoyed attractions including tattoos, face painting, crafts, balloon animals, games and a visit from Dr. Bernard from Hackensack Meridian’s “Pawsitive” Action Team. Many participants enjoyed lunch in the Grotto Beer Garden, attended the Day at the Races picnic event, and stayed for Race #2 which was run in honor of The KRF. All of the jockeys in this race wore pink helmet covers to signify the foundation’s colors of pink and purple.

One of the younger contestants showing her medal!

The Kortney Rose Foundation – 41 Summerfield Avenue, Oceanport, NJ 07757 (732-222-1491)

Contact: Kristen Gillette • Founder/Executive Director • The Kortney Rose Foundation • • https://thekortneyrosefoundation. org/donate/

For event details or to schedule an interview, please contact Kristen Gillette at (732) 222-1491 or