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Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey make donation to Riley Hospital for Children

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is donating $10,000 to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health to support local pediatric cancer patients. In addition to the check presentation, Ringling Bros. performers will bring laughter and joy to children and families with a visit to the Simon Family Tower Main Lobby on Thursday, Dec. 3, 10:30 a.m.

“At Ringling Bros., we focus on entertaining families and giving back to the communities where we perform every week. In addition to the financial contributions made by Ringling Bros., we will be bringing our performers directly to the hospitals to entertain families who aren’t able to make it to the show,” said Alana Feld, Executive Vice President of Feld Entertainment and Producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.  

The Friday, Dec. 4 performance of Ringling Bros. Presents Circus XTREME! playing at Bankers Life Fieldhouse will be dedicated to honoring Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and 100 special hospital guests. Ringling Bros. will also be raising awareness at this performance of the national cancer research being conducted by Dr. Joshua Schiffman, M.D. who is studying DNA from Ringling Bros. elephants and comparing it to DNA from his patients with cancer. Scientists are studying why there is such a low incidence of cancer in elephants, what makes this cancer resistance possible in elephants and not in humans, and how this may correlate to new treatments for pediatric cancers.

In the United States, more than 16,000 children and teenagers are diagnosed with cancer annually—an average of 43 new diagnoses each day—while elephants experience almost no cancer over their lifetimes. Pediatric Oncologist Dr. Schiffman and the team from Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, the Department of Pediatrics and Huntsman Cancer Institute, all in Salt Lake City, Utah along with  Dr. Dennis Schmitt, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Chair of Veterinary Services and Director of Research; and Dr. Wendy Kiso, Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation Research and Conservation Scientist; and other scientific collaborators; recently confirmed that elephants rarely develop cancer with a mortality rate of less than 5 percent compared to up to 25 percent in humans. Looking at the elephant genome, they described that elephants have 40 copies of a tumor suppressor gene named TP53 compared to only two copies in humans.

Elephant DNA is instrumental to this research, and Dr. Schiffman needed a diverse gene pool to effectively study to species. Because the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation has the largest herd of Asian elephants in the Western Hemisphere, the Feld Family felt compelled to help support this research. The incredible bond the Center for Elephant Conservation staff has with these majestic animals, and the hands-on care provided at the Center, allows our veterinarians to easily provide the blood samples Dr. Schiffman needs to further his research.

In a total of 50 cities, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will donate $10,000 to a local children’s hospital or treatment center and the Ringling Bros. Children’s Fund will match each donation with an additional $10,000 to the Primary Children’s Hospital Foundation to support their Pediatric Cancer Research Program. Locally, this grant will help fund pediatric cancer research at Riley Hospital for Children, which sees 80 percent of all children in Indiana diagnosed with cancer.

“Twenty years ago, we founded the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant for Conservation in order to preserve the endangered Asian elephant for future generations. Little did we know then that they may hold the key to cancer treatment and we’re tremendously excited to be a part of it,” said Kenneth Feld, Chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment.

About Riley Children’s Foundation
Riley Children’s Foundation supports Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, Camp Riley and the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home. As Indiana’s only comprehensive hospital dedicated exclusively to the care of children, Riley Hospital has provided compassionate care, support and comfort to children and their families since 1924. Each year children from all 92 Indiana counties turn to Riley Hospital and its regional clinics throughout the state more than 300,000 times. Riley Hospital’s partnership with Indiana University Health and its strong affiliation with the Indiana University School of Medicine make Riley Hospital the leader in pediatric care in the state and the region. For more information, visit RileyKids.org.

About Feld Entertainment
Feld Entertainment is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that lift the human spirit and create indelible memories, with 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment's productions have appeared in more than 75 countries and on six continents to date and include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice Presented by StonyfieldYoKids Organic Yogurt, Disney Live! Presented by StonyfieldYoKids Organic Yogurt and Marvel Universe LIVE! More information about Feld Entertainment is available online at www.feldentertainment.com. More information on the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation is available at www.ringlingelephantcenter.com.

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