Legislation redirects money from politicians to sick children

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) — A Henrico family who has worked tirelessly for more medical research funding for children with life threatening diseases is receiving an early Christmas present.

Legislation just passed the U.S. House and now makes its way to the Senate that takes money away from politicians and directs it to sick children instead.

Blowing out the candles on his 5th birthday cake, Nicholas LaGanke probably isn’t wishing for the same thing his mother is.

Nicholas’ mother, Traci, says her son dreams of playing with firetrucks and his older brother. Traci says she simply hopes that her young son lives a long, healthy and one day, independent life.

“What’s going to happen to my child when I’m not here, when I’m no longer around to care for him?” LaGanke says.

Nicholas has Down Syndrome, a medical condition that drastically increases his chances of heart defects, Leukemia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

For most of their son’s life, Nicholas’ parents have been fighting for more medical research for children with Down Syndrome and other life-threatening diseases by educating lawmakers on the current funding levels for pediatric research and the lack of resources for parents.

“We want to make sure we surround him and protect him,” Traci LaGanke says.

The LaGankes met with lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle, including U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, (R) Henrico. Despite strong differences in Congress on several issues, the medical research funding legislation seemed to generate strong bipartisan support.

“Can’t we put down the battle axes for something like this?” Cantor pleaded with fellow lawmakers just prior to a vote on December 11th.

In a 295-103 vote, The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the “Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act.”

The legislation terminates funding for political party conventions and redirects 126 million dollars over the next ten years to pediatric medical research at the National Institutes of Health through the NIH Common Fund. It prioritizes taxpayer funding for scientific research of pediatric diseases such as cancer, autism, Fragile X and Down Syndrome.

The bill is named for Gabriella Miller, a 10-year-old Leesburg Virginia girl, who died from brain cancer this past fall.

“My biggest fear is some really little child is going to die before they have to, and then that I’m going to die,” Gabriella said.

In her short life, Gabriella tirelessly fought for stronger medical research funding.

In an emotional last interview for a documentary with “Truth 365,” Gabriella said, “If I die and I lose my battle, I want other people to carry on. They’re going to win this war and I’ll be with my friends in a good place.”

It was the plea of this little girl and the urging of other families like the LaGanke’s that prompted Majority Leader Eric Cantor to push the legislation through.

Earlier this summer, Cantor attended the Special Olympic Games in Richmond to show his support for the LaGanke family and to learn more about their plight.

“Nicholas is such an unbelievably bright young man,” Cantor said.

Despite the pouring down rain that cancelled the games, Nicholas and his older brother competed anyway, splashing through puddles and laughing while hugging.

“Whatever Nicholas wants to be when he grows up, I want to be that too,” said Jacob LaGanke. “So we can never be separated.”

That dream, Traci LaGanke says, now appears a little closer to reality because of new medical funding for pediatric research.

“Jacob’s prayer everyday is ‘please let him speak clear when he grows up,’” LaGanke says. “That’s his biggest desire, for his brother to talk.”

Their mom says just so they can share secrets and dreams for a future together.

“There’s so many it’s going to impact,” LaGanke said.


  • BeenJonesed

    Just more political pandering for show and production purposes.
    Those empowered to rule the purse strings will always serve
    self first, some way, some how. They will just hide it.

  • Cindy Smith

    In the present state of our political environment I can certainly understand the comment made by BeenJonesed and the cynicism being felt by this individual. However, could you just believe for once this group of politicians being led by House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor and members of Congress, democrats and republicans alike actually took a vote using their hearts. Each person that voted for this bill more than likely have children, grandchildren or someone they love very much that could benefit from this bill. I have met Mr. Cantor and I believe he has a genuine love for children and works tirelessly to help bring a better future for all of them regardless of how their parents might vote. I commend each Congressman that voted for this bill and how they worked together as Americans to see that children will be helped. I hope our lawmakers in the
    Senate will do the same thing.

  • M.L. Adams

    “…The legislation terminates funding for political party conventions…”

    What in the world was the American taxpaying public doing financing political party conventions?

    What needs to be done is for the candidates of all Federal offices to be paid, by the government, X amount of dollars to be used for campaigns…period! No outside donations allowed, no donated ads! Then maybe elections would be decided on the merit of the candidates rather than being bought outright by the depth of the pockets of a few supporters!

  • dan

    really.how about they donate a years salary to it then.Yes a years,then they can bow.just their salary,they can keep all their kick backs

  • Eric Futterman

    This year along Eric Cantor said Veterans, children, people with disabilities and the working poor could learn work ethic if he denied them their $5 a day for nutrition assistance. The man has voted to give himself more than $1 million in tax cuts over the last 12 years, two months of vacations and reimbursement for his cocktails during travel.

    He voted to put two wars, Medicare Part D and his families enormous tax cuts on the nation’s credit card.

    And he shut down the government and twice took us to the brink of default.

    This is PR gesture is a tiny drop in an ocean of greed and disservice to the 7th District.

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