The Carrot Seed Foundation was established by Mark and Mary Ellen Unger to help fund pediatric cancer research, clinical trials, pediatric oncology nursing scholarships and other causes that help families overcome the hardship of battling Neuroblastoma. Funds donated to the foundation are distributed to a range of charities that we support due to their on-going efforts in fighting Neuroblastoma. In 2017 funds were donated to Make A Wish, The Band of Parents and Memorial Sloan Kettering. In the long term, we will continue to search for similar charities as well as other causes that meet the criteria of our mission statement. If you would like to learn more, please contact us.
The name of the foundation, Carrot Seed, is based upon the children’s book written in 1945 Ruth Krauss. Mary Ellen read this book to Louis all the time and it was a source of continued inspiration. It is about a young boy who plants a carrot seed in his yard. Over time his parents, brother and all his friends tell him it will never grow. But the boy was determined and kept tending to the seed until one day the carrot sprouted, just as he knew it would. When he pulled the carrot out of the ground it filled a whole wheelbarrow. This simple story is a reflection of the battle they went through with Louis.
Mark and Mary Ellen Unger's son Louis was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma at age 3. He battled this treacherous cancer for 5 years with the leadership of the neuroblastoma team at Memorial Sloan Kettering. After relapsing with the cancer in his brain, his incredible team of doctors developed a new treatment protocol that cured him and made him the First Survivor of this relapse. This book was written by Mark to tell the story of how advocacy helped save his son and countless others from this disease.
"Mary Ellen and Mark Unger are parent advocates like I had never seen before or since. Negotiating the complicated world of Pediatric Oncology, the varied clinicians, the medical terminology, multiple medical centers, experimental protocols, and the emotional ups and downs of advanced parenting must have seemed impossible. But the Ungers, not medically trained when they started this journey, took on the challenge and were incredibly effective. Eventually, I think, saving their son's life. Mary Ellen and Mark stand as role models for all parents who advocate for their kids. And they have shown me that effective advocacy is not only important for every parent, but it is possible in any situation. Even the most dire."
"So very many aspects of Louis’ story stand out incomparably – and so vividly highlight the virtuous side of the human condition and predicament. Some of us might be most moved and inspired by Louis’ parents, with their love, devotion, dedication, fortitude, self-sacrifice. Nothing is more precious than an innocent child – or more tragic, difficult to confront, and beyond human understanding than when a young one is stricken by a lethal malady that causes pain and suffering. So how wonderful it is that Louis has now grown up to be a thriving and vibrant young man! And how amazing it is that every one of the untold number of killer cancer cells that had permeated his entire body could be eradicated. Kudos to the multi-varied treatment program that included powerful chemotherapy, targeted immunotherapy, as well as the then novel and experimental attack against relapse in the brain - all developed at MSK."