Brantley Francis Foundation helping raise awareness for pediatric cancer

Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 2:12 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2022 at 5:33 PM CDT
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GENESEO, Ill. (KWQC) - The Brantley Francis Foundation was founded in spring 2019 by Matt and Jeanna Francis of Geneseo, after their son, Brantley, died in 2017 at 3-years-old after a battle with cancer.

The Brantley Francis Foundation fills BFF bags with toys for children battling cancer, and gift cards for their families. The foundation also holds several fundraisers throughout the year that goes toward BFF bags and pediatric cancer research.

If you would like to donate, click here to view their website.

September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month.

Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children in the United States, with one in 285 kids diagnosed with cancer by the age of 20.

“Brantley was born in August of 2014, down in Peoria.”

Matt and Jeanna Francis welcomed their son, knowing he would have to battle some health issues.

“Immediately we knew there was a long road ahead for Brantley,” said Matt Francis, Brantley’s father.

But nothing could have prepared them for baby Brantley’s diagnosis at four-months-old.

“His germ cell tumor was located at the bottom of his spine. So, you know, it wasn’t really a leukemia or the things that people here of. You know, just something that didn’t sound like it would be a big deal from the doctors, initially, but obviously it became something that was unmanageable,” said Francis.

A lover of all things super heroes and ninja turtles, Brantley battled cancer for three years, until he died in December of 2017.

Through the support of friends, family and the community during Brantley’s continuous rounds of treatment, the Francis family wanted to give back.

In spring 2019, they founded the “Brantley Francis Foundation,” with the goal of putting a smile on a child’s face whose battling cancer, and to support their families.

‘Superhero Brantley’ is the foundation’s logo, complete with a cape and a Ninja Turtle mask in the shape of a pediatric awareness ribbon.

“You know, I see all the kids and families we connect with and it’s awesome to see we’re reaching so many people and helping them, but it’s also sad to see how many kids are battling cancer, right? And we’re only touching a fraction of them that we can help,” said Francis.

The Brantley Francis foundation is known for the “BFF bags” full of toys for the kids battling cancer, and gift cards for the families alongside them.

It’s one way they give back to the community that donates and supports the Brantley Francis foundation mission.

“We do things like a beer out here at Geneseo Brewing Company. We do, we’ve done a couple different events with a couple other companies throughout the Quad Cities that have helped us. And our biggest one and our most fun one is with Checkers here in the Quad Cities. We did ice cream cones a couple years. This year we’re doing the “Baconzillas for Brantley, so every burger they sell this month [September], we get a buck from it,” said Francis.

A buck going toward funding more pediatric cancer research and helping put a smile on the faces of those battling.

“Brantley was put here for a reason. You know, at the time and even today it’s hard to say what that reason was for. Maybe it was for us to help others. You just wish you could have done it with him, right, we could have done it with him,” said Francis.

So far this year, the Brantley Francis Foundation has gifted nearly 100 “BFF Bags to children battling cancer, and they have no plans to slow down helping children in need.