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State Unveils Childhood Cancer License Plate

Posted on: 02/28/2004

State Unveils Childhood Cancer License Plate

POSTED: 9:31 AM EST February 26, 2004

HARTFORD, Conn. -- When Lena Holleran's infant son died from a brain tumor three years ago, the only way she knew how to make sense of it was to do something to help others.

Holleran, a legislative aide for Sen. Cathy Cook, R-Mystic, proposed the idea of a license plate dedicated to childhood cancer to raise both awareness and money for children like her son.

"This is what I do. The only way I know how to fix things is the legislature," Holleran said.

The license plate was unveiled Wednesday before a crowd of parents of children who either suffered or died from cancer, and a coalition of lawmakers who supported the project. The bill passed in the final minutes of last year's session. The license plate reads "Cure Kids Cancer," and features a crayonlike illustration of a butterfly below a blue sky filled with bright yellow stars. The butterfly's center is a yellow ribbon, the awareness symbol for childhood cancer.

Holleran's son, Pierce Holleran Austin, died in February 2001. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 4 weeks old and died when he was just 10 months old. Several lawmakers postponed debate in legislative chambers when he died to attend the wake.

"You stood watch with us. And you prayed with us. And you consoled us. And now we're going to do something even better," Cook told lawmakers, fighting back tears as she lifted the curtain hiding the plate.

"This is what I do. The only way I know how to fix things is the legislature" - Lena Holleran

The proceeds from the plate will be evenly split between Connecticut Children's Hospital in Hartford and Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital. Holleran said she is being conservative about revenue estimates, hoping to raise about $11,000 for each hospital in the first year of operation. Organizers also have the rights to put the plate's image on T-shirts and mugs, she said.

The plate is the first one in the nation to be dedicated to childhood cancer. Paul T. Burke, president of the National Childhood Cancer Association, said states as far west as Idaho and as far south as Florida have inquired about similar projects. The plates cost $50, and there is a $15 renewal fee for the plate. Application forms for the license plate are available from the Department of Motor Vehicles Web site, or at local DMV offices.

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