Charity poker event began with child’s cancer diagnosis

WASHINGTON — A yearly charity poker tournament inspired by a 2-year-old’s cancer diagnosis is set for Saturday at MGM National Harbor.

“My godparents are awesome,” said Kennedy Snyder, now 16, of Brad and Callie Nierenberg, the Alexandria founders of the Chance For Life Foundation.

The 12th annual Chance for Life event will raise money to help fight pediatric cancers such as the one Snyder was diagnosed with when she was a toddler.

Kennedy Snyder and father Jeff were among the attendees at the 2016 Chance For Life poker tournament. (Photo courtesy Chance for Life)
Kennedy Snyder and father Jeff were among the attendees at the 2016 Chance For Life poker tournament. (Courtesy Chance for Life) (Photo courtesy Chance for Life)
Kennedy Snyder and mother Kristy meet with Dr. Brian Rood, the director of clinical neuro-oncology at Children's National Health System. (Photo courtesy Sarah Kaupp/Sarah Kaupp Photography)
Kennedy Snyder and mother Kristy meet with Dr. Brian Rood, the director of clinical neuro-oncology at Children’s National Health System. (Courtesy Sarah Kaupp/Sarah Kaupp Photography) (Photo courtesy Sarah Kaupp/Sarah Kaupp Photography)
Kennedy Snyder and mother Kristy visited Children's Medical Center earlier this month. Chance for Life donations are helping fund research at the hospital. (Photo courtesy Sarah Kaupp/Sarah Kaupp Photography)
Kennedy Snyder and mother Kristy visited Children’s Medical Center earlier this month. Chance for Life donations are helping fund research at the hospital. (Courtesy Sarah Kaupp/Sarah Kaupp Photography) (Photo courtesy Sarah Kaupp/Sarah Kaupp Photography)
"I'm not cured yet," Kennedy Snyder (second from right) said of an aggressive, recurring spinal cord tumor that requires twice yearly visits to the hospital. "But, [that's] definitely better than some kids have it." She was able to visit Hawaii earlier this year with her brother Nate, father Jeff and mother Kristy. (Photo courtesy Kristy Snyder)
“I’m not cured yet,” Kennedy Snyder (second from right) said of an aggressive, recurring spinal cord tumor that requires twice yearly visits to the hospital. “But, [that’s] definitely better than some kids have it.” She was able to visit Hawaii earlier this year with her brother Nate, father Jeff and mother Kristy. (Courtesy Kristy Snyder)
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Kennedy Snyder and father Jeff were among the attendees at the 2016 Chance For Life poker tournament. (Photo courtesy Chance for Life)
Kennedy Snyder and mother Kristy meet with Dr. Brian Rood, the director of clinical neuro-oncology at Children's National Health System. (Photo courtesy Sarah Kaupp/Sarah Kaupp Photography)
Kennedy Snyder and mother Kristy visited Children's Medical Center earlier this month. Chance for Life donations are helping fund research at the hospital. (Photo courtesy Sarah Kaupp/Sarah Kaupp Photography)
"I'm not cured yet," Kennedy Snyder (second from right) said of an aggressive, recurring spinal cord tumor that requires twice yearly visits to the hospital. "But, [that's] definitely better than some kids have it." She was able to visit Hawaii earlier this year with her brother Nate, father Jeff and mother Kristy. (Photo courtesy Kristy Snyder)
“I’m not cured yet,” Snyder said of an aggressive, recurring spinal cord tumor that requires twice yearly visits to the hospital. “But, [that’s] definitely better than some kids have it.”

When Snyder was diagnosed, her godparents discovered the “tragedy” of a lack of funding dedicated to researching childhood cancers. In the past 20 years, only two cancer medications have been specifically developed for children.

“It’s hard to even say that it’s beyond just the tragedy of a child not having a chance to live their life,” Brad Nierenberg said. “But, it’s [also] about the parents and the devastation going on in the relationship and the challenge that these parents have.”

Nierenberg said that Snyder inspires hope for life and living life to the fullest. She and her family will be among those at Saturday’s multi-event fundraiser, which includes $425 poker tournament seats, $250 spectator access to the tournament, a silent auction and a $140 after-party.

Don’t expect something grim and serious like you might see with professional poker players on ESPN.

“It’s going to be a very casual, high-energy, raucous poker event,” Nierenberg said. “Eighty-five to 95 percent of the people playing poker are all amateurs.”

The grand prize winner receives a $10,000 seat at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

Money raised by Chance for Life helps fund research at Children’s National Medical Center and helps sponsor grants issued though Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.

Over the years, Chance for Life has raised $2 million for pediatric cancer research.


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