An event that raises thousands of dollars to fund research to cure pediatric brain cancer is back for its fourth year.

The Carnival for the Cure will begin at 4:30 p.m. June 10 in Ceraland Park, presented in memory of 5-year-old Peyton Whittington, who succumbed to a brain cancer, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma.

Known as DIPG, Peyton had an inoperable tentacle-like tumor that encased his brain stem. He died on June 4, 2013, in the arms of his mother, Lynn Whittington.

She created Peyton’s Angels Indiana Chapter of the Cure Starts Now Foundation to raise money for researchers to learn how to fight brain cancers that kill children. Whittington started Carnival for the Cure as a way to raise money for research.

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“This isn’t going to bring my little boy back, but it will help other families with little boys and girls who are facing this,” she said.

Last year’s event raised about $47,000 for research. Whittington said this year’s goal has been set at $50,000.

Each year, Whittington brings a slightly new twist to the event, which features carnival games, prizes, live entertainment from the band Night Owl, a silent auction which features trips to Colorado and Florida and a magician and bouncy house.

New this year is the opportunity to buy one of 400 raffle tickets being sold to win a 1 carat diamond donated by Gold Casters Fine Jewelry in Bloomington. Raffle tickets are available online at through today.

On Friday, six finalists will be drawn for a chance to participate in a grown-up carnival game when they, or a representative, will dig in the sand for numbered T-shirts, one of which will correspond to the winning number for the diamond, Whittington said.

“We think people will enjoy watching them dig through the sand,” she said.

A special games area geared for toddlers is being offered this year, and the pony rides, an annual favorite, will return, she said.

For the adults, beer and wine will be available throughout the day.

Also different this year will be moving the annual red balloon release in memory of Peyton to near the beginning of the event, rather than the end, his mother said.

Participants may write a message that goes with the balloons, which includes information about Peyton and the effort to fund research to find a cure for DIPG. The red color of the balloons goes with the carnival theme, but also signifies remembering one of his favorite colors, red, which corresponded to his love of Spider-Man.

The event will end with the Blast Off for Peyton fireworks display at dusk.

This year’s honoree at the carnival will be Harrison Grammer, 5, a Rock Creek Elementary student who is undergoing cancer treatment and will be unable to attend, but will be in participants’ thoughts throughout the day, she said.

Whittington said although the fundraiser is focusing on pediatric brain cancer research, the funding will help in all areas of cancer research. She attends an annual DIPG symposium to learn about research being done across the world and said doctors have assured her the research being done benefits more than just DIPG patients.

Researchers have learned DIPG patients have brain tumors that grow quickly, and they are not hereditary, she said. Instead, researchers have learned that during a time that a child is growing, a cell mutation occurs during brain development and a tumor forms, she said.

Whittington donated Peyton’s tumor to Cincinnati Children’s hospital for scientific research and the tumor is still being used by researchers who are working to find “what makes the tumor tick” and how it could be stopped. Researchers are also working with the 1 percent of DIPG patients who have outlived their prognosis, and are living with their tumors, to find a cure, she said.

In the years since Peyton’s death, Whittington’s family has grown and the newest arrival will be 3 months old on the day of the carnival.

John and Lynn Whittington welcomed Lucy, who was born March 10, joining siblings Alexandria, 4, and Stillman, 9, who is Peyton’s twin brother.

“She (Lucy) has brought back a little bit of the joy,” Lynn Whittington said. “She has become a light in our lives that we really needed.”

Lynn Whittington said she is grateful for all the people in the community who continue to remember Peyton and to help organizers raise money to find a cure. Proceeds from the event during the past three years are part of a $2 million fund that is being used to pay for DIPG research to find a cure, she said.

“We are all difference-makers in this town,” she said.

If you go

What: Fourth Annual Carnival for the Cure

To benefit: Peyton’s Angels Indiana Chapter The Cure Starts Now Foundation

When: 4:30 p.m. June 10

Where: Ceraland Park, 3989 S. County Road 525E, Columbus

Activities: Carnival games, prizes, live entertainment, silent auction, magician, pony rides, bouncy house and fireworks; beer and wine will be available for adults.

How much: Ceraland is offering free admission to the park. Games and rides are one, two or three tickets. Tickets may be purchased at a cost of $10 for 10 tickets, or $20 for 25 tickets. Individual bracelets for unlimited games and pony rides are $20.

How to help

To make a donation to Peyton’s Angels Indiana Chapter of The Cure Starts Now, visit

To learn more

To learn more about pediatric brain cancer, visit

Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at or (812) 379-5631.