FDA Meeting Update

In May BBDF had its first meeting with the FDA to get input and direction on our plan for clinical trials. This meeting was a huge milestone and an important first step in the process to develop BBDF’s drug combination for the treatment of juvenile Batten disease. (Pictured above: key opinion leaders and BBDF team at the FDA)

We are happy to report that the FDA gave very positive feedback and it was clear they want to help us reach our goal. To put it into context, our regulatory consultants reported that they had never attended a meeting where the FDA was so interactive, motivated and engaged. The FDA guidelines provide a clear path forward for our program and do include some action items for us to address which will help set us up for success when we submit the final package. BBDF, our consultants and advisors are rolling up our sleeves and getting to work in order to get these Batten kids treated as quickly as possible!

June Update – Only 6 months to go!

Only 6 months until we wrap up our first ever capital campaign to fund the treatment for juvenile Batten disease. Time is of the essence as we still need almost $2 million to reach our $6 million dollar goal but with fundraisers on the calendar and help from our generous supporters we know we can do it! Take a look at our June highlights from last month’s newsletter! READ MORE

Calling all Heroes!

It’s true what they say, “What starts here changes the world.” Garland has enlisted the help of hometown hero and University of Texas quarterback, Sam Ehlinger, to reach more friends so that he can help fund a treatment that could save his sister’s life! Hook ‘Em!

You can make a donation and stay up to date with Garland’s progress at beahero.beyondbatten.org OR you can text HERO to 501501 and $10 will be added to your next phone bill.

Over $70,000 raised in February!

It is an exciting time for the Foundation and our affected families as we near the possibility of a clinical trial for the first-ever treatment for juvenile Batten disease. Our February newsletter highlights a new donor advised fund, Bind Up Batten, three community fundraisers, a plethora of ways to get involved and of course your monthly update on the Be Project, which is now up to $3.7 million dollars towards our $6 million goal! You can read the full newsletter HERE!

Thank you for supporting BBDF in 2017!

Our first newsletter of 2018 is here and we are thrilled to announce that we have raised over $3.5 million of the $6 million we need to fund the treatment for juvenile Batten disease! We could not have done it without our family and community supporters who fundraise for us, spread awareness and connect us to other foundations. You can read the full newsletter HERE!

Austin Kids host Bake Sale for Batten!

We love our young philanthropists who branch out on their own to raise awareness and funds for BBDF! Olivia and Finley Brown, Claire and Tripp Craddick, Wyatt and Flynn Eby and Owen Strauss hosted an impromptu bake sale in their neighborhood that raised $152! Flynn and Olivia made all of the cupcakes from scratch and then Wyatt and Finley helped them sell them. The other kiddos started as customers and then stayed to help out! If you want to find out how your child can Be the Change please click HERE for more information on our kids fundraising campaign.

Austin American Statesman – Austin boy trying to raise $1 million for Batten disease treatment for sister

When his parents set out to raise $6 million in two years to fund a Food and Drug Administration clinical trial for a possible treatment for Batten disease, Garland Benson, 13, decided last March he was going to raise $1 million of that to help find a treatment for his sister, Christiane. He would do it, he decided, by asking 100,000 people to give $10. READ THE FULL STORY HERE

Garland Benson: KVUE Daybreak All Star!

Garland Benson was recognized by the ABC News affiliate, KVUE for his efforts to raise $1 million to fund a treatment for his sister, Christiane, who suffers from juvenile Batten disease. Garland has raised almost $227,000 so far and is getting closer every day! Check it out and see how you can #BEaHero today and help fund a treatment for Christiane and all of the other children who suffer from Batten disease. Watch the Video HERE.

A Brother, A Sister and the Search for a Deadly Disease’s Cure


Below is an article that was written at the beginning of October. It’s a great summary of Garland’s effort to help his sister, Christiane. At the time of the writing, Garland’s fundraising total was about $90,000 and we are excited to report that his total is now over $151,000!


Garland Benson, a freckled-face 12-year-old with a winning smile, is on a mission – one that’s very personal, but could have far-reaching implications.

He just needs a little help from 100,000 friends and strangers.

Here’s why: Garland’s 15-year-old sister, Christiane, has juvenile Batten disease, a rare, fatal, inherited neurological disorder. It’s the same disease that was responsible for the July deaths of three siblings over the course of three days in Utah.

Children with the incurable disease suffer progressive vision loss, commonly followed within a couple of years by seizures and, as time passes, the loss of motor functions and speech. That’s followed by premature death, usually in the late teens or early 20s.

In 2008, the parents of Garland and Christiane, Craig and Charlotte Benson, formed the non-profit Beyond Batten Disease Foundation (www.beyondbatten.org) with the goal of helping find a cure. Through research funded by the foundation, progress is now being made on a treatment that, although not a cure, could slow down the disease’s progression, perhaps buying time for young people like Christiane.

The foundation is trying to raise $6 million that’s needed to help hurry that research along by getting it through an expensive validation and development process so that it can receive FDA approval for clinical trials.

Enter Garland, a boy with a big heart for his sister and an understanding that small gifts can add up to extraordinary amounts if the multiplication factor is large enough.

“I decided to raise $1 million of that $6 million on my own,” he says. “If I can get 100,000 people to give $10 each I’ll have $1 million. I think we can easily do that.”

With his goal clear, Garland confidently set out in March to achieve his objective – and do whatever he could for his sister and other young people who have the same disease.

Many donors have left heartfelt messages for him, such as: “Garland, you are the sweetest, best brother a girl could have.” “You inspire me to make a difference.” “Thank you for blessing your sister and so many others.”

Garland quickly found that his self-imposed undertaking wasn’t quite as easy as he hoped, but he has persevered and so far has raised about $90,000. His optimism isn’t faltering yet.

“I think it would be amazing if we find a cure,” Garland says.

Although Batten is genetic, and families can have more than one child with the disease, Garland does not have it. He’s not a carrier either, so he can’t pass it on to his children.

Despite the disease, Christiane is a cheerleader, has joined her family on ski trips and on horseback-riding adventures, and continues to be an inspiration for her younger brother.

“It’s really cool how she can do all that stuff and not be able to see,” Garland says. “But what I’d really like is for her to be able to lead a normal life like me.”

About Garland Benson

Garland Benson, 12, lives in Texas and is trying to raise $1 million to help fund research into juvenile Batten disease, which afflicts his sister, Christiane. The money is being raised through the Beyond Batten Disease Foundation (www.beyondbatten.org), which was launched in 2008 by the parents of Garland and Christiane, Craig and Charlotte Benson. The foundation’s goal is to help eradicate the disease by raising awareness about Batten and helping to fund research that could eventually lead to a cure. Those who want to donate can text the word HERO to 501051 and $10 will be added to their next cell phone bill. Donations can also be made through Garland’s donor page on the Beyond Batten Disease Foundation’s website.



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