World's Longest Baseball Game swings for the fences in the fight against cancer

    Community steps up to the plate to boost U of A cancer research.

    By ROSS NEITZ on August 15, 2019

    Fifty-five brave men and one brave woman are dusting off their cleats and grabbing their bats to hit a homerun for cancer patients at the World’s Longest Baseball Game. 


    The ball players are attempting a world record 85-hour ball game in Sherwood Park from August 22 to 25, all to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Cure Cancer Foundation in support of a new drug and therapeutic development at the University of Alberta.  


    “Our job is to cure cancer. Every time we do one of these events, that is our motto,” said Brent Saik, World’s Longest Baseball Game founder and organizer. “The game is non-stop. You go around the clock; all day, all night. Our feet may get sore, we may be tired, we may not be sure if we can keep going, but people battling cancer go through harder challenges every single day. So we keep going.”


    Along with a goal of setting a new Guinness World Record, the players have a much bigger goal in mind—to raise $250,000. Thanks to the generosity of The Dianne and Irving Kipnes Foundation, all donations will be matched, dollar for dollar, to the World’s Longest Baseball Game, up to $250,000.


    All money raised by the World’s Longest Baseball Game will lead to a clinical trial of a new cancer drug at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton. 


    The drug—named PCLX-001—is based on a U of A finding by Luc Berthiaume that exploits newly discovered cancer biology. The drug shuts down the abnormal chemical signalling in many common cancers and triggers those cells to die, but spares the healthy cells.


    Cancers that could potentially be treated by the drug include non-Hodgkin Lymphomas, Leukemias and other blood cancers. It may also have positive results in breast, lung, bladder and pancreatic cancers.


    According to John Mackey, U of A oncologist and director of clinical trials at the Cross Cancer Institute, new drug development projects typically have a one-in-1,000 chance of being successful. PCLX-001 has shown such promise though, it’s now at a stage of having a one-in-three chance of making a positive impact on the lives of patients and families facing cancer.


    “To be honest, not many new drugs get this far in development, let alone make it to market,” said Mackey. “If successful, this will change the landscape of how cancer is treated. Our ultimate goal is to have a new cancer drug that saves lives or prolongs life in patients with cancer. This means that people who would otherwise die of their cancer, despite all the best known treatments, will have a better chance of a cancer-free outcome and more time with their families, friends and loved ones.”

    Funding from the World’s Longest Baseball Game will allow Mackey’s research team to launch a first-in-human clinical trial in cancer patients in Edmonton within the next 12 months. U of A researchers will also use the funding to better understand and predict which patients have PCLX-001 responsive cancers.


    The research team’s work relies on the community stepping up to the plate in support of the players, volunteers and the people they’re playing for, said Saik.


    “We want people to come, we want them to watch and we want to hear their experiences,” he said. “We want to hear their good stories and we want to hear their bad stories. This game is for everybody who has been touched by cancer. Come out and enjoy it and have fun with us.”


    Since 2003, Brent Saik has held seven World’s Longest Games, which have raised more than  $4.98 million for leading-edge equipment and research at the Cross Cancer Institute. 


    The World’s Longest Baseball Game runs from August 22 to 25 at Centennial Park's, Diamond #9. Admission is free and venue is open to the public around the clock. Learn about the players, volunteer your time or donate to the cause at worldslongestgame.ca.