The Brent Eley Foundation (BEF) was created in 1997 by Donn and Linda Eley as a tribute to their son, Brent, who was 13 when he was diagnosed in 1987 with Rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive and rare cancer. Brent was initially treated with chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation at The Children’s Hospital in Denver. While the tumors responded to treatment initially, doctors informed the family that a bone marrow transplant was the only chance for long-term survival. This critical treatment was not available at that time in Denver and the family traveled to Iowa City for treatment that lasted more than six months. Following transplantation, Brent’s immune system recovered enough for him to be discharged from the hospital, but he was required to stay in the area for continued treatment and follow up. Luckily, the family was able to find newly renovated student housing clean enough for Brent’s fragile immune system. Soon after Brent’s discharge, however, he was back in the hospital with a viral infection. Over the next several months Brent was in and out of the hospital, but ultimately neither his immune system nor the doctors were able to save him from the infection. Donn and Linda returned to Denver without their son, determined to do something to honor Brent’s spirit and courage during his year-long ordeal.
The Eleys spent the next nine years raising funds in support of pediatric cancer programs, after which they established the Brent Eley Foundation in 1997 and opened the first Brent’s Place facility in 1998, one block from The Children’s Hospital in Denver. Brent’s Place is a specialized hospital hospitality house that fills the critical need for individualized support programs and innovative living accommodations suitable for immune compromised pediatric patients and their families. In 2009, following a $7.5 million capital campaign, Brent’s Place opened a new state-of-the-art facility just blocks from the nationally renowned Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO. The Aurora facility is equipped with sixteen apartments, social and activity spaces, a meeting room, commercial kitchen, library, exercise room and an outdoor play space designed specifically for immune-compromised children.
The Brent’s Place program has been a pioneer in providing housing, care, and support for immune-compromised pediatric patients and their families. The Brent’s Place facility in Aurora may be the only hospital hospitality house in the country designed specifically for immune-compromised pediatric patients. Now with two Brent’s Place locations, we have been able to increase the number of patients and families we serve and are exploring opportunities to deepen our support services for the patients, their siblings, parents and other caregivers. BEF is focused on maximizing the use of our Brent’s Place facilities and improving and growing our support programs to lessen the burdens families face as their child recovers from life-threatening disease.