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Father fights to pass legislation to improve funding into childhood cancer research in Pennsylvania

SPRINGETTSBURY TOWNSHIP, YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- It’s been a year of fighting for one father in York County.

Bill Kohler of Springettsbury Township been pushing to pass legislation in Pennsylvania that would help fund research into childhood cancer.

Kohler lost his son, Ayden Zeigler-Kohler, to brain cancer during March of 2017.

Ayden was just 10-years-old.

Kohler says he couldn't just sit; he had to do something to help other families and other children living with a pediatric cancer diagnosis.

“I would always say to him, ‘whose life did you save?’ and he would say, ‘yours, dad’. And then he’d say, ‘I love you,’ and I would say, ‘how do you know you love me?’ And he’d say, ‘cause I feel it right here,'" said Kohler.

Bill Kohler fondly remembers his son - a little boy with a lot of heart who was taken too soon.

Ayden passed away last March after battling Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a form of brain cancer.

Ever since, the York County father has made it his mission to help other families with a child suffering from cancer.

"Kids should not be going through this," he said.

He's been advocating for legislation to better fund research into pediatric cancer.

According to the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer, only 4 percent of cancer research funding from the federal government goes towards studying childhood cancer.

“With cancer, it’s always been the top town. You treat the adults, then worry about the kids. The funny thing is when they do innovative research on children, they end up finding treatments which help adults," said Chris Winters, President of the National Children's Cancer Consortium, who says it doesn't add up.

“This is why these bills are really important to me," explained Kohler.

One bill has already been signed into law in Pennsylvania.

Legislation giving people the option to donate to pediatric cancer research on their personal income tax returns.

The donations, deducted from the taxpayers’ refunds, would go to hospitals in Pennsylvania, designated by the state health secretary, that are conducting such research.

Senate Bill 1091, if passed, would do the same, except on vehicle and license forms.

That funding would benefit pediatric cancer research at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Kohler plans to continue fighting... for Ayden and for other kids battling the disease.

“I could either sit still and do nothing, when I do that, the emotions overrun you… and I just feel like I’m waiting, I’m waiting just to die and see my son again. But doing this - it’s not only helping the DIPG kids, it's the other kids with cancer too," he said.

Senate Bill 1091 could be moved out of the Transportation Committee and voted on by the house later this month.

SB 1091 is sponsored by Senator Scott Martin of Lancaster County.