CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Funding for cancer research is on a steep downhill track as the pandemic goes on. Now, The American Cancer Society (ACS) is asking for help to bring in research dollars.

In a normal year, the ACS brings in $700 million for cancer research. This year, a $200 million deficit is facing the organization and cancer patients.

“This is the biggest shortfall we have ever seen,” said Sundi Herring, the Senior Manager of Community Development for ACS.

That means treatments, clinical trials, grants, and patient services are crippled.

In-person events, like Relays for Life, are the driver behind ACS funding, but because of the pandemic, those events had to be canceled.

If funding does not pick up this year, an entire generation of progress could be lost. The ACS works closely with granting research funds to “the best and the brightest” in university programs.

“Without these research dollars, unfortunately, we’re looking at the loss of an entire generation of funding, of research, of all of those amazing advances that this generation could hold for us…Perhaps they hold the cure for this disease,” said Herring.

Sharon Hox beat breast cancer twice and has seen the benefit of cancer research first hand.

“The progress that’s only made through continued investment and refinement is critical to reducing deaths, increasing life,” said Hox. “We need to continue to invest in health, in our long term health. Cancer kills way too many people every year. It reduces the joy in living.”

The ACS works to enhance the lives of cancer patients to give them hope.

“Which means more survivors, and more children to get to know they’re grandmas and grandpas and have their moms around so that they can celebrate their birthdays,” said Herring. “This is the fight of a lifetime is what we’re facing.”

This fall, the ACS has several events planned to increase funding.

On September 20th, a luminaria event called Neighbors Unite will take place from 7:30-9pm. The event invites all neighbors throughout the Southeast to donate and light Luminaria in honor and in memory of their loved ones who have battled cancer.

On October 16th and 17th and event called Bridges to a Cure will be held to raise money for the ACS. Another event, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, a car parade will be held on October 31st at 9 a.m. at Riverfront Park.

Also ongoing, the 50 Days of Hope campaign is seeking donors to benefit the Hope Lodge in downtown Charleston which just celebrated its 50th anniversary. It’s a free home away from home for cancer patients and their caregivers to stay during treatment. The GoFundMe for that campaign can be found here.

More information on the ACS, the services it provides, and how you can help can be found here.