'The Voice' Coach Blake Shelton Founds Cancer Research Program in Honor of Family Member

Blake Shelton is giving back this holiday season, with Oklahoma University’s Children’s Hospital Foundation announcing on Monday that the singer had recently established the Blake Shelton Cancer Research Program.

Shelton started the program in honor of his cousin, Aspen Van Horn, who was treated at the hospital's Jimmy Everest Center for a neuroblastoma tumor when she was an infant.

The foundation made the announcement with a photo of Aspen as well as a previous photo of Shelton making a donation to the organization.

“We are so thankful for Blake’s support in defeating childhood cancer,” said Chip Keating, Children’s Hospital Foundation’s board president, via The Ada News. “We have what I would consider to be one of the top cancer centers in America here in our footsteps, providing the best care possible for our kids with cancer. This research program will help us further our mission to see more kids ring the bell, symbolizing the end of active treatment and the beginning of a life free of cancer.”

Aspen will celebrate her third birthday this January and underwent two blood transfusions, three rounds of chemo and a surgical procedure to remove most of her tumor by the time she was five months old.

“We are so thankful that Children’s is close to us and that they have the best pediatric physicians to care for Aspen,” said Shayla Van Horn, Aspen’s mother. “We didn’t have to leave the state to receive the care that Aspen needed. It would have been very hard for us to leave the state for that long. We were able to go home as we needed, and family members were able to visit and support Aspen without traveling long distance.”

Shelton previously supported the hospital when he donated $600,000 to the Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders during his concert in Oklahoma City in 2016, presenting the donation on a large check with Gwen Stefani.

“They don’t turn any kids away,” he said onstage. “You come in there, you have a problem, they don’t turn anybody away, so I thought, ‘That’s a place that needs some money.’

“Let’s all do the right thing,” he added. “This is our money, Oklahoma.”

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The Children’s Hospital Foundation funds pediatric research and education programs, and all funds raised through the organization stay in Oklahoma.

Photo Credit: Getty / Tara Ziemba