Event brings celebrities, sponsors and over 900 caring community members together to raise funds for
pediatric cancer research at Children’s Medical Center
The annual Children’s Cancer Fund Luncheon is not your typical Dallas fundraising luncheon. Not only does it raise critical funding for pediatric cancer research and programs at Children’s Medical Center, it also serves as a positive social-psychological experience for children undergoing cancer treatment. With the help of area celebrities, sponsors, and a caring community, these children are given a fun day, away from hospitals and treatment. Whether volunteering as a an escort for a child featured on the runway for the fashion show, purchasing a table in the ballroom, or sponsoring the event, each contributor plays a vital role in the day’s success and the organization’s movement toward a pediatric cancer-free tomorrow.
Twenty-one young cancer patients from Children’s Medical Center selected an outfit donated by Dillard’s to model at the luncheon. When they arrived at the Hilton Anatole Hotel the morning of the luncheon, they were paired with volunteer buddies, and spent the day backstage talking to celebrities, having fun with clowns and magicians, getting their hair done, taking pictures, coloring, eating lunch, and more. They were joined by up to 100 more children who are all pediatric cancer survivors and who joined them for the grand finale of the fashion show, which featured music by Amber Carrington and Justin Rivers of NBC’s “The Voice.”
Celebrity VIPs arrived at 10 a.m. for a special reception where the 21 children’s artwork is displayed. Each is asked to submit an original piece, submitted in the 2015 Children’s Cancer Fund Inspiration Book. This year’s guests included longtime Event Chairmen Roger Staubach, who has chaired the event for all 27 years, and Troy Aikman, who has co-chaired for the past 18 years. Clarice Tinsley and Steve Eager served as mistress and master of ceremonies, and as the children took the runway with their escorts, they shared a little about each child with the audience. For example: “Laura Beth Rote, 8, has an older brother Kyle and a Boston Terrier named Maggie. Her favorite subject is math, and she wants to be a teacher when she grows up. On the weekends, she loves to go to her grandparents’ house for breakfast and shopping. Her heroes are her doctors who have made her well. Micah Reed, a 6th grader at Sulphur Springs Middle School, wants to be an oncologist and an artist when he grows up. His heroes are the U.S. military, past and present because they fight for our freedom. He loves drawing, listening to music and writing, and is happy when his counts are good and he is not weak. Brady Pampillonia, 9, has three little sisters and a dog names Peyton. He wants to be a hockey player when he grows up. His favorite movie star is Steve Carell, and he is excited to meet celebrities and raise money for childhood cancer at the fashion show.
“Sharing a little about each child, makes each one’s walk down the runway a special time, while giving the audience a perspective on how cancer truly impacts everyone,” added Britney Bannon, Development Director, Children’s Cancer Fund. “Unfortunately, no one is exempt from this terrible disease.”
Rhonda Sargent Chambers of RSC Productions produced the show. Celebrity escorts included Dallas Cowboys Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, and Terence Newman, along with Rowdy and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Miss Texas America Monique Evans and Miss Texas Teen USA Chloe Kemble, joined a host of other celebrities and sponsors including Drew Pearson, Ray Johnston, Charles Haley, Steve Largent, Jason Castro, the Pink Heals Firefighters, Dallas SWAT Team, Queen Elsa and Cinderella, among others.
Event Chairmen Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman kicked off the luncheon in the Chantilly Ballroom, introducing committee co-chairs Kathleen Strand and Cara Serber, who each have daughters who have had cancer.
Kathleen Strand told the audience, “There’s nothing that can every prepare you for the words, ‘I’m sorry, your child has cancer.’ And there’s almost nothing you can do to fix it or to help make sure your child gets better. I stand her before you today, humbled by all of you, as your presence here helps us in our fight against pediatric cancer.”
Cara Serber followed Strand also with a message of gratitude for those who have supported pediatric cancer research.
“I would love to tell you that I chose to support pediatric cancer research because I have always known what a necessary cause it is,” added Serber. “But the truth is, before March of 2012, I knew embarrassingly little about it.”
That was when her daughter Libby got sick and wasn’t getting better. Diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer on March 27, 2012, Libby had a three-pound tumor removed along with her kidney, and days later, because the cancer had spread, needed open heart surgery and a lengthy treatment plan of radiation and chemotherapy. On October 21, 2012, Libby was found to have no evidence of the disease.
“Our story has a happy ending, but there are many stories that do not.”
Prior to the western-themed runway fashion show, a live auction was held, which included original artwork painted by children and Texas-based artist Christopher H. Martin. Numerous other packages were also auctioned during this time.
“While all fundraising totals are not yet complete, we are close to our $450,000 goal, and we know that we surpassed what we raised last year on the day of the event, bringing in over $130,000 in live auction, silent auction, call for cash and merchandise sales. Our live auction brought in the largest amount on record - $50,000,” said Brittney Bannon, Director of Development, Children’s Cancer Fund.
With over $7 million in funds raised, since 1982, for pediatric cancer research, Children’s Cancer Fund continues to fund critical research while improving treatments for hundreds of children throughout the greater North Texas community,” said Luncheon Committee Co-Chair Cara Serber. “A significant amount of these funds are raised through this annual luncheon.
Children’s Cancer Fund was founded 33 years ago by a coalition of parents whose children were receiving cancer therapy at Children’s Medical Center. The organizers have since been joined by community leaders, dedicated volunteers, and health professionals in their fundraising efforts. CCF is one of the nation’s leading fundraising groups in supporting local research toward treatment and prevention of childhood cancers. Among the programs supported by Children’s Cancer Fund are the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Program at Children's Medical Center and the Children's Cancer Fund Comprehensive Center for Research in Pediatric Oncology and Hematology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, which is gaining a national reputation for its work in eradicating childhood cancer. In 2002, Children’s Cancer Fund initiated funding for a full-time Child Life Assistant at Children’s Medical Center’s Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders to assist the outpatient team. The primary goal of the Child Life Assistant is to make each of the 80-90 daily outpatients’ visits a more positive experience. This position is funded annually by CCF, helping to ease the emotional strain of ongoing treatments, some lasting several years.
Proceeds from this event go to Children’s Cancer Fund to help advance pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at Children’s Medical Center, benefiting children worldwide.
“The enthusiasm, support, and generosity in the ballroom the day of the fashion show is nothing short of inspiring,” said Luncheon Co-Chair Kathleen Strand. “It’s very humbling to see everyone come together with their time, treasures, and talents for the children. This level of commitment enables Children’s Cancer Fund to pursue strategic investments in research, ensuring CCF is truly a movement for a pediatric cancer-free tomorrow.”
Sponsors include: Fashion Presenter: Dillard’s; Media Sponsor: 98.7KLUV; Ruby Sponsors: Clay Cooley Automotive Group, PSAV, Texas de Brazil; Emerald Sponsors: Headington Companies on behalf of The Joule,Jennifer Stroud Foundation; Diamond Sponsors: Albertsons, American Airlines,BMC Software, OUTFRONT Media Dallas, Children’s Health/Children’s Medical Center Foundation, GRO Designs, Hilton Anatole, Marianne & Roger Staubach, McCullough Foundation in honor of Kaitlyn Wade, Prashe Décor, Troy Aikman, US Bioservices; Sapphire Sponsors: Belmont Icehouse, Camera2Productions, Kendra Scott, KROGER, Lipshy Family Philanthropic Fund, RSC Show Productions, Yontz Family Farms in honor of Jack Maurer and Family; Opal Sponsors: AT&T Pioneers Dallas Council, Brad and Lindy Berkley, Brady Investments, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., David Quisenberry Photography, Erickson Dental, Exposure Soul Photography, Jason and Heather Snider, Jason McNellie, Jeffrey McWhorter Photography, Morton and Peachy Rudberg, North Texas Pediatric Urology Associates, Pawnee Bill Wild West Show, and VIVA Pediatrics Home Health Services.
Children’s Cancer Fund (CCF), founded in 1982, supports clinical and laboratory research for pediatric cancer. CCF raises funds through charitable events and donations from the public and private sectors of industry, foundations, trusts, and individuals interested in fighting pediatric cancer. Since its inception, CCF has awarded over $7 million in grants. This organization seeks to partially relieve the medical and research staff of the burden of obtaining and administering funds for this research and treatment and to assist in the formulation and implementation of long range plans for the development of Children's Medical Center and UT Southwestern Medical Center as nationally recognized programs for the investigation and treatment of childhood cancer. The Children’s Cancer Fund office is located at 10300 N. Central Expressway, Suite 463, Dallas, Texas 75231. (Phone) 972-664-1450. (Fax) 972-664-1425. For more information, please call Children’s Cancer Fund at 972-664-1450 or visit www.ChildrensCancerFund.com.