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Children's Cancer Fund Gala Lisa Cooley, Gala Co-Chair; Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, Event Chairmen; Giora Barker, Gala Co-Chair


Working for months behind the scenes, Barker and Cooley hope the transition of 27-year luncheon event to an evening gala will take the nonprofit to a new fundraising level


Lisa Cooley, of Bluffview, and Giora Barker, of Coppell, first met each other on the football field sidelines cheering on their sons at high school games.  Little did they know they would be together, chairing The Children’s Cancer Fund’s 28th annual fundraising event and first evening gala, Friday, April 22, 6 p.m., at the Hilton Anatole.

Giora Barker first became acquainted with Children’s Cancer Fund when her middle son Jack, now 18 and a senior at Jesuit, was diagnosed with T-cell Acute Leukemia at age 12 in 2009.

“Children’s Cancer Fund provided our family with an amazing network of friends who were on a similar path,” added Barker.  “This organization means so much to our family, and I will always be supportive of its mission to raise critical funding for pediatric cancer research. I am thrilled to be co-chair of this year’s gala.”

In 2010, Jack participated as an artist and model in the Children’s Cancer Fund Luncheon’s fashion show.  Barker served on the luncheon committee for several years before joining the board of directors in 2013.  And while Jack has been in remission for three years, Barker remains passionate about bringing friends and family to the cause.

“Throughout Jack’s illness, Lisa Cooley was someone who was so supportive of our family,” added Barker.  “I can’t think of a more wonderful person to serve as co-chair with me for this year’s gala. Lisa jumped on board without hesitation.”

Barker, originally from Ohio, has been living in Texas for most of life.  A graduate of the University of Texas, she first moved to Dallas for a position at Arthur Andersen, where she met her husband, Tim.  They have four children: Nick, 20; Jack; Natalie, 16, a sophomore at Coppell High School; and Charlie, 12, at Coppell Middle School West.

Barker has participated in two Boston marathons, and the family attends St. Ann’s Catholic Church.

“In addition to raising awareness and funds for children’s cancer research, the Children’s Cancer Fund Gala serves as a positive social-psychological experience for children undergoing cancer treatment,” added Barker. “These kids have been through so much, and this is a day away from hospitals and treatments.  They have a ball backstage and then they each have their moment in the spotlight as they are escorted down the runway and model their new fashions, which they have selected themselves and get to keep, donated by Dillard’s.  As the mother of a cancer survivor, I understand the importance of this type of experience. This evening will bring children living with cancer together for an unforgettable, embracing, and heartwarming experience.”

Over the last few months, Co-Chair Lisa Cooley has become very familiar with childhood cancer statistics and can provide information to anyone who will listen without a note in front of her.

“Cancer remains the number one disease-related killer of children in the U.S., taking over 250 lives worldwide every day – even though today’s survival rate is up to 80 percent!” said Cooley.  “Despite these heartbreaking numbers, all pediatric cancers combined receive less than 4 percent of federal funding for cancer research. This is why you need to join us at this year’s gala.  Together we can make a difference.”

Cooley attended Southeastern Oklahoma University and then moved south and met her husband, Clay, the namesake of Clay Cooley Automotive Group. The couple has lived in Dallas for more than 30 years. They have three children: Chase, 28, a University of Texas Law graduate who works for the family business; Ciara, 19, a sophomore at Southern Methodist University; Chance, 18, a senior at St. Mark’s.   The family attends Preston Road Church of Christ.

No stranger to philanthropy in the Dallas area, this is Cooley’s first opportunity to co-chair an event of this magnitude. 

“I couldn’t be more proud to be part of the team that is breaking boundaries and setting records, as Children’s Cancer Fund becomes one of Dallas’s most anticipated evening fundraising events,” added Cooley.

Cooley is a member of Crystal Charity Ball, Cattle Baron’s Ball, Family Gateway, Heroes for Children, Sons of the Flag, After School All Stars, New Friends New Life, Kidney Texas and Housing Crisis Center.  She also supports Dallas Casa, Young Women’s Preparatory Network, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Voice of Hope, The Family Place, Clayton Dabney Foundation, Taylor’s Gift Foundation, and Community Partners of Dallas.

The Children’s Cancer Fund Gala, “An Evening in Oz,” is the nonprofit’s 28th annual fundraiser for pediatric oncology research and treatment programs.  The gala features an auction, program, dinner and dancing with entertainment by Emerald City Band, Friday, April 22, 2016, 6 p.m. (champagne reception), 7:15 (dinner and program), at the Hilton Anatole Hotel. Previously a luncheon event, the gala continues with the traditional fashion show presented by Dillard’s and produced by RSC Show Productions, featuring children who are undergoing treatment for cancer at Children's Medical Center Dallas. The children, “models” for the fashion show, are escorted down the runway by Event Chairmen Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, along with many other celebrities and sponsors including current Dallas Cowboys players, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Dallas SWAT, Kliff Kingsbury, Sunny Malouf, Jane McGarry – WFAA , Medieval Times Knight, Jake Pavelka, Drew Pearson, the Pink Heels Firefighters, Miss Texas America Shannon Sanderford, Jocelyn White, and Amy Vanderoef.  Gala event co-chairs Giora Barker and Lisa Cooley will kick off the program with Aikman and Staubach, who will turn it over to KDFW FOX 4 NewsAnchor Clarice Tinsley and Scott Murray, Mistress and Master of Ceremonies.

Proceeds from the Gala, slated to raise more than $750,000, go to Children’s Cancer Fund to support pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at Children's Medical Center. Since 1982, Children’s Cancer Fund has donated more than $7 million to the childhood cancer cause. This event is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser for pediatric cancer.

Tickets are $300. Call 972-664-1450 or visit Raffle tickets are $100 (or 6 for $500) for a 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport 4x4 donated by the Clay Cooley Automotive Group and tricked out by NTX Auto Masters and Epic 4x4 Offroad.  Total value over $60,000.

A special calendar, featuring the artwork of 12 children modeling in the show, will be for sale for $30 each.

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