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Myles Allison, 9, of Carrollton


Slated to raise more than $750,000, this evening gala features cancer patients, survivors, celebrities and sponsors in a fashion show as well as dinner, dancing, and the Emerald City Band


Carrollton students Myles Allison, 9, and Mercedes Howdeshell, 13, are featured calendar artists and runway models at The Children’s Cancer Fund Gala, “An Evening in Oz,” the nonprofit’s 28th annual fundraiser for pediatric oncology research and treatment programs.  The gala features an auction, program, dinner and dancing with musical entertainment by Emerald City Band, Friday, April 22, 2016, 6 p.m. (champagne reception), 7:15 (dinner and program), at the Hilton Anatole Hotel,  2201 N. Stemmons Freeway.  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.  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. The Children’s Cancer Fund spring event is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser for pediatric cancer.

Children’s Cancer Fund has created a special 2016 Calendar for the Gala, featuring the artwork of 12 children modeling in the show.   The calendar, $15 each, includes photos as well as original artwork by these young cancer patients. To purchase copies after the luncheon, please call Children’s Cancer Fund at 972-664-1450 or visit

Diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma at the age of 8, Myles Allison, 9, is in the third grade at McCoy Elementary School. His favorite school subject is science, and he wants to be an astronomer when he grows up. Myles is happiest when he is with his family. He enjoys playing video games and watching nature-related television shows and has a leopard gecko named Spike. If he could visit anywhere in the world, he would go to the Bahamas.

“I am excited to dress up and meet famous people at the fashion show,” added Allison.  “It will be awesome to see Troy Aikman and friends from camp at the Gala!”

Diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of 9, Mercedes Howdeshell, 13, is in the seventh grade at Polk Middle School. She is an only child but has a cat, a lizard, a horse, and a chicken. She would like to be a nurse when she grows up, and she enjoys riding her horse, drawing, and hanging out with her family. She is happy when she’s with the people she loves, and if she could travel anywhere, she would like to visit Washington State to be with her family.”

“I’m can’t wait to be a model in the fashion show because it’s something I’ve never done but have always wanted to do,” said Howdeshell.  

Children’s Cancer Fund brings together local celebrities, dignitaries, sponsors, and media personalities to serve as runway escorts for these young patients modeling in the fashion show.  Event Chairs Aikman and Staubach have been involved for many years: Aikman for 19 and Staubach since the event’s inception 28 years ago.  Additional celebrity escorts include current Dallas Cowboys players, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Dallas SWAT, Drew Pearson, Kliff Kingsbury, Andy Dalton, Jane McGarry – WFAA, Jocelyn White, Amy Vanderoef, Miss Texas America, Sunny Malouf, and the Pink Heels Firefighters.

“Did you know 30 years ago, half of all children diagnosed with cancer would not survive? Today, the survival rate is up to 80 percent!” said Lisa Cooley, gala event co-chair. “Even though wonderful progress has been made in the fight against this horrible disease, cancer still remains the number one disease-related killer of children in the U.S., taking over 250 lives worldwide every day. 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.”

Individual tickets are $300 or $2,750 for a table of 10.  Contact Children’s Cancer Fund at 972-664-1450 or visit for reservations and more information.  This year raffle tickets for $100 (or 6 for $500) will be sold in advance of and at the event for a chance to receive 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.

The finale of the show each year is a special time for all the children, both those currently battling cancer and the survivors.  As they will join together on stage, they will be introduced by the evening’s special entertainment, the Emerald City Band. 

“In addition to raising awareness and funds for children’s cancer research, this event serves as a positive social-psychological experience for children undergoing cancer treatment,” added Giora Barker, gala co-chair. “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.”

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.

Sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors: Clay, Lisa and Ciara Cooley; Anne Davidson; Texas de Brazil; Emerald Sponsors: Jennifer Stroud Foundation; Marianne and Roger Staubach; Troy Aikman; Sapphire Sponsors: Headington Companies; Gold Sponsors: Albertsons – Tom Thumb; American Airlines; BMC Software; Kroger; Legacy Bank; McCullough Foundation in honor of Kaitlyn Wade; Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Medical Center; Silver Sponsors: The Barker Family; Belmont Icehouse; Fee, Smith, Sharp & Vitullo, LLP; Matthew Malouf; RSC Show Productions; Yontz Family Farms in honor of Jack Maurer; Fashion Sponsor:  Dillard’s; Media Sponsor:  PaperCity Magazine; Official blogger: My Sweet Charity; In-kind Sponsors: Christopher Martin Gallery; Clay Cooley Automotive Group; Del Frisco’s Steakhouse; Drakeley Magic; Hilton Anatole; Kendra Scott; Kit Courrege; NTX Auto Masters and Epic 4x4 Offroad; Salon Pompeo.

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

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