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2019 Children's Cancer Fund Models 2019 featured models for the 31st Annual Children’s Cancer Fund Gala pictured with Gala Chair Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, Honorary Co-Chairs Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, and Children’s Cancer Fund Executive Director Jennifer Arthur


Chair Kimberly Schlegel Whitman Joins Honorary Chairs Roger Staubach & Troy Aikman and cancer patients, survivors, and celebrities for a fashion show, dinner, and dancing to raise funds for pediatric oncology research and treatment 

East Dallas kids Yulissa Martinez, 5, of Pleasant Grove, and Eli Patterson, 5, of Lochwood, are featured models in the Children’s Cancer Fund Gala “An Evening in the Garden,” where hope blooms in an enchanted garden filled with miraculous stories of survival, on Friday, April 26, 2019, at the Hilton Anatole Dallas.  The event begins with a silent auction and VIP reception at 6 p.m. followed by the dinner and program at 7 p.m. Chair Kimberly Schlegel Whitman joins longtime Honorary Co-Chairs Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman to kick off the evening.  The event is expected to raise more than $1 million to support pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at Children's Health and UT Southwestern.  Staubach, who has been involved all 31 years, and Aikman, now in his 22nd year, join other celebrities and sponsors as runway escorts for 25 featured pediatric cancer patients, ages 4-16, who model fashions by Dillard’s for the annual fashion show, produced by RSC Show Productions.   Upon arrival, guests will be transported into a lush garden setting, complete with a floral swing and a gift card tree – all designed and created by GRO Events and Design. The evening will conclude with dancing and entertainment, provided by DJ Souljah and a violin accompanist.

In September of 2015, Yulissa Martinez was diagnosed with leukemia, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. She is no longer in treatment, but she visits her doctor monthly for follow up.

Martinez is in the first grade at B.H. Macon Elementary. When she grows up, she would like to be a nurse just like who ones who takes care of her. At just 5 years old, she knows that “everything will be okay.”  She loves princesses and would like to go to Disneyland so she can meet Beauty and the Beast.

“I am excited to be in the fashion show and look like a princess in a pretty dress,” said Martinez.

In September of 2016, just two weeks shy of his third birthday, Eli Patterson was diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. He was immediately admitted to Children’s Medical Center to begin treatment, which will continue until May 2020.

“While he was fortunate to achieve remission during the first phase of his treatment, he had to spend about five of his first 12 months of treatment in isolation in the hospital because of complications and infections,” said Annie Patterson, his mother. “While there he enjoyed going to the oncology playroom as well as visits from his brother and sister.  He also loved pulling a red wagon around the hallways and greeting all of the staff!”

Patterson loves to fix things and play sheriff. He would like to play the guitar one day and play cowboy songs, but he told his parents he does not want to get old too fast because he doesn’t want any whiskers. He enjoys making friends and calls his mom and dad his heroes because they are a team, and he can trust what they say. One day he would like to fly on an airplane to go see brightly colored fish in the coral reef like Nemo and go whale watching. He enjoys going to the hospital for his monthly treatment, seeing the model trains, and visiting with Blair (the therapy dog) and all his friends and oncology staff who are now like his extended family.

“I’m excited to be a model in the fashion show because I can dress up (usually as a cowboy),” said Patterson.

“I was in isolation for almost a year so I’m excited to be around a lot of friends.”

The gala, which is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser for pediatric cancer, is sponsored by CBS 11 and features Karen Borta as mistress of ceremonies. Since 1982 Children’s Cancer Fund has donated over $10 million to the childhood cancer cause.

“The Children’s Cancer Fund Gala brings together kids who have been through such hard times, from chemo to radiation,” said Jennifer Arthur, executive director, Children’s Cancer Fund.  “No matter where they are in treatment – day one or year 12 – we are celebrating their lives and letting them know they are not alone in this fight. The commitments of our supporters on this special night give us hope of a day when childhood cancer will no longer exist.”

Gala Chair Kimberly Schlegel Whitman has served as a lifestyle contributor to the TODAY Show on NBC and editor-at-large of Southern Living Magazine since 2011. She is the author of eight books on entertaining, including her latest, Parties Around a Punch Bowl. Whitman is also a mother of two children and an active member of the Dallas community.  Presently, she is the chair of the NorthPark Ambassador Program, where she is working to raise awareness for Dwell with Dignity. Along with her husband, Justin, she co-chaired the North Texas Food Bank’s Food 4 Kids program for two years and served on the board. She is a member of The Sweetheart Ball, the New Friends New Life Advisory Board, and the MTV RE:DEFINE Advisory Committee, of which she is a past chair. This spring Whitman is honorary chair of the DWD Thrift Studio Event. Additionally, she is a 2018 and 2019 Crystal Charity Ball Ten Best Dressed Honoree, a recipient of the American Heart Association Volunteer of the Year Award and a co-recipient of the Virginia Chandler Dykes Leadership Award, sharing the honor with her mother, Myrna Schlegel. 

“After meeting these children at the hospital, I was amazed to see not only their strength and resilience, but also such joy on each of their faces – in the midst of their incredibly hard battles,” said Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, Gala chair. “No child or family deserves what comes with a cancer diagnosis. Children’s Cancer Fund is making an impact, and I’m thrilled to help through the Gala. I consider each of these special children my new friends in life, and I’m looking forward to supporting them in their fight.”

Children’s Cancer Fund was founded 36 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 Health 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 Specialist at the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Children’s Medical Center to assist the outpatient team. The primary goal of the Child Life Specialist 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.

“The children have looked forward to this night all year,” added Arthur. “They spend the day getting runway ready and reuniting with their friends backstage, and when the spotlight comes on, you will see some of the happiest smiles. The grand finale, which features CCF models from the past 30 years, is one of the most incredible moments of the evening. These stories of survival are a testimony to the impact CCF is making in our community.”

Sponsors to date include: $75,000: Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers; $50,000: Texas de Brazil; $25,000: Children’s Health; Jennifer Stroud Foundation; Marianne and Roger Staubach; $15,000: Andrews Distributing Company; $10,000: Deborah and John Ahmed; Capa and Troy Aikman; Charles Bailey; Lisa and Clay Cooley; Headington Companies; Tracy and Ben Lange; McCullough Foundation; Holly and Barry Pennett, Myrna and Robert Schlegel; Sewell Automotive; $5,000: Allie Beth Allman; BB&T; Lindy and Brad Berkley; CB Choi Family Foundation; Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth H. Cooper; Mandy & Bill Dillard Charitable Foundation/Amanda and Charlie Shufeldt; Juanika and Monta Ellis; Gralapp Family; Greenberg Traurig, LLP/Bina Palnitkar; Hawk + Sloane; Hillcrest Five Group; J.W. Logistics; KPMG LLP; Lori and Lee Mikles; Stephanie and Hunt Neurohr; Jessica and Dirk Nowitzki; Elizabeth and Kevin Phillips; S2 Capital; Betty and Brian Schultz; and Lisa and Steve Serra.

In-kind sponsors include: American Airlines; Dennis Basso; bell’INVITO; Martin Brower; Buxton Marine; Dillard’s; Drakeley Magic; Gene and Jerry Jones Family Foundation; GovPlanets; GRO Floral & Event Design; Harper’s Bazaar; The Joule Hotel; Juliska; Kendra Scott; Matthew McConaughey and JK Living Foundation; Matthew Trent; Stacy and Mark McKay; Myra Meier and The Plaza Hotel; Nici and David Muzzo; Candace Nelson and Sprinkles; NorthPark Center; Outfront Media; Patty Foppen Photography; Raising Cane’s; Ritchie Brothers; Nancy Rogers; The Ritz-Carlton; Jennifer and Walker Royall; RSC Show Productions; Salon Pompeo; Samuel Lynne Galleries; Society Bakery; Stanley Korshak; Villy Custom; and Stuart Wietzman.

Media sponsors are CBS11/TXA21 and PaperCity magazine.

Visit Patterson’s personal fundraising page:

Gala tickets are $300. Contact Children’s Cancer Fund at 972-664-1450 or visit for reservations and more information. 

Children’s Cancer Fund (CCF), founded in 1982, champions kids in their fight against cancer through strategic investments in research and care in North Texas. Since its inception, CCF has awarded almost $10 million in grants, and the organization received the 2014 Outstanding Foundation Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The group seeks to partially relieve the burden of obtaining and administering funds for pediatric cancer research and treatment at Children’s Health and for selected research at UT Southwestern Medical Center, both nationally recognized programs for the investigation and treatment of childhood cancer.  The Children’s Cancer Fund office is located at 4201 Spring Valley Road, Suite 370, Dallas, TX 75244. For more information, please contact Children’s Cancer Fund at 972-664-1450 or visit

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