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
Haylie Geraci, 12, of Trophy Club, is a featured model 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 May of 2018, Haylie Geraci was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), an aggressive blood cancer in which too many?T-cell?lymphoblasts (immature white blood cells) are found in the bone marrow. Geraci, a normally energetic 11-year-old, was tired and complaining she had a stomach ache. The family learned at the time of her diagnosis that she was critical and in dire need of platelets for her B negative blood type.
“They called me at the house with the results of her blood test and said she was critical, and we must get her to the ER immediately,” said Melissa Geraci, her mother. “From that point on, our lives were forever changed, and we soon learned of the important life-saving need for blood donations. While in the hospital, her blood and platelets were so low that the doctors could not perform a spinal tap and her necessary chemotherapy. They were scrambling to find blood and platelets for her uncommon blood type and finally located a single unit at 2:30 a.m., but it wasn’t enough.”
This was the beginning of an awareness campaign within the community highlighting the need for people to donate blood. Geraci was then determined to turn her diagnosis into a teachable moment to raise awareness of this important need. The family learned that hospitals rely on organizations like Carter BloodCare to supply them with blood and platelets. B negative is a less common blood type, and the platelets are good for only a few days. The Geraci family hopes that Haylie’s story will encourage more people to donate blood and platelets.
Haylie Geraci is in the 6th Grade at Medlin Middle School. She enjoys hanging out with her friends, playing games with her family and watching movies. She loves to snuggle with her 14-year-old?dachshund, Peanut, and make movies of him. One day she would like to be a movie producer and an actress. She wants to travel to a nice beach one day and thinks Hawaii’s beaches would be beautiful.
“I am so excited to dress up and walk the runway at the Gala,” said Haylie Geraci.
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.”
Live auction items include: Spend a day with the Dallas SWAT Team: go behind the scenes to see the SWAT Team’s tactical expertise; Dallas Cowboys Exclusive Experience: Fly with the Dallas Cowboys on their private plane to an away game; Sewell for All Seasons: Luxury car every 3 months for a year; World of Watersports: Hit the lake with this top-of-the-line 2019 Nautique Ski Boat; Military Humvee: Own a military grade humvee, restored to pristine condition and ready for your ranch; CCF Custom Harley Davidson: Cruise the highway on this custom-made Harley honoring cancer survivors; Mountain Escape: a 6-night stay at a cabin in the woods in Pagosa Springs, Colorado; Viva la Mexico: Enjoy a getaway to this exquisite Cabo Casita; Watch Ellen LIVE!: Two tickets to a taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and a VIP tour of Warner Bros. Studio; Anguilla Beach Escape: 7-night stay in a gorgeous beachfront home in Anguilla.
Sponsors to date include: $75,000: Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers; $50,000: Sewell Automotive Companies; Texas de Brazil; $25,000: Children’s Health; Jennifer Stroud Foundation; Marianne and Roger Staubach; $15,000: Lana and Barry Andrews with Natalie and Mike McGuire; $10,000: Deborah and John Ahmed; Capa and Troy Aikman; Charles Bailey; Lisa and Clay Cooley; Headington Companies; James and Edna Hallsey Family Limited Partnership; Tracy and Ben Lange; McCullough Foundation; Holly and Barry Pennett, Myrna and Robert Schlegel; $5,000: Wasan and Kasim Alfalahi; Allie Beth Allman; BB&T; Lindy and Brad Berkley; CB Choi Family Foundation; Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth H. Cooper; Juanika and Monta Ellis; Gralapp Family; Greenberg Traurig, LLP/Bina Palnitkar; Hawk + Sloane; Hillcrest Five Group; J.W. Logistics, LLC; KPMG LLP; Mandy & Bill Dillard Charitable Foundation/Amanda and Charlie Shufeldt; 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: Auberge in Aspen; American Airlines; bell’INVITO; Buxton Marine; Dallas Swat; Dennis Basso; Dillard’s; Drakeley Magic; Jason Evans; Fleetwood Hicks; Gene and Jerry Jones Family Foundation; Glad Tower Live Productions; GovPlanet; GRO Floral & Event Design; Harper’s Bazaar; Hayden’s Help and Air Flow Solutions; Hilton Anatole; The Joule Hotel; Juliska; Kelmari Jewelry; Kendra Scott; Martin Brower; Matthew McConaughey and JK Living Foundation; Matthew Trent; Stacy and Mark McKay; Myra Meier and The Plaza Hotel; Nici and David Muzzo; Nomad Productions; NorthPark Center; Outfront Media; Patty Foppen Photography; Raising Cane’s; Ritchie Bros.; The Ritz-Carlton Santa Barbara; Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers; Jennifer and Walker Royall; RSC Productions; RSOUL Royal Productions; Salon Pompeo; Samuel Lynne Galleries; Sewell Automotive Companies; Society Bakery; Sprinkles and Candace Nelson; Stanley Korshak; Stuart Wietzman; and Villy Custom.
Media sponsors are CBS11/TXA21 and PaperCity magazine.
Visit Geraci’s personal fundraising page: www.childrenscancerfund.com/hayliegeraci.
Gala tickets are $300. Contact Children’s Cancer Fund at 972-664-1450 or visit www.ChildrensCancerFund.com/gala 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 www.ChildrensCancerFund.com