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Bennett Williams, 5, of Park Cities Bennett Williams, 5, of Park Cities, will participate in 27th Annual Children's Cancer Fund Luncheon - photo by David Quisenberry


Kathleen Strand, also of Park Cities, is committee co-chair for this beloved event, which features cancer patients, survivors, celebrities and sponsors in fashion show raising funds for pediatric cancer research


Bennett Williams of the Park Cities is only 5, but he is clear on whom he considers his heroes.

“My heroes are Spider-Man and my doctor, Dr. Tamra Slone, because they both save people,” said Williams.

Diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at 13 months, Williams is in Pre-K at Highland Park Presbyterian Day School in Dallas and will join 20 other children who are patients of Children’s Medical Center to participate as a runway model and artist in the 27th Annual Children’s Cancer Fund Luncheon on Friday, April 17, 11:30 a.m., at the Hilton Anatole Hotel.

This annual luncheon and fashion show not only raises awareness and funds for children’s cancer research and programs at Children’s Medical Center, it also serves as a positive social-psychological experience for children undergoing cancer treatment.   For children such as Williams, who have been through so much in their young lives, it’s a fun day with local celebrities, media personalities, and sponsors who walk the runway with them for pediatric cancer research. Current escorts include Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, current Dallas Cowboys players, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Miss Texas Teen USA, Miss Texas America, and more! 

Longtime Event Chairmen Troy Aikman (chaired for 18 years) and Roger Staubach (chaired for 27 years) join Luncheon Committee Co-Chairs Cara Serber and Kathleen Strand, also of the Park Cities, along with celebrities and local media, to take the runway with 21 young cancer patients and pediatric cancer survivors in a fashion show, sponsored by Dillard’s and produced by RSC Show Productions.  KDFW FOX 4 News Anchors and supporters Steve Eagar and Clarice Tinsley serve as Master and Mistress of Ceremonies at the event.  The luncheon is slated to raise over $450,000 for pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at Children’s Medical Center, benefiting children worldwide. 

In addition to being a runway model, Williams was asked to submit original artwork to be featured in the 2015 Children’s Cancer fund Inspiration Book for sale at the luncheon. He loves art at school and drew a picture of a T-Rex standing with him in front of a pirate ship.  He wants to be a construction worker when he grows up.  But for now he enjoys playing hide and seek with his family at the park and loves digging in the sand on the beach whenever he can.  If he could visit anywhere in the world, he would go to Mexico to swim with the dolphins and the sharks.

“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.  This day brings children living with cancer together for an unforgettable, embracing, and heartwarming experience.”

This year’s luncheon has a western theme.  When organizers asked Bennett what his favorite part about being a cowboy would be and Williams replied, “catching cows with ropes.”

Luncheon Committee Co-Chair Kathleen Strand, a nurse practitioner at Children’s HealthSM , became familiar with Children’s Cancer Fund in 2011, when her then 3-year-old daughter, Margaret, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). After 2 ½ years of chemotherapy, Margaret remains cancer free today.  She participated as a runway model in the 2013 Children’s Cancer Fund Luncheon. 

The finale of the show each year is a special time for all the children, both those currently battling cancer and the survivors, to join together on stage.  Amber Carrington and Justin Rivers, both from NBC’s “The Voice,” will sing for the finale of the show. 

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.

Tickets for the 27th Annual Luncheon are $150 each or $1,500 per 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 2015 NISSAN Altima, 2015 NISSAN Rogue or $20,000 cash prize donated by Clay Cooley Automotive Group.

“The enthusiasm, support, and generosity in the ballroom the day of the fashion show is nothing short of inspiring,” added 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.” 

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