Story and photos by Jan Osborn.
At Dallas Doing Good we like to go behind the scenes and learn what motivates a person to volunteer their time and resources to raise awareness and funds for an organization. We recently had the opportunity to visit with key players of the 32nd Annual Children’s Cancer Fund Gala.
Children’s Cancer Fund (CCF) champions kids in their fight against cancer through strategic investments in research and care in North Texas. CFF is a nonprofit organization based in Dallas that generates funds through several fundraising events throughout the year and private donations. For the 32nd year CCF is presenting the Annual Children’s Cancer Fund Gala—the organization’s annual fundraiser for pediatric cancer research. Gala Co-Chairs Jamie O’Banion and Holly Pellham Davis will join Honorary Chairmen Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, along with other celebrities, as runway escorts for the children.
Tell us how you have seen Children’s Cancer Fund make an impact for patients and families.
Jamie O’Banion: The first time Holly and I attended the Children’s Cancer Fund Annual Gala, we could immediately see the way Children’s Cancer Fund impacts these precious children and their families. The kids shine on this amazing night of fun, away from hospitals and treatments. Additionally, their parents are overjoyed to see them having the time of their lives. The kids are the stars that night as they hit the runway in the fashions they selected at no cost from Children’s Cancer Fund’s partner Dillard’s. Escorted by Honorary Co-Chairs Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman and many other celebrities, they get to know them backstage where they have a chance to be kids and be silly while enjoying a wide array of entertainment. The girls especially love having their hair and makeup done, and it makes them feel amazing! And this gala is just one of many wonderful things Children’s Cancer Fund does for children and families dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Soon, Holly and I will visit Children’s Health with Children’s Cancer Fund staff and see the Child Life Program in action. Children’s Cancer Fund’s partnership with Child Life Services supports an amazing team that provides therapy and compassion to the children through crafting, coloring, singing and simply connecting with them. They educate patients and siblings on their diagnoses to empower them to know more and feel more confident in their journey.
If someone would like to get involved with the work of Children’s Cancer Fund, what is the first step?
Holly Pellham Davis: My recommendation would be to come to the Gala on April 17 and see firsthand how Children’s Cancer Fund is making a difference!! This event, their largest fundraising event of the year, is slated to raise $1 million for pediatric oncology research at Children’s Health and UT Southwestern – both nationally recognized programs for the investigation and treatment of childhood cancer. As Jamie highlighted, it is such an incredible and heartwarming event, which certainly inspired the two of us to be more involved! Children’s Cancer Fund needs volunteers, fundraisers, and more! Trust me when I say, there’s not another experience like it in town. The Gala also gives a wonderful overview of the work that they do. Attending and supporting the Gala is a great way to start. I would recommend also getting in touch with the amazing team at Children’s Cancer Fund to see how you might be able to help throughout the year. Founded in 1982, Children’s Cancer Fund champions kids in their fight against cancer through strategic investments in research and care in North Texas. Since its inception, CCF has awarded over $11 million in grants. We hope to see you on April 17! Please visit childrenscancerfund.com for more information.
I got involved with Children’s Cancer Fund 31 years ago, and since that time there has been so much progress made in research for childhood cancer. We’ve raised a lot of money over the years for pediatric cancer research at Children’s Health and UT Southwestern. During this event, there’s a time for a memorial tribute to the children who have passed away. Nothing makes me happier than to report there have been fewer children to feature in this portion of the program over the past few years.
– Roger Staubach
In 1997, Roger Staubach asked me to get involved with this event. I was single at the time and didn’t have kids of my own, but after I became a father, I had an even better understanding of just how courageous these kids are and what their families are going through. I get emotional when I talk about it because I know more and more people suffering from cancer. I plan to be a part of this event until we find a cure.
– Troy Aikman
NorthPark Center is honored to partner with the Children’s Cancer Fund in their efforts to provide essential support for the families affected by this disease. This year we were pleased to continue our sponsorship of the organization by hosting the “model reveal party” at NorthPark. We hope this memorable celebration filled with fun, food, celebrities, and a special surprise of NorthPark Gold, helped bring joy to their day. We look forward to continuing our commitment to CCF as the fashion partner at the spring “Together We Shine” Gala this April.
– Nancy Nasher
I lost my best friend to leukemia when we were both seven years old in the second grade. I vowed then that I’d someday become a pediatrician and try and save children from childhood cancer. I attended college as a pre-med major. As it turned out medicine gave way to media and a career as a television sports anchor. Yet, along the way, I always stayed involved with children’s charities. Three decades ago, I was introduced to the Children’s Cancer Fund, becoming a member of the advisory board, while serving as the emcee at their annual luncheon gala. I haven’t missed the event in 30 years, and, God willing, never will. And, to be alongside two Hall of Fame role models like Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman whom I dearly admire as they’ve partnered for 31 and 23 years respectively as the honorary chairs, says it all. Despite the battle for their life that each of the cancer challenged boys and girls in attendance are forced to endure each day, their sure presence, forever with smiles on their faces, is an education in unmatched courage. Each of us could learn a lesson or two from them all. I lost my sister to cancer and I’m a cancer survivor. But, the resilience of these young champions is second to none. Making a difference in the life of a child is as good as it gets. And, when that child is battling childhood cancer, they become all that much more special. Forever one of my favorites, I am most proud to continue to be a part of the incredible legacy of the Children’s Cancer Fund.
– Scott Murray
Almost 15 years ago, I co-chaired with my friend Tyler whose son had cancer, 2005 was also my first year to coordinate the fashion show. This is a blessing and an honor that I do not take lightly. The children that I have met over the last fifteen years have blessed and humbled me. My own two young men have learned to not take anything for granted by volunteering in the past. About eight years ago, when I was taking off my headset after the show was completed, a young teenage man came up to the tech booth and asked if he could talk to me. He told me that when he was younger, he had gotten to walk with Troy Aikman and it was the best day of his life. He wanted to thank CCF for allowing him to be a part of such an amazing experience. That was a moment that I can still close my eyes, see him and know that all of the happiness that we can bring a child in one single moment, is what this fundraiser is all about!
– Rhonda Sargent Chambers
Each patient model involved with the Children’s Cancer Fund Gala makes an incredible impression! Gala guests include doctors, medical staff, family and friends who are on the patient frontlines and are a part of their journey every step of the way. The patients’ powerful stories compel people to help fund pediatric cancer research and programs that make a big difference in the lives of kids who are battling cancer.
– Brent Christopher
Proceeds from the spring Gala, slated to raise more than $1 million, go to Children’s Cancer Fund to support pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at Children’s Health and UT Southwestern. Since 1982, Children’s Cancer Fund has donated over $11 million in grants to the childhood cancer cause. The Children’s Cancer Fund spring event is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser and an opportunity to shine a light on pediatric cancer.
For more information about Children’s Cancer Fund, you can visit their website at childrenscancerfund.com.
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