Things we hate to do, but still need to be done

Written by Erin Santos, Isabella’s Mom

I get it.  It’s not a fun thing to do.  You may drive all the way to the center and get turned away.  It’s cold in there.  It may take them a couple of tries to find a good vein.  You are worried you might pass out.  It might be uncomfortable for a while.  It’s boring.  It may take a little longer than you want it to.  I know all these things that go through your head, because they go through mine too.

You would think after our family’s experience, I would be giving blood every chance I could.  But, like you all – I get busy or some of these excuses start ringing in my head.  I have to be honest though, I do try as much as I can to give blood if I have the chance at a blood drive.  Giving blood doesn’t take long at all and other than having to control my alcohol or exercise that day – it doesn’t impact my life too much.  It’s like voting for me.  I feel good doing it and feel proud walking around with my elbow wrapped up in horrible blue tape for a couple of hours.  It’s like a battle scar that somehow says, “I care”.

Platelets.   For some reason this process is a whole new ball game.  I don’t give them as much as I should.  I’m just lazy about it really.  I’m very particular about my platelet giving.  It is a must to have someone with me to entertain me for 90 minutes.  I can’t focus on Isabella too much in those chairs or the experience may become to painful.

I have had some very memorable platelet donations.  The first anniversary of her death, I decided to schedule a platelet donation during the hours she died of June 28th.  I figured that if I was going to do this in her honor, let’s really do it.  The center was full that day as we were really pushing for 100 platelet donors that week, which is harder than landing on the moon apparently.  I sat in my chair and watched seas of purple come in and out.  Everyone knew that I was struggling because I sat there trying to have conversation, but knowing that tears that were falling slowly from my eyes as I talked.

I could see the hour of her death approaching and I just wanted to die.  My brother came in during that time and sat with me.  I think he gave blood instead of platelets that morning but all I really remember was him being with me.  He was there with me on the day we found out she had cancer, up until the day she died in our house.  He is a quiet brother at times but his presence is heavy.  We don’t often talk during these times about what is really going on in our head – it’s like an unspoken thing.  He knew how hard it was for me as I sat there and sobbed.  He just sat there – understanding how the things we hate to do, still need to be done.  This is not where I wanted to be on this morning and he knew it.  He knew I wanted to be in my bed, sobbing and not sitting here in this gray chair.  But once again, I was doing something, not for myself, but for her.  It was the longest donation of my life – but the most meaningful.

We left that morning together and drove to pick out an engagement ring for his girlfriend, Laura.  He let me be a part of a huge day in his life, maybe because I let him be a part of mine.  We went to lunch and had a drink and laughed.  By then my tears were dried up and I had focused on the excitement of his day.  He was starting a new chapter and I got to be there for it.  It was a good day in the end.

Each year as this date approaches, I feel myself wanting to retreat.  I have gotten a little smarter and try to no longer go during that hour of her passing.  It’s just not a smart thing for me to do anymore.  But I still go.  I go because I know how important blood and platelets were to her survival.  I go because I remember her bruising from the slightest touch and how platelets repaired her body so easily.  I go because I remember her not being able to walk into the hospital, only to find out that she was in such desperate need of a blood transfusion that I would have to carry her tired body everywhere.  She would run out of the clinic after her transfusion, as if the events of the earlier day never occurred.

I go because every time I’m there and I check in, the staff knows me and knows her.  Someone there always says a kind word to me about her legacy and I know there is no where else I should be.

I go because it’s the right thing to do.  I go for her.

Please help us honor Isabella through your platelet donation with The Community Blood Center of the Carolinas during the entire week of June 21-28…AND at ANY of their locations.  Our goal is a 100 donations.

– DATES: Thursday, June 21st – Thursday, June 28th
– GOAL: 100 donations
– PHONE: 1-888-59BLOOD / Can call to schedule at any center

Lake Norman Forest Run Benefiting the Isabella Santos Foundation

LAKE NORMAN FOREST RUN  |  HALF MARATHON & 5K  |  JULY 28, 2018  |  7:00AM- 11:00AM

Excited to add this to our partner event list! Announcing the Lake Norman Forest Run on July 28th benefiting the Isabella Santos Foundation, race 1 of the Lake Norman Half Marathon series by Epic Sports Marketing. Mostly in the shade on the well paved roads of Lake Norman State Park, this run has a half marathon and a 5K option.

Details –
Register –

Platelet Drive in Memory of Isabella Santos – June 21-28

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – June 13, 2018 – One hundred platelet donations in memory of Isabella Santos. That’s the goal for the week-long platelet drive that the Isabella Santos Foundation is hosting with Community Blood Center of the Carolinas from Thursday, June 21-Thursday, June 28.

The platelet drive is being held on the sixth anniversary of Isabella Santos’ passing to celebrate her life and legacy. She passed away June 28, 2012, from a five-year battle with neuroblastoma, a rare type of pediatric cancer. During her treatment, she received several blood and platelet transfusions. According to CBCC, cancer patients are the No. 1 recipients of blood products. One local children’s hospital alone requires nearly 300 units of red blood cells and more than 100 units of platelets each month.

“Community Blood Center of the Carolinas has been near and dear to our hearts since Isabella received numerous blood and platelet transfusions to help her stay strong and fight neuroblastoma,” said Erin Santos, executive director and president of the Isabella Santos Foundation. “Hosting this platelet drive is an impactful way we can honor Isabella’s legacy and support local patients who need lifesaving platelets and blood products.”

Those interested can donate platelets at any of CBCC’s five donation centers in Charlotte (4447 South Blvd.); Concord (363 Church St. North); Gastonia (2524 E. Franklin Blvd.); Hickory (2217 Highway 70 SE); or Greensboro (616 Pasteur Drive). Those not able to donate platelets can give whole blood in honor of Isabella at any of CBCC’s donation centers. Appointments are required for platelet donations. To make a platelet donation appointment, email or call 1-888-59BLOOD and use group code Isabella.

In addition, Jersey Mike’s will provide cookies to all presenting donors at CBCC’s Charlotte Donation Center on June 28 to thank the donors and celebrate Isabella with something sweet.

“ISF is the manifestation of Isabella’s legacy of community support and caring,” said Martin Grable, president and CEO of CBCC. “We deeply appreciate the relationship that has developed of the years. Partnering with such a determined and tremendously successful group of people dedicated to raising awareness of rare childhood cancer and what can be done about it makes our work at CBCC even more rewarding.”

About Community Blood Center of the Carolinas

Community Blood Center of the Carolinas is the local nonprofit, community-based blood center and the primary blood supplier to the region’s hospitals. CBCC collects blood and blood products from volunteer donors in the community to return to the community at the lowest possible cost consistent with the highest possible standards. CBCC is a member of America’s Blood Centers, North America’s largest network of community-based, independent blood centers that provide more than 50 percent of the nation’s blood supply. For more information, visit

For more information on hosting a blood drive or donating blood in your area, visit or call 1-888-59BLOOD.

Follow Community Blood Center of the Carolinas on Facebook, on Instagram and on Twitter

About Isabella Santos Foundation

The Isabella Santos Foundation (ISF) is a 501(c)3 childhood cancer foundation dedicated to raising funds for research for neuroblastoma, other rare pediatric cancers, and charities that directly impact the lives of children with cancer. ISF was founded in honor of Isabella Santos from Charlotte, N.C. who lost her battle against neuroblastoma. ISF works to improve rare pediatric cancer treatment options in an effort to improve the survival rate of kids with cancer. For more information, visit  or follow ISF on Facebook (, Instagram ( and Twitter (


Jenni Walker – Walker PR Group – 980-339-8041-office/704-649-6571-cell

Eat a FREE Sub and Support ISF

Join us at the brand new Jersey Mike’s Subs in Waxhaw, NC and enjoy a free sub on ISF! For each coupon redeemed, May 16th-20th, Jersey Mike’s Subs will donate $2.00 to the Isabella Santos Foundation. We are excited to continue partnering with Jersey Mike’s Subs after all of the success in March’s Month of Giving! It’s simple, eat a sub and support our foundation.

Who: Jersey Mike’s Subs – Waxhaw, NC
What: Grand Opening Fundraiser – $2 Donated For Every Coupon Redeemed
When: May 16th-20th
Where: 8121 Kensington Drive, Waxhaw, NC (GET DIRECTIONS)
Why: To Support ISF’s 5 Year, $5 Million Initiative

Available Coupons:

  • Free Regular Sub (No Purchase Necessary!)
  • Buy a Regular Sub Get a Regular Sub FREE!
  • $28.95 Meal Deal – 2 Giant Subs, 4 Chips and (4) 22oz Drinks
  • $2.00 OFF ANY SUB



Charlotte Community Comes Together to Bring $141,141 IMPACT for Pediatric Cancer


Event Photos courtesy of Stikeleather Photography

Our 3rd Annual Coffee for a Cure Events last month were all about creating hope.  Hope for more pediatric cancer options.  Hope for new research.  Hope for families and children fighting this ugly disease.  Over two mornings, we talked about IMPACT, INSPIRATION and LEGACY and how we all can do our part to make things happen.  We are very excited to announce that we raised $141,141 over the course of the two mornings with donations still coming in!

The second week of April was a BIG week for the foundation!  Coffee for a Cure came directly on the heels of announcing our $5 million commitment to Levine Children’s Hospital to establish The Isabella Santos Foundation Rare & Solid Tumor Program at Levine Children’s Hospital.  This program will impact more than just Charlotte as it will be the first of its kind in the United States.  With this $5 million 5-year initiative, we hope to change lives.  We will be the foundation of something special and will have the best pediatric cancer program, right here is Charlotte.  It will take years of fundraising and years of building… but we hope you will join us in this important mission.

Ten years have passed, and we have seen lots of changes in the Isabella Santos Foundation and we are excited for what the future will bring.  The momentum is strong, the focus is broadening, and the mission to help is growing.  Three extremely proud accomplishments include:  1). Over $1 Million raised in 2017  2).  MIBG Suite is in process and to be unveiled Dec 2018 3). Isabella Santos Foundation has DONATED over $2.5 Million to date.  And we could never have made those accomplishments without every single donor, supporter, volunteer or team member.

We also couldn’t have accomplished such milestones without community leaders advocating for pediatric cancer and our foundation.  We are very proud to have some of the best community leaders on our side.  Joining us for another year as our event emcee, Molly Grantham of WBTV has been with us since the beginning and continues to support our foundation’s mission at every turn (and lately there has been a lot of them).  We thank Molly for her constant support and the IMPACT she is making and INSPIRATION she is creating through her #MollysKids work.

During our annual Coffee for a Cure events we look forward to recognizing individuals in our community with the 6th Annual Isabella Santos Award.  Congratulations to Tim McBride, Tom Patania, and Christie Keagy.  Each one of these individuals has made a difference to those around them and continue to do so. They are out to make an impact and inspire change. And we love that they impact and inspire in their own way.  We thank them for the kind individuals they are, the admirable characteristics they embody and all that they have done for the fight against childhood cancer.

To everyone who supports us…we cannot begin to put into words to how grateful that we are for the impact you are helping us make. We are so proud of what we have accomplished together and it is because of YOU.  We hope you will continue to join us.  We are fortunate to live a community that stands behind us.  Thank you to the following businesses who support our mission of fighting childhood cancer and helped us make the 2018 Coffee for a Cure Events possible. 

Event Photos courtesy of Stikeleather Photography



Tory Burch Mother’s Day Event: May 8 6PM

Join the Isabella Santos Foundation for cocktails at Tory Burch (South Park Mall) to celebrate Mother’s Day. Create you own bouquet in the flower shop – plus, personalize a sweater or scarf with a hand-embroidered monogram. Flower bouquet complimentary with any purchase of $250 or more. 20% of the event’s proceeds will benefit the Isabella Santos Foundation and the fight against pediatric cancer.

Can’t make it?  You can call in your order at SouthPark Tory Burch ((704) 366-6427) that evening.  Or make a ‘wish list’ for your husband and have him call in/stop in to purchase your Mother’s day present!

When: May 8, 2018 6:00 PM – 8:00PM
Location: Tory Burch Southpark Mall
Supporting: The Isabella Santos Foundation


Your Cart