Brighthouse Financial Supporting Charlotte Charity With Childhood Cancer Mission

Thank you to Brighthouse Financial for being an incredible partner to our foundation and continuing your Presenting Sponsorship status or our 10th Annual 5k/10k and 1 mile fun run for Kids Cancer for the second year!  We have been so thankful for the commitment and dedication this company has given to supporting the Isabella Santos Foundation and helping us make a difference for kids fighting cancer.  We simply could not do what we do without the community support behind our foundation.

“In January 2016, MetLife announced plans to pursue the separation of a substantial portion of its U.S Retail segment through a public offering of shares, a spin-off, or a sale.  The separation would allow MetLife to focus on businesses that have lower capital requirements and greater cash generation potential.  As an independent company, U.S Retail would benefit from greater focus, more flexibility in products and operations, and a reduced capital and compliance burden.

MetLife employees, 2016 ISF Race

This past June, the new company, named Brighthouse Financial, received regulatory and board of director approval to disaffiliate through a spin-off on August 4, and began trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market on August 7.

Brighthouse Financial is on a mission to help people achieve financial security.  Our world is changing every day; a company pension is the exception, not the rule, and reaching your 90th birthday isn’t unusual.  In these uncertain times, preparing for your retirement has never been so important.  We specialize in annuities and life insurance; two essential products that help protect what you’ve earned and ensure it lasts.  They work in tandem with the rest of your portfolio.

MeLife and Brighthouse Financial have a longstanding partnership with the Isabella Santos Foundation (ISF).  We have participated in the Isabella Santos Foundation Race each year since we moved to Charlotte in 2013, and 2017 marks our second year as Presenting Sponsor.  We also hosted an internship consulting project with ISF in the summer of 2016 and are excited to have raised over $50,000 for ISF through our Annual Community Golf Classic which benefited ISF in 2015 and 2017.”  – Apryl Silva, Real Estate & Community Relations

Ports, bald head and scars…

“This picture that was taken of Isabella always makes me smile. We had just moved back to Charlotte from New York City in the fall after a brain relapse that sent us into a tailspin. The mass on her brain forced emergency surgery, followed by a chemo and radiation regiment that meant moving our whole family for 4 months to the city. If you look closely, you will see the port that was placed just under her skin on top of her head. This port was connected to veins in her central nervous system so a drug called 8H9 could bathe her entire brain and spinal cord with a life saving treatment. (This 8H9 drug developed by Dr. Kim Kramer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has since received national recognition as one of leading new drugs for relapsed neuroblastoma.) In this picture Isabella has yet to receive her first dose of 8H9, but the relapse that once frightened us to our core had 4 months of treatment under its belt and was doing amazingly well. This port would be used in just a couple of months while Isabella was in remission to kill any microscopic cells that may still remain. I was there for a test treatment and was blown away as she calmly sat in her hospital bed while Dr. Kramer inserted a needle into the port and sent fluid through her CNS to ensure the port was working correctly. She looked at me with wide eyes as I sat next to her holding her hand. After 15 minutes of treatment, the needle was removed and she went about playing per usual as if nothing had happened. She would receive 3 of these treatments in the next couple of months but we decided as a family to remove me from the treatment due to possible radiation exposure. My Mom of course stepped in exposed herself, selfless as always. We wanted to have another baby and felt like it was safer for me to be away. I got pregnant that January.
That little port never bothered her as you can tell from this smile. As a parent your eye always caught it, but you knew it was imperative to her survival. The port stayed with her the rest of her life. I always wished they had taken it out, but like her bald head and scars… it just became part of who she was. We took her lead and just became happy to have every day with her – who cared about that port? She sure didn’t.” -Isabella’s Mommy
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Lake Norman Coffee for a Cure Brings in Over $35,000 for Pediatric Cancer Research

2017 Lake Norman Coffee for a Cure. Photo courtesy of

Our 2nd annual Coffee for a Cure hosted by our ISF Lake Norman chapter was a huge success.  Thank you to the 250 men and women who attended and the sponsors and local businesses who gave time and money to this event.  This event served as a call to action in the fight against pediatric cancer and to educate community members on the importance of bringing pediatric cancer treatments home to Charlotte.  We were able to raise $35,000 and donations have continued to come in.  These funds bring us one step closer to our 2017 $1,000,000 fundraising goal to fund the creation of a MIBG room at Levine Children’s Hospital.

Our Lake Norman chapter could not put on such a wonderful event if it wasn’t for the support of our community businesses who help us through their sponsorship. It is through their passion for charitable giving and making a local impact that we are able to continue Isabella’s fight. Thank you to the following businesses:

2017 Lake Norman Coffee for a Cure. Photos courtesy of

During the event, we introduced our new major gift society, called The Three Wish Circle, with an annual gift of $5000 or more, donors can take their support of the ISF mission to the next level by funding more research for childhood cancer and help to bring innovative treatment options to our local community.  If you have questions or want to know more about how to take your support to the next level, contact our ISF Development Director, Tia Wackerhagen.

We cannot begin to put words to how grateful that we are for the impact you are helping us make, thank you for your support.. We are so proud of what we have accomplished together and it is because of YOU. We could not do this alone and could not continue our fight without your help. We humbly thank each of you and look forward to a world with no more cancer where we will beat cancer, grow hair and live the dreams of all children fighting the fight.

We appreciate Local Scroll Charlotte for capturing the event, view all photos of the 2017 Lake Norman Coffee for a Cure.

Charlotte Community Fitness Classes Benefiting Childhood Cancer

During the month of September in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, our Dream Team members partner with local Charlotte fitness studios in an effort to raise funds for pediatric cancer.  What better way to help fight childhood cancer while getting a great workout in!  Most classes will simply ask for a suggested monetary donation (in lieu of class fee).  See below offered classes, RSVP today, and support your community fitness studios:

ORANGETHEORY | OTF Ballantyne Fitness Class benefiting ISF

September 10, 2017 @ 1:00pm  |  More Info
OrangeTheory Ballantyne, 14825 Ballantyne Village Way (Ballantyne)

REVUP | Core Revolution Indoor Cycle Class benefiting ISF

September 13, 2017 @ 6:30pm  |  More Info
Core Revolution, 16721 Orchard Stone Run (South Charlotte)

VIBE5 | Yoga Class benefiting ISF

September 23, 2017 @ 2:00pm  |  More Info
VIBE5, 720 Governor Morrison St. (SouthPark)

ENLIGHTEN YOGA | Yoga Class benefiting ISF

October 1, 2017 @ 5:45pm
Enlighten Yoga,9852 Rea Road (Blakney)

ORANGETHEORY | OTF Arboretum Fitness Class benefiting ISF

October 15, 2017 @ 1:30pm
OrangeTheory Arboretum

He wasn’t there in the beginning or the end…

Written by Erin Santos, Isabella’s Mommy

It’s been a long 5 years but relationships are growing and changing at Levine Children’s Hospital.  I’ve gone from admiration and love, to fear and anxiety and then back again with these doctors.  The walls and people that once crippled me upon entering after Isabella’s death have become a second home to me.  I know I can joke a lot about how a large donation commitment can buy you a hospital friendship, but it’s become much more than that.  I feel like I have become so much stronger around them.  Just a few years ago, I could barely stand without my knees buckling when I knew Dr. Kaplan was going to be at an ISF event.  Then, this past July – I find myself in the oncology clinic helping give gifts to the kids for our Christmas in July event.  I feel  him coming down the hall before I even see him, just like it used to be –  and my heart still stops for a minute.  We exchange pleasantries and hugs – like you do with an old boyfriend who you run into at a Starbucks years later.  It’s uncomfortable because there was history… but it’s becoming more comfortable because there IS history.  Not sure if I can ever feel totally comfortable around him – but I’m trying really hard.

Luckily, my new contact at Levine isn’t my old boyfriend Dr. Kaplan  🙂  As I sat in the “Green Room” of the NBC Charlotte news studio this week for over an hour with Dr. Javier Osterheld (one of Isabella’s past oncologists), I found myself comfortable and enjoying the company. We were together to talk on air about the MIBG treatment room ISF is funding at Levine’s.  We talked about all things cancer, the hospital, family, beer and other things that might be tad inappropriate.  I found myself laughing and enjoying the company of a man who I wasn’t the biggest fan of several years ago.  Cancer can make you love and hate people all in the same week.  He is easier for me because we don’t have the 5 year history that I had with Kaplan.  He wasn’t there in the beginning or the end.

We talked about his training with Isabella’s Dream Team and I asked him how many half-marathons he had done in the past.  His answer… “This is my first.  And I’m doing it for you and Isabella.”  Maybe he was bullied into doing it at first, but maybe he’s just really an amazing guy and we lose that vision of these doctors when they give us horrible news about our children.  It brought me back to my ‘Why I loved Him’ blog post  about how you go through these feelings of total admiration for these people because your child’s life is in their hands.  You put this God-like complex on them and they don’t ask for that.  In the end, they really are just normal people who like you have jobs they love and are just trying to save the life of kids.  But they are also people who drink beer, and make fun of themselves and laugh and cuss… just like you.
I find that through Isabella’s death, new things come to life, like friendships with people you once hated that were really only trying to save her.  I can see them all more clearly now – and they are all amazing people.