Spreading Love to Everyone Who #CancerMessedWith

Thank you for helping us spread so much love last week to everyone who #cancermessedwith. The Cancer Messed With brand was designed to give anyone a way to rally behind a loved one affected by cancer. A way to show them love and to help life them up when they need it the most. Not just during love week… but every day.

Buy your Cancer Messed With shirt or hat: cancermessedwith.com 

DWTS Blog #3: Seriously, why did I sign up for this again?

Written by Erin Santos, ISF Executive Director & President

Current status… not in last place.  I’m in second to last place.  Thanks to some sponsorship funds from Barings, DHG and Fifth Third Bank and some serious votes coming in from my friends at Levine – I have slowly moved to almost $47,000.  I’m a far cry from these 2 gentlemen who are well over $200,000.  (Which is honestly incredible.)   But I find myself being a little less depressed with my current number.  I have lots of people reaching out to me, asking how they can help.  Sadly, my answer is only to vote – because that’s all that moves my needle.  So, ask your friends, ask your friends who own businesses, or anyone really!  Every single vote counts.  

I also have 10 tickets still on hold, but I lose them to the general public  TOMORROW on February 14th.  So, all of you last minute people who want to come (and those ticket dollars count as votes), here are the instructions on how to get them.

Instructions for how to purchase from the held back tickets

1.    Please visit the website here and make a donation of at least $350 to equal one Gold ticket, $700 for 2 Gold tickets, etc. Once the transaction is received it will be recoded from donation to tickets.

2.    Within the guest names field please indicate “Gold Ticket Purchase” and the names of the guests using the tickets.

Day?  I have lost count… so now I will just ramble.

I love my drive up to DWTS rehearsal because I take the 30 minutes to blare the music in my car and walk through all the steps in my head.  Not to give anything away on my actual performance but today I’m playing the song “Baby Got Back” so loud my windows are shaking.  For those of you who know me, you know this was once my go to Karaoke song.  I absolutely HATE Karaoke and had such a horrible performance of this song maybe 8 years ago that I swore it off forever.  But this song has still been in heavy rotation in my house for years because I think it’s absolutely hilarious.  Now, if you ever look in my house windows – what you will find is probably me in the kitchen dancing to the most ridiculous songs.  My kids and I have always had no shame in busting out moves just about anywhere.  I dance all the time in the house, the car, the shower – everywhere.  And I’m raising kids that do the same.  My son is kind of an awesome dancer too and will break out today’s hottest moves on the sidelines of the football field, at a nice restaurant – anywhere.  Kind of like his mom.  Sophia has some moves too and we are constantly trying to get her to quit the Dab.  I find that her moves tend to be a little too sexy for her age too.  Yikes.  I’m probably to blame for this.  

But this Sir Mix a Lot song brings me back to my other child.  Bless her heart.  Isabella was quite possibly the WORST dancer of all time.  This girl had a beat in her head that was nothing like what was actually playing.  However, she didn’t give a damn.  This bald child in a dress would dance and dance, all while carrying a tune that was so off key that it was difficult to be around.  But one thing is for sure – dancing made her so happy.  We would have garage parties with our neighbors, blaring the most child inappropriate songs over the speaker with bottles of wine around us.  Occasionally one of us would get up and bust a move, but she would always trump us with her horrible white girl moves.  We would cheer her on and giggle under our breathe and she ate it all up.  It makes me chuckle just thinking about it.  So, while you may think a 42-year-old Mom from the burbs of Charlotte, dancing on stage to Baby Got Back is weird.  Just know all these songs have meanings and memories of a little 7-year-old girl that knew every word (even though she shouldn’t) and danced her little heart out beside me in the kitchen as the songs played through my house.  I think she would have loved me being up there on stage and really make a total ass of myself.  But she would also sit in her seat and find a beat with her foot on the ground and probably laugh knowing these are all the songs we would dance to in the kitchen as I made dinner too.  

Now on to the dancing… or at least what kind of looks like dancing.

Day 12

It’s time to start piecing this routine together.  I can do each little 30 second part but now Juwan is making me add a song or two together.  Wait one minute of straight dancing?  After a full 60 seconds I find that I’m winded.  Wait add another 30 second piece?  After 90 seconds of this routine, my heart is beating out of my chest and I collapse to the floor at the end of each round.  How do these dancers to do this?  Juwan tells me to kick my cardio up a gear – which I take in stride.  My birthday was February 2nd and I can honestly say that my cardio has been on a sliding scale the past week as my alcohol consumption has increased.  I mean you only turn 42, once right?  Ok ok… back to Orange Theory.  

Day 13

Here we go on putting the entire routine together.  Luckily Juwan cuts me a break and tell me that we will just walk the routine a couple of times in its entirety until my body just goes into muscle memory so I don’t get scared.  I find that this is becoming easier.  I don’t have to think about the steps, my body is just doing it.  I’m doing so well that we start practicing with the music.  Okay, now I’m winded but it’s actually happening.  Great.  Now instead of skipping all the stunts, we are actually going to do them too.  Holy crap.  Each time we go through the 3 ½ minutes – I’m getting better.  Sure, there are mistakes, but Juwan just yells – KEEP GOING!  I just keep going, each round has less and less mistakes.  Hmmm…. This is actually coming together.  Still winded.  

Day 14


Thankfully, the most awesome stylist in town Whitley Hamlin (Queen City Style), has agreed to help style me for the gala.  I love this because sometimes it can be hard for me to crank up the sophistication.  Her peeps at Neiman Marcus have stepped up to help and we start chatting about possibilities.  The fact that I don’t have to think about this piece is really saving me.  Juwan and I have been chatting about performance outfits for a while and have been coming up empty so taking this off my plate helps.  I decided to sit down at my computer and start ordering stuff online.  Let’s pray when it arrives, something speaks to us.  It’s also an added difficulty when you and your partner are trying to match.  Did I mention that I’m a 5’5 mom and he is like an 8-foot-tall ballet dancer?  Yeah… 

Day 15

It’s Saturday night and we have a birthday dinner organized with some friends uptown.  Juwan has a performance that night but has assured me that he and his fella will meet us out after.  I drag my crowd to Dandelion Market where we are WAAAAY too old to be.  I care zero.  I want to dance like I’m 22 and I’m not leaving until they turn on the lights.  Juwan shows up around 11 with his man and I’m so happy I can barely stand it.  We dance and dance and dance like no one is watching until my boyfriend (who dances ZERO), finally pulls me out my arm a little after 1.  I haven’t had a night like this in so long and I loved every minute of it.  Now, while we weren’t necessarily practicing our routine, this night of dancing took me to another level of being comfortable with Juwan.  It’s hard to dance in front of someone – it took a while for me to loosen up with him.  But we are becoming little dance partners – I may even say he is my favorite dance partner ever.  And this is exactly where I wanted to be with him at this point.

Day 16

I got the routine down.  Now it just needs flare.  It’s one thing to have the steps but it’s another to dance the steps as good as Juwan does it.  We may have spent 20 minutes having him walk me through how to get my ass to “twerk”.  I still don’t have it.  I may have googled it when I got home that night and worked on it in my kitchen.  I’m less winded, it starting to not look like a mom from the suburbs.  I’m doing moves and Juwan is saying, “YES!  YES!  That’s it!”.  Confidence is building.  We are laughing, it’s working and I’m loving it.. minus the twerk.

Now I know rehearsing in an empty studio is one thing, on stage is another.  Next week he stops allowing me to watch myself in the mirror and will start picking at every little thing.  He’s going to eat my “twerk” alive.  I will continue to practice in my kitchen.  Also, my kids are starting to learn my routine.  Grant may have it better than I do.  Where is Isabella when I need her???

More performance outfits arrive.  One is baller – and I think we may have found it.  Now time to accessorize.  How is this performance just 2 weeks away.

And vote already.  I’m twerking and that’s got to be worth something right?

Erin’s DWTS Blog #1

Erin’s DWTS Blog #2

Event site: gala.charlotteballet.org

Providence Plastic Surgery Botox Charity Event- EXTENDED TO MARCH 1ST

PARTNER CHARITY EVENT  |  Click here to purchase online


Providence Plastic Surgery & Skin Center is giving back to the Charlotte pediatric cancer community! During this limited time offer, February 16-23, you can purchase up to 250 units of Botox at $10 per unit with $5 per unit benefiting the Isabella Santos Foundation. An easy way to make an impact and raise funds for rare pediatric cancer right here in Charlotte.

Botox Charity Event with Providence Plastic Surgery & Skin Center, February 16-23

The ISF Skinny – February 2019 Edition

We have a lot going on at ISF and one of our 2019 goals is to better communicate to our donors and supporters.  But everyone’s busy, so we want to make it easy and quick for you to catch up! We are excited to bring you our new monthly newsletter, ISF SKINNY MINUTE, to help keep you updated on all things happening in and around the foundation.

Each month we will give you the skinny on what you missed, what to watch for in the coming months and how you can help.  A couple highlights from this month’s ISF SKINNY:

Executive Director Dish:  Erin Santos shares what ISF is focusing on this year, changes to the foundation and why she couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come.

Missed It:  We saw lots of great things happen in the 4th quarter of 2018. Catch up on all of them, like the first patient who was successfully treated in the new MIBG room, ISF featured in the Charlotte Observer’s Unsung Heroes series and Erin among the 2019 honorees in Charlotte Business Journal’s Women in Business Achievement.

Watch For It:  2019 ISF Events and Partner Events

Share It: Valentine’s week is here and we want to spread love to cancer patients everywhere! Help us by pulling out your Cancer Messed With gear and post a photo in your shirt or hat, tag our social channels with #cancermessedwith when you do.


February Executive Director Dish

Executive Director Update, February 2019, Written by Erin Santos

I can’t believe we are hitting mid-February!  For us here at ISF, January hits us like a ton of bricks.  We had such a busy 4th quarter with the MIBG opening and trying to squeeze every last donation into our 2018 year, by the time December 18th hit – I told the girls to enjoy the holidays.  I mean check in… but catch up on your lives because January would be no joke.  Luckily the gears keep moving and we saw lots of great things come in at the end of the year with PR including being featured as a Charlotte Unsung Hero, our first family in the MIBG room and our total amount raised beating last year by 30%.  

But, that is all behind us now.  January hit us hard.  We decided to change up pretty much everything we did from how we run our meetings, where we run our meetings, how we organize work, how we capture donors and even our website will be turned upside down.  All things that needed to happen to go back to our idea we discuss all the time about working smarter not harder.  My team is more organized and stronger than it has ever been.  Need I say, we actually work like a real grown up charity these days.  I love it.  

We also took a moment to think about what was important to the Foundation.  For us, our goal this year is to continue to spread our brand awareness in the Charlotte community and really diversify our revenue stream.  Who doesn’t know about ISF?  Apparently, a lot of people – and we are going to change that.  You know those businesses that you just happen to see everywhere you go like Atrium Health or OrthoCarolina.  Yeah, that’s going to be us.   Have you seen my involvement with the Charlotte Ballet’s Dancing with the Stars Program?  That’s just not about me wanting to get in shape.  The reason we are doing it is to gain awareness in the community.  All those people sitting in the audience who support the arts and have never heard of ISF.  Not anymore.  Let’s just say that once the night is over, they are definitely going to know who we are.  I may just kill myself in the process.  Click here to support me.

Diversifying our revenue streams… what do I mean here?  Man are we event heavy.  And do you know what is expensive?  Events.  There are so many ways for funds to come into a charity such as grants, beneficiary events, 3 wish circle members and more peer to peer fundraising.  I’m sure you think, oh man… there is ISF asking me to raise money for them again.  But do you know why we ask?  Because it is the most efficient way for us to achieve our goals.  Studies have shown that people will give to charities because their friends give to that charity.  So if someone knows you think we are pretty cool… they may start to think we are pretty cool too.  Pretty simple.  Oh and just as an example of our beneficiary events… have you heard about the Jersey Mike’s Give Back Day coming up in March?  Yeah?  Try $130,000 in one day.  We love ourselves some Jersey Mikes and we are now their biggest sub eaters.  

Events.  Of course we know we put on killer events.  (Brushing my shoulders off here… yes, Rachel our Marketing Director is rolling her eyes and cringing at my use of words and arrogance right now)  However, events need to stay fresh.  So that’s why we are constantly thinking of new ways to bring you our signature event to you such as our Coffee for a Cure, the 5k and 10k and don’t forget our Gala this year that is going to be INSANE!  Don’t worry, the same ole’ ISF feel will be there – but you know we gotta turn it up a notch, or two.

Another big focus of ours is expanding our community support.  Businesses have always been so great to us as an organization.  Our latest addition, Kerry Winslow, is taking on Corporate Philanthropy while Karen Murphy has stepped into Sponsorships and Partnerships.  They have a big year ahead of them on communicating to the Charlotte business on why they should support us.  While we have great events, the mission and what we are doing with building this Rare and Solid Tumor Program at Levine over the next 5 years is something unheard of in pediatric cancer in the US.    And we are bringing it here to Charlotte… can you think of something cooler to put your business name on?  I can’t.

Speaking of business.  Have you met our board?  Because we basically have the coolest board in town.  It’s going to double in the next couple of months with some of the brightest and best people in Charlotte stepping on.  With this group behind us, we can accomplish anything.  Thank you to the following who have stepped on and looking forward to the others who will be joining us in the coming months:

  • Sandra Szoke, Impact Marketing
  • Blair Primis, OrthoCarolina
  • Suzie Ford, NoDa Brewing
  • Matt Yarmey, Pure Intentions
  • Dr. Jennifer Pope, Levine Children’s Hospital
  • Tim Miner, Charlotte is Creative
  • Becky Berolatti, New Dominion Bank
  • Jennifer Ross, Accounting Consultant

Our last “little” project coming at you in 2019 is Cancer Messed With.  We love this brand and all the things we are doing with it.  These soft vintage shirts are hitting the streets of Charlotte and nationwide and we love seeing people in them.  Sadly, everyone is affected by cancer and we want to show cancer it messed with the wrong person, family, mother, guy, kid… whoever.  We are stronger than cancer.  We want you all to get one for someone you love, have your business come together to show a co-worker who is battling that you are behind them… whatever the case may be.  We find that we feel just a little stronger when we have our CMW on, and you will too.

Sure, this ED update may be a little arrogant, but you know what?  I’m EXCITED!  I find that I’m working harder than ever and I’m loving my job and the people I have around me.  Every single day this is about Isabella and that will never change for me.  But I don’t expect it to always be about her for you.  My hope is that you will want to be involved with what we are doing because it makes you really feel like you are doing something is REALLY making a difference.  That’s what we are doing here, I hope you can see it and I hope you want join us.

Looking forward to updating you each and every month on what we are doing here at ISF.  I can’t wait to share.

Love, Erin (Isabella’s Mommy oh yeah… and Executive Director)