Empowering Each Other to Impact Pediatric Cancer

Written by Tim Flanagan, President of MassMutual Carolinas, ISF Sustaining Sponsor

At MassMutual Carolinas, we pride ourselves on being a relationship-driven organization and to inspire others to rely on one another, to give back, and to be interconnected with our families, community and workplace. 

Erin Santos, MassMutual Carolinas “Mentoring Matters” panel

One of our focus areas is supporting the education, advancement and empowerment of women. Through our “Empowering Women” series, we bring together passionate women with a variety of experience and backgrounds to network, collaborate and advance others through relevant topics to grow personally and professionally.

The Isabella Santos Foundation is at the heart of this initiative and embodies what “Empowering Women” is all about. ISF is built on a foundation of strong women – from its staff and volunteers to its supporters – who empower one another and our community to make a tremendous impact on pediatric cancer research and patients. So, we were excited for Erin Santos to serve as a thought leader on our “Mentoring Matters” panel and for ISF to be among the non-profit organizations featured at our “Feeling Philanthropic” event to showcase volunteer opportunities throughout our community.

MassMutual Carolinas, ISF 5K/10K & Fun Run

Just as we are committed to empowering others, ISF has empowered my firm and me. As a Sustaining Sponsor of ISF, all of us at MassMutual Carolinas are honored to be part of this amazing team, to see where the funds are going in our community, and to be continually inspired by the faces of who ISF supports. We are looking forward to getting a big dose of inspiration at the 5K/10K and Fun Run for Kids Cancer; one of our favorite community events. We’ll have a run team and a booth, so stop by and say hi. Look forward to seeing everyone on September 28 and to empowering each other to impact local pediatric cancer patients.

In the meantime, I encourage you to join our “Empowering Women” Facebook Group to get networking event updates and a platform for idea sharing and inspiration. Thanks in advance for being part of this movement to inspire and empower others.

Visit the MassMutual Carolinas website

September 28th is going to be the “BEST DAY EVER!”

Our 5K/10K BRUNCH on September 28 is going to be a no-joke kind of brunch. We aren’t talking about just donuts and simply eggs and bacon. How does chicken and waffle sandwiches with honey hot sauce sound? How about fried green tomatoes with country ham, goat cheese, and pepper jelly? Beignets anyone? That is just a small sample of the incredible brunch menu Firebirds Wood Fired Grill Executive Chef is creating! 

We had so much fun with these cute kiddos and Chef cooking up some scrumptious samples for our 12th Annual 5k,10k & Fun Run for Kids Cancer The kids created beignets. They decorated pancakes. They made the best mess and ate all the sugar. Stay tuned… we will start sharing all the goodness Chef is planning next week. 

Thank you to our presenting sponsor Red Ventures and our Brunch sponsors Firebirds Wood Fired GrillTito’s Handmade Vodka and NoDa Brewing Company for helping us create the best event yet! Special thank you to Chef Chuck Asher and Swanson-Girard & Associates for hosting our messy fun in their kitchen!

Get registered and don’t forget to add on the BRUNCH and drink option when you do:  5kforkidscancer.com

Summer Executive Director Dish

August.  Ahhhh…  I love August.  There are so many things I love about this month.  School is approaching, which means the Fortnite screaming will come to a screeching halt, AND I love being on a schedule and at home.  It’s time. My kids thrive on a schedule and we are all better people with bedtimes and alarms.  Also, vacations are coming to a close, which is a good thing for us here at ISF.  We try to stay motivated all year long, but emails we send tend to sit in an inbox during the months of June and July and usually around mid-August, and then begin to get returned to us much faster and the response time shortens.  We love that. ☺

Erin, Isabella & Grant at ISF 5K for Kids Cancer, 2011

For those of you who have been with us for a while now, you know our fall is the shizzle.  We do everything we can to make our flagship event bigger and better each year … with intention.  I personally love the our 5K/10K race more than any event we do because it is where it all started, which was with Isabella. I remember how excited she was as the event was approaching.  In Isabella style, she would always seem to relapse in August, which meant year after year, our volunteers, friends and loved ones would step up and put on an event to remember for her.  Some years she could run it with hair that could barely be pulled back into pig tails and some years she was pulled in a red wagon, chubby from the steroids of a recent brain relapse.  What I loved year after year was seeing the people who made this foundation what it is today.  I know everyone gets busy and it’s hard to stay involved with us year-round.  But the race was different.  People put it on their calendars, they brought new people each year who would say, “Holy crap?  This isn’t a race… this is festival!” and then those people would come every year after.  I also love seeing the new people who didn’t know her or me and are just blown away by what we do.  It all just gives me goose bumps to know it’s coming up… and it’s coming soon.

So, what can you expect this year?  Look, I’m not just going to say it’s amazing because I’m the Executive Director.  But it’s going to be amazing.  What you will see this year is an added component that we should have done YEARS AGO!  BRUNCH.  And we are not talking about eggs and bacon.  We are talking about a no joke kind of brunch.  We have teamed up with Firebirds, Tito’s Vodka and Noda Brewing Company to give you a brunch like you have never seen.  We are excited to share more Brunch menu items in the coming weeks, but here’s just a sample of what your taste buds may experience…

  • Chicken and Waffle Sandwiches with honey hot sauce
  • Smoked Pork and scrambled egg tacos with jack cheese and avocado pico
  • Beignets
  • Shrimp and Grits with Tasso Gravy
  • Muffuletta Sandwiches
  • Fried Green Tomatoes with Country ham, Goat Cheese & Pepper Jelly
  • Biscuit Avocado Toast with a Poached Egg
  • Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit
  • Kid’s Pancake & Doughnut Stations
Chicken and Waffle Sandwiches with honey hot sauce

Not to mention, a whole host of brunch drinks provided by Tito’s and Noda Brewing.  Bloody Mary’s anyone? 

So, for those of you who kick out the 5k/10k and try to fill your belly with Chick-Fil-A like you have in years past, you can still do that. and much more. Now, you have the opportunity to REALLY FILL THAT BELLY, and for those of you who don’t want to walk or run, you can just buy the brunch and chill, while your kids play in the Kids Zone and you bid on auction items.  Yeah, it’s going to be the shizzle as we say.  But you will need a brunch wristband, so you betta get one.

Be warned.  Tickets for the brunch are going to be more expensive on the day of, so don’t let the smells of the morning be the trigger.  Get on it now.  Register for the race, buy the brunch.  Be there.  This is going to be our best one yet.  Thank you to our title sponsor Red Ventures and BRUNCH sponsors who are helping us make this year epic.  Go to 5kforkidscancer.com for all the details.

And of course, none of this can happen without your support, so reach out to us!  Volunteer, help with the auction, buy something for us on #WishWednesday, create a team of runners, fundraise on our behalf, spread the word, bring your whole neighborhood, sponsor the race.  Just do something.  My team of women are working to the bone to blow you all away and sometimes just a little help from your friends goes a long way and motivates us even more.  

We can’t wait to see you all on September 28th.  You’ll find me in the brunch zone with a drink in hand – I mean… it all goes to charity, right?

Thanks for the support over all these years!

Erin Santos, Isabella’s Mommy



#WishWednesday is back! Two of our biggest events are coming up and we pride ourselves in creating the best auctions in the city for both our September 5K/10K event and our October Pumpkin Charity Ball.  2 events… that’s a heck of a lot of stuff.  Our ISF Auction Committee is hard at work, and we can’t make this happen without your generous support.  

Participating in #WishWednesday is an easy way to give back quickly from your computer or taking your child shopping to pick out items to donate. We count on our supporters every year to help us create amazing packages. Every #WishWednesday we will focus on a specific type of item that you can shop easily from our Amazon Wish List. If you prefer to go to Target or another store, you can mail it to us at the below address. Or just want to send an Amazon Gift Card, we are appreciative of it all! SHOP FOR ISF


Attn: Erica Stawick

Isabella Santos Foundation

9935-D Rea Road #275

Charlotte, NC 28277

JULY 24 #WISHWEDNESDAY: Amazon Gift Cards! These are great to help us hand pick specific items to create amazing packages!

JULY 31 #WISHWEDENESDAY: All things LEGOS. Marvel Superheroes, Disney Princess, Friends and Toy Story. Pick out a Lego favorite.

AUGUST 7 #WISHWEDNESDAY: All things VIDEO GAMES: Video games… we love and hate them! But if they bring in bucks for our upcoming auctions… we will love them! Xbox gift cards, Playstation gift cards and video games.  Get a few friends to go in together on a Xbox Console… we would love for you to get creative in helping us create amazing packages for our upcoming Sept & Oct auction packages.

AUGUST 14 #WISHWEDNESDAY: All things MUSIC! Whether you listen to country or pop, rap or rock, we need your help! We are asking for some of our favorite music accessories: Beats, AirPods, iTunes/Apple music gift cards, bluetooth speakers, you name it! Share with us your favorite way to rock or dance it out! 🎧