In Honor of You, DJM

Madison, I wish I could be naming all your new stuffed animals with you right now, so instead I just bought a flamingo and unicorn Squishmallow that I can hold every night. 

Madison was the kind of person that people meet once and are immediately connected to. She was a kid that impacted more in her 7 years than some people do in a lifetime. She had the sweetest voice you have ever heard. What I would do to hear, “Ms. Meredith, I love you”  just one more time.

Then I think about Laura (ironically my mom’s name), Riley (ironically my middle name), and Mickey who are the most loving, giving, selfless, and determined family I ever met in Charlotte. The kind of family I would want to have one day. How could this happen to them? 

It doesn’t make sense and we will never stop missing you, but we are taking action for you and your family. I’m on the ISF board and will be part of the team focusing on raising funds for osteosarcoma trials. We are going to make sure that we find a cure for kids like you with rare pediatric cancers — all in honor of you, DJ M. 🎶  

We used to dance to “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana every time she came into Seacrest Studios (we got some pretty incredible moves I must say so). A pretty perfect song for both of us, because there are no limits to how far I’ll go to fight for you and to find a cure for osteosarcoma. #TeamMadison and #TeamISF are behind you forever. 

Together we can help kids Beat Cancer, Grow Hair, and Live Their Dreams.


Meredith, ISF Board Member

Tribute. Legacy. Honor

This picture was taken on the morning of December 23, 2019 as we presented $650,000 to the Levine Children’s oncology team.  This particular morning was incredibly special to me for several reasons, not only because of the big dollar signs.

Many of you know, I lost my mom suddenly on November 3rd, to ovarian cancer. The holidays were thrown right on top of that, so these last few months have rubbed my family raw. The outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming with almost $10,000 donated to ISF in honor of my Mom.  Amid so much pain and grief, each donation brought a little unexpected joy to our broken hearts.

My family was in town for the holidays, so I asked my Dad to go with the team up to the hospital to present this check.  Afterall, almost $10,000 of that check included all of Mom’s tributes we received at the end of the year. I also thought it would be great to show him the place and the people I work so passionately for, day in and day out. Dad was thrilled and asked if we could head up a little early to visit with Merritt and her parents since they were in clinic that morning.

Why did my Dad want to visit with Merritt and her family?  He wanted to personally say ‘Thank You’ to them for attending my Mom’s Celebration of Life.   To say, ‘Thank You’ for driving 10+ hours round trip across the state for a woman they have never met. To say ‘Thank You’ for honoring her and paying tribute to her. And to say ‘Thank You’ for supporting us. It was so thoughtful that they took the time to support our family during such a difficult time. 

Thinking back to December 23rd as being incredibly special, is an understatement. For me it signified strength, healing, love, guidance, family, encouragement, lasting legacy, change and so much more.  A full circle moment for us celebrating my Mom’s life in a special way and giving my Dad the opportunity to say ‘Thank You’ to a cancer family I support… that is now supporting us. In hindsight, it would have meant the world if my Dad was in the picture with us, but just his being there meant everything.  

Tribute. Legacy. Honor… all words you will hear us say A LOT this year at ISF.  We are so excited for what’s to come, because every move we make in 2020 will be in honor of someone special.  We want to help turn all the pain into change for kids fighting cancer.  

Together we can help kids Beat Cancer, Grow Hair,  and Live Their Dreams.

Much Love,

Rachel, ISF Marketing Director

2020… The Year of Change

Things are changing around here and we couldn’t be more excited about the direction we are headed. We are updating our brand, our logo, our mission and our giving strategy. Rest assured, we are staying on the same path as always, but we want you, as our supporter and donor, to have the opportunity to give to the area of our mission that speaks to you the most. Some of you might have a tie to a specific cancer, a strong feeling to help fund a trial in tribute of a loved one or simply believe in donating to give pediatric cancer lasting change. Whatever it is, we want you to feel good about the impact you are helping to make.

Our primary focus will continue to be on developing the ISF Rare and Solid Tumor Program at Levine Children’s. The only way to implement true change in the outcome of kids fighting rare pediatric cancer is through science and we believe Levine Children’s is on the brink of cultivating change here in Charlotte and beyond. But, we also know that there are so many pieces to the rare pediatric puzzle. Our vision is to inspire a 360 degree impact for these kids… from diagnosis, to treatment and ultimately, to survivorship. 

Behind the scenes, our team has been working through this vision for quite awhile and talking about a way to piece it all together. At the end of 2019, ISF was rocked to the core with the deaths of two very special kids…Madison Fedak and Corey Morgan. So in honor of them, we have selected national tribute grants to focus on during the first quarter to help impact Osteosarcoma and Ewing Sarcoma, the two rare cancers that they fought so bravely against. For us, this is just the beginning. 

We are so excited to release what we have spent months working on in honor of all the Isabellas, Madisons, Coreys, Brinns, Merritts, Nicholoas’ and Maxs out there! Stay tuned, we have so much to share next month. 

Together we can help kids Beat Cancer, Grow Hair, and Live Their Dreams.

$7,500 Granted to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for DIPG Research

Family time and making memories is what the Barron family, whose daughter has DIPG, cherishes the most.  Thank you to Small Hands Big Art for inviting 4-year old DIPG warrior, Mackenzie, and her family in 2019 to their children’s art studio to create beautiful keepsake items.  A fun and family filled afternoon lead to several priceless art pieces for the family to hold close to their hearts forever.  We were fortunate enough to snag extra custom pieces of art to auction off at our 2019 Pumpkin Charity Ball at the end of October! 

$7,500 was raised during our live auction from the two beautiful pieces of art the Barron girls created!  Right before 2019 closed out we were excited to grant this $7,500 to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Hematology And Oncology Unit for DIPG research.  Mackenzie is currently participating in a DIPG trial at Cincinnati Children’s and this grant was made in her honor!

More about these paintings:  Mackenzie’s painting was inspired by rainbow arches and the girls selected a variety of joyful colors to paint with.  Mackenzie’s favorite spot on the paint was a section of pink and white rainbow arches towards one of the longer edges that is reminiscent of a flower.  This piece was created with Acrylic Paint.

Read more on DIPG warrior, Mackenzie, and her family.

Private Benefit Dinner Raises $24,050 for Pediatric Cancer Research

Carl Showalter, owner of Showalter Construction, decided to take action and create impact for pediatric cancer through his network of friends and coworkers. Carl hosted a private benefit dinner at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse inviting 30 of his friends to introduce them to ISF and our mission. An event that cost us ZERO dollars or coordination… we just showed up to enjoy great food, company and conversation. This private dinner brought in $24,050 for rare pediatric cancer research.

We are so thankful for Carl’s generosity and for all the gentlemen who were interested in hearing more about what we are doing to bring change for kids fighting cancer right here in Charlotte. An incredible evening!

What a great example of how donors can take initiative and create impact for kids fighting cancer. Host a small dinner party or simply a in-home cocktail hour with your network. Interested in talking more about private benefit events, contact Chrissy, ISF Developement Director.