New Decade. New Look.

New decade. New look. ISF is evolving and growing.  Just like Isabella would be if she were still here. She would be thinking about her future, getting ready to drive, maybe even getting a job… she’d be growing up. 

And The Isabella Santos Foundation is too.  We are beyond excited about the direction ISF is heading. Every detail from our logo and the colors we use, to our mission and our giving program is evolving with intention and purpose behind every element.   

Hello new logo…

As we evolve as a foundation and honestly as a team, we are feeling a little emotional as we say goodbye to our little girl logo. She has been with us from the beginning and she has shown up in all that we have done to get to this point. 

Over 12 years ago we started with our first logo, an innocent and childlike stick girl, a simple representation of Isabella as she was first diagnosed with cancer. What started out as a stick figure little girl in which Isabella could easily draw and color, became a symbol of her legacy. 

In the beginning it was only about her.  That simple logo moved and shaped into a life of its own.  We have seen her running, drawing and perched up proud at every event and fundraiser and has occupied a front row spot on everything we would print.  Our little girl evolved to a ‘Girl on the World’ because that is how we saw Isabella.  And while It started with her, she is still changing the world. But as we grow, we have realized it has become about others. Others just like her.

It was Isabella’s dream to “Beat cancer, grow hair, and live my dreams.” ISF was founded in her name and dedicates itself to expanding its impact to others, so kids with rare cancers have a fighting chance. It has become about all of them. It is so they can run, draw and take a front row spot at their favorite event. Isabella is the legacy and will always be our little girl. In order to continue changing the world…she would want our focus to be on them.

Updated mission, updated purpose…

You never know you need a foundation like ISF, until it’s too late. As parents focus on fighting for their child, we are working to bring change.  

Over the past 12 years ISF has granted nearly $4 million toward expanding the scope of research and treatment, and supporting families dealing with cancer in a variety of ways.

  • $1.9M+ donated to Levine Children’s (tag)
  • $1.2M+ donated to National Pediatric Cancer Trials & Studies
  • $500K+ donated in Family Support

Our relentless pursuit to help kids Beat Cancer, Grow Hair and Live Their Dreams in Isabella’s honor requires tremendous support from the community and from our donors. Our vision is to inspire a 360 degree impact for kids fighting rare cancers… from diagnosis, to treatment and ultimately, to survivorship.

Introducing the Beat. Grow. Live. Targeted Giving Program which will give you the ability to directly support how you want to impact the fight against pediatric cancer. Whether you 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 speaks to you, we want you to feel the impact of your donation.

Beat Cancer, Investing in Rare Pediatric Cancer Research, 70% of our Mission

Grow Hair, Improving Trials & Studies, 20% of our Mission

Live My Dreams, Supporting Families Affected by Cancer, 10% of our Mission

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.

Love,

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.

It’s a New Decade Executive Director Dish

Here we are in a new year, a new decade!  I have to say, our team at ISF is ready for a fresh start.  2019 brought so many ups and downs for us, by the time the ball was dropping, I was left feeling a little unsettled from the year we just completed.  Each year we try so many different things to grab your attention. I made it a point to pull Isabella back a little and have us introduce you to what was going on in your backyard.  Our Mother’s Day series was our first attempt to really get to know the families at Levine and I was reminded of what a difficult job these Moms (and Dads) have on a daily basis. From this series, new friendships were developed and bonds were formed, as our staff became regulars in the hospital.  

September rolled around and I couldn’t be more proud of what we accomplished for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  I have to say, hands down – the “Through My Eyes Series” that our beloved Rachel Wood took the lead on, changed many of you forever.  Our team too. I’m not quite sure she realized what she was taking on, as so many families were eager to tell their stories about what their world looks like as they fight for their lives.  The response was overwhelming, as each post affected people differently. We showed you different cancers, different ages, different prognosis and in the end… different outcomes. It has become a series we will do each year because it changed the way we do everything here at ISF.

To complete the month, we changed the look and feel of Isabella’s race in its 12th year, thanks to the help of Firebirds, Tito’s Vodka and Noda Brewing Company.  The addition of the brunch component was a homerun for all attendees.  I can’t tell you how exhilarating it was to hear all of the feedback from the participants.  A new buzz and excitement were present for the first time in a number of years and it could be felt by everyone!  The race was the perfect bow tied onto the month that we all worked so hard to complete. We continued to roll into the end of the year with another successful Pumpkin Charity Ball, raising more than ever from both events.

However, with the good… can oftentimes come with the bad.  And our last quarter at ISF shook us to the core. Three big losses in two months.  We attended too many funerals. It felt so unfair to watch Rachel devote her life to finding a cure for cancer, only to lose her Mother suddenly to Ovarian Cancer in November.   A Couple of our “Through My Eyes” campaign families, also took turns for the worse. Our Ewing’s Sarcoma warrior, Corey lost his battle with cancer in November and our sweet, cherished Osteosarcoma warrior, Madison lost her battle a couple days before Christmas.  These losses left our team stunned, wondering if what we were doing was all for nothing, if we couldn’t save these kids. I have to say, we pondered some big questions on the state of ISF after these monumental deaths.

So, for 2020 – things are changing.  And they are changing in a big way. Our 4th quarter donation tributes were at an all-time high and we realized that people want to kick cancer in the ass.  We are furious at this disease and find ourselves more determined than ever. We can’t let up, not even for a day.  If anything, we need to remain more focused than ever. For this reason, we are implementing a new mission that we hope will change outcomes forever.  It may have started with Isabella and our mission with Neuroblastoma, but now we have more children and more diseases to take on and we are ready. We have selected national tribute grants in the specialties of Ewing’s Sarcoma and Osteosarcoma in honor of Madison and Corey, that we will focus our efforts on in the beginning of 2020.  These initiatives will help kids nationwide and we won’t stop until we fulfill them. We will also be taking on specific efforts in the field of Rhabdomyosarcoma for our little warrior Merritt, as well as keeping a continued focus on Neuroblastoma for little Brinn, Max and of course in memory of Isabella.

We are going to allow each donation to be focused on what speaks to you, whether it be a specific child, diagnosis, or area of treatment.  Our continued partnership with Levine is progressing with the Rare and Solid Tumor Program, as we anticipate new details to share with you all.  Our look, our feel, our events, our staff and the families– you will see it all change and grow in 2020. We are all grown up and ready to kick cancer in the ass this year.  Needless to say, I think you may want to be around for this ride – because it’s going to be our biggest impact year to date. Stay tuned… we have lots to share in the coming months!

-Erin Santos, Isabella’s Mommy

2020 ISF INTENTIONS…

As you plan for 2020 we hope you include ISF as you set your intentions.   There are so many ways to give back and get involved to make a difference for kids fighting cancer.  We have so many good things happening and we can’t wait to share, but until then we wanted to share a few intentions at the top of our lists.  

Set It & Forget It!: Know you are supporting our mission regularly by signing up for monthly or quarterly giving.  Our recurring gift option lets you set your donation amount once… and forget it! 

Facebook Fundraiser: Facebook makes it ridiculously easy to fundraise for the cause of your choice to help create change.  We invite you to commit to creating a fundraiser for ISF to help impact pediatric cancer. Pick a day to celebrate a cause!

3 Wish Society: The 3 Wish Society is comprised of dynamic, committed and passionate donors who have the influence and resources to significantly impact the efforts of ISF. Donors receive invitations to mission related and VIP social events throughout the year, seats at the annual Pumpkin Ball in late October, receive special recognition via website, social media and at every ISF event. 

Ambassador: It’s simple… sign up, set up your own fundraising page/goal and tune into ISF social media channels for messages to share. ISF staff will provide support every step of the way including an invitation to a kick-off event, tool kit with everything that you need to be successful, gifts along the way as milestones are met and so much more. Engage your family, friends and entire network to raise funds for our vital mission.  Be sure to learn more about our partnership with our Ambassador program sponsor, OneBlood, and learn how donating blood and encouraging others to donate can raise funds in this fight.:

Volunteer: Feel good for doing good.  We have so many fantastic and loyal volunteers, our foundation could not function without each and every one.  Set your intention to volunteer this year by signing up for our ISF Volunteer List. 

Sponsor & Partner: Join us as a Sponsor or Community Partner to make an impact in 2020. It is a great opportunity to increase brand awareness and engage with people in the community all while providing a significant impact on pediatric cancer.

THANK YOU to the following businesses who have committed to be ISF Sustaining Sponsors for 2020: Jersey Mike’s, NoDa Brewing Company, OneBlood, Scoop Charlotte. And to all of our wonderful 2019 sponsors and community partners, we hope you will continue to make an impact with us in 2020.