What is your Why?

In the fundraising and nonprofit world we all have our own WHY for WHAT we do.  We talk about WHAT our charity is about and WHAT we do to fight… but connecting that WHY is the difference when trying to make a connection in fundraising.  The WHY is the goosebumps and tears that move donors to action.

Our ISF team talked several weeks ago that we wanted to ask our Dream Team and our MIBG Ambassadors this one question:  WHY do you fundraise for the Isabella Santos Foundation and pediatric cancer. It’s a question taken from Simon Sinek’s book and TEDx Talk, ‘Start With Why’… aimed at inspirational leadership.  For us at ISF, Sinek’s thoughts our perfect for fundraisers too.

Tim & Granddaughter

The funny thing is we haven’t asked this question to our fundraisers yet… but our faithful and consistent supporter, Tim McBride, shared his WHY this weekend.  We all have them.  Some very specific like Tim’s.  Some maybe not so specific.  But the WHY is what means the most.  

Tim, your WHY stopped us in our tracks.  It gave us goosebumps.  We thank you for using your pain to make a difference in this world…

“People are always asking me why I’m so passionate about raising money for cancer research, treatment, and patient services. I have many but this started it off. I always thought (and still do) that my brother, Mike McBride, was the greatest athlete in the world. When I was young, Mike, my Dad, and I would watch pro football on Sunday afternoon. I remember my Dad saying he would see Mike play on Sunday too. I wanted him to think I was good too. When I was 8 years old, I entered a Punt Pass and Kick contest and was fortunate enough to win my age group. I walked home with my Redskins jacket I won for first place. I went to show my Dad so he would say I could play in the pros like Mike. But cancer was doing its job on him. He had a brain tumor and this wasn’t a good day for him. After I told him I won and showed him my jacket, he just laid there in the bed. As I was leaving, I heard him ask Mom, “who was that?” I have never forgotten that day. I knew I was never good enough to play on Sunday but that pain has driven me to want to raise money so a kid never has to feel the pain I did that day.” 

-Tim McBride [McBeast, ISF MIBG Ambassador, Dream Team Member, Run-Streaker, Cancer Crusher, Santa Clause, & all over Bad Ass]



It started with a girl.  And she is changing the world.  June 28th will mark the 6th anniversary of Isabella’s passing.  Please help us near and far keep Isabella’s legacy alive.  

2018 Isabella’s Dream Team: Seeking Volunteer Cancer Crushing Leaders

After conquering many miles and many milestones over the past four years – we are Crushing Cancer again this year for your choice of several races. This team will be training in memory of Isabella Santos, who passed away from Neuroblastoma at the age of 7. We will train as one group starting in mid-July and then you can pick which race(s) would work best for you and your schedule!  The idea is to give you a choice- but also help cheerlead each other in our training schedules. Of course…along the training path- this determined group of runners will crush The Isabella Santos Foundation 11th Annual 5k/10K for Kids Cancer on Saturday, Sept 29th. The Dream Team tackled these races last year and raised over $110,000…and over $400,000 to date! Lets crush the pavement, crush our fundraising goal and crush cancer together again in 2018!

As many of you know from being part of this great group…the team work makes the dream work, so we are taking that motto and are implementing a new structure this year that will allow our passionate people to join forces to crush pediatric cancer together. This structure can apply to anyone that is interested in taking on a more active role on our dream team. 

We are seeking leaders. We are seeking cancer crushers. We are seeking passionate individuals with a desire to take their role with our team to the next level. We have committed  $5 million to establish The Isabella Santos Foundation Rare & Solid Tumor Program at Levine Children’s Hospital.  This program will impact more than just Charlotte as it will be the first of its kind in the United States. This is a volunteer based grassroots effort without the overhead of the large cancer charities.  Please email info@isabellasantosfoundation.org for more information

We are seeking leads for the following areas to help run our Dream Team in 2018:  (Please email info@isabellasantosfoundation.org for more information)

  • Fundraising LEAD: (Still Needed)
    • Help People Set Up FG Pages
    • Help Develop Fundraising Incentive Program
  • Training LEAD: (Fullfilled)
    • Develop Training Schedules
    • Coordinate Group Runs
    • Identify 2018 Race Options
  • Communication LEAD: (Fulfilled)
    • Coordinates Emails
    • Communicates Socials, Group Runs, etc. 
  • Recruitment LEAD: (Still Needed)
    • Help Coordinate Socials 
    • Attend local events/races to recruit members
    • Help Develop Referral Incentive Program
    • Work with Local Businesses for Monthly Partnership
  • “Hype Squad” LEAD: (Still Needed)
    • Coordinate and Develop Cheerleaders/Hype Squad for our DT members
    • Coordinate Cheering sections at local races and events
    • Coordinate the spotlight of Dream Team Members and Weekly speakers

If you are interested, please email us ASAP at info@isabellasantosfoundation.org


Fighting a Disease

Jackson, 2016 Charlotte Half Marathon

Written by Tammy Lowry, Jackson’s Mom
At the age of 12, my son Jackson Lowry decided to join the Isabella Santos Foundation Dream Team.  The Dream Team trains together as a group to run a half marathon, supporting each other and raising funds for ISF and pediatric cancer.  November 2016 was his first half marathon, and he did a phenomenal job.  He politely reminds me every day that he beat me, and he is going to beat me again this year.  His motivation might be to beat his mother in a half marathon, but the biggest joy I embrace is how he is learning about fundraising and supporting our community when there are kids a little less fortunate.  But then something happens that reminds me – – he knows what that is like.  He knows how it is to fight a disease.  He has Type 1 Diabetes, and it haunts us when we least expect it.
Last Saturday was a critical part of our half marathon training.  We were meeting for a group run that is 10 miles of the actual race course.  Unfortunately, Jackson had a cross country meet that morning with his middle school – so we both did not attend the group run.   Instead, we got up on Sunday and hit the streets at 7:45am to accomplish this run together.  There is a part of the half marathon course that is a huge hill on Providence Road.  Jackson and I both agreed that once we run that, we are golden.
We start off with our run, and he is in high spirits.  He is directing me which route to go, which streets to run on.  He was so pumped.  We pull that hill on Providence Road and when we reached the top he started to slow down.  Now he fell behind me in pace.  We were only at 3 miles – – we had a long ways to go.  I kept looking back at him to see what was going on, and I looped back around.  His blood sugar dropped significantly and he was having a diabetic attack.  I pulled out a bag of energy beans because that is all I had on me at the time.  He ate the entire bag and felt better immediately.  But when you deal with blood sugar highs and lows – it affects your attitude, your mood, and your motivation.  He lost all motivation after his attack.
As he looked at me completely wiped out, he told me to go ahead and run.  I was hesitant at first.  I ran ahead of him and I would circle back around to see how he was doing.  Then I finally kept on running but talked to him on the phone as I completed my 10 miles.  He walked it behind me, but he kept going.
The entire time I thought – – what is he going to say to me when we meet back at my car?  Will he be defeated?  Will he be upset?  How do I handle this as his mom?  I certainly know that you have good runs and bad runs, but will he understand that?  He is only 13 years old.
We get back to the car and he looks at me and says, “I will get it next time.”  Yes you will Jackson, yes you will.  This weekend, we have an 8 mile run, and I know he will do it.  His heart is full of motivation and he won’t quit.
– Tammy Lowry, Jackson’s Mom

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

Running To Zero

Isabella’s Dream Team week one is complete.  With our first group run behind us, one number gave us the inspiration needed behind every step, every bead of sweat and every sore muscle.  1843.  The number of missed kisses.  The number of missed goodnights.  The number of days since Isabella passed.    This season our team will run with an updated number on their arms every Saturday.  To remind us why we are running.  We run until that number is zero for parents of children fighting cancer.  It’s not to late to join.

Read the #Runningtozero blog below… written by Isabella’s Mommy around this time last year.  And why she started counting days.



Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 5.28.01 PMI tossed and turned in bed. I knew my mind was racing. I had this feeling a lot back in the day and I know how to fix it. I had to write. I knew that if I did my mind would settle and I could sleep. But the “new” Erin convinced myself that my anxiety was due to the Dream Team 6 mile run at 6:30 am the next day. It was just nerves that I would oversleep or worse, not be able to do the run.

My mind and body tossed from 10:30 pm – 1:30 am.

I woke at 4:30 am and I knew it wasn’t running nerves. The day before while shopping I received a call from a new friend. Her Granddaughter just received results from recent scans and the neuroblastoma was aggressive, although I not sure aggressive accurately describes it. The neuroblastoma had become deadly. Palliative care options were given due to the rapid progression of the disease.

I tried to remain calm with the news because at this point in my life, I know that Doctors are really just guessing. You learn this when you too, have been given this option several times – yet your own daughter proves them wrong and makes a comeback. These Doctors are not God and you learn this the hard way. I gave the best advice I could give.

Tell the parents to read their daughter. If she wants to fight – then fight. If she is done, they will know and then the fight will be over.

We read Isabella each time we got devastating news. Doctors said she was done but her light showed “Green” so we fought. Sometimes it seemed “Yellow”, so we would cautiously continue. But when it turned “Red” for the first and only time – we stopped. She died quickly.

But I found myself Friday night at Nordstroms, crying. Sad and Angry.

It feels like we just made our decision. It was just yesterday right? I found myself at 4:30 am counting days.

1494Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 5.40.54 PM

There is no way.

I began to freak out that another mother might soon be counting.

1 is the hardest number. But oddly 1494 still feels hard. When you see that number it may seem like a lifetime ago. But for me, it feels so recent. It’s 1494 missed kisses, missed goodnights, and missed smiles. I’m sure that number can be a hard motivator for some to take action. But to me, that number is as motivating as ever. Especially during these hot summer months when every number we see kills our motivation.

99 degrees, 100% humidity, 13.1 miles, 6:30 am, $500 fundraising goals. You may begin to wonder why you are doing this to yourself?

1494. That number motivates me because it’s an awful number. And next Saturday that number will be 1501. My number will continue to grow this season and I know that everything I’m doing, every time I ask for a donation, and every mile I run in this heat is so that someone like me will not have to write that number on their arm.

I will run and continue to ask until that number is zero.


Isabella’s Mommy

It’s more than a running team…

We run and we fundraise. But we also make new friends, meet for socials, laugh and act silly. But there is nothing better than building relationships while making an impact in the community. Isabella’s Dream Team fundraises for childhood cancer research, but excited to add the following commitments as part of our giveback initiative:

2. Make dinner for families staying at Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte
3. Collect school supplies for Classroom Central


The fundraising component is minimal compared to the larger charities that ask you to cover the difference if you do not meet the minimum. We simply ask each participant to commit to fundraising at least $500, but our hope is that each person will fundraise much more than that. Don’t fret, we will help you along the way with fundraising ideas and examples.


  1.  Isabella Santos Foundation 10K/5K for Kids Cancer (9/30)
  2.  Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah (11/4)
  3. Charlotte Marathon (11/11).
  • New this year:  Train with the team for the ISF 10K on Sept 30th.
  • RnR Savannah offers a half and full marathon, and a half marathon relay (6-7 miles per person).
  • Charlotte Marathon offers a half and full marathon, and a marathon relay (5 runners: 4-6 miles increments).
  • New this year: “One to run. One for fun.” challenge to run back to back half marathons in Savannah & Charlotte. $1,000 minimum fundraising commitment comes with swag bag filled with lots of goodies.
  • We’ve had teammates in the past run: Chicago Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, New York City Marathon, and numerous others as part of our team. It’s your choice what race you’d like to do, and we could always adjust the training schedule to match your race.


  • Training schedules (10K, half, half marathon relay, marathon & marathon relay) – training starts the week of July 10th.
  • Team swag
  • Weekend long runs, weekday run options
  • Socials
  • Camaraderie
  • Motivation


  • Email Coach Tom at tom@isabellasantosfoundation.org
  • Create your First Giving fundraising page: 2017 Isabella’s Dream Team
    • $500 commitment for 10K, half or full marathon.
    • $1,000 commitment for the “One to run. One for fun.” back-to-back challenge.
  • Register for your race and distance
  • Recruit your friends, family, coworkers to join via social media and let them know you just joined #isabellasdreamteam

Our goal this year: 200 participants raising $200,000. 

Learn more about Isabella’s Dream Team or contact Coach Tom with questions.

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