Lake Norman Coffee for a Cure Brings in Over $35,000 for Pediatric Cancer Research

2017 Lake Norman Coffee for a Cure. Photo courtesy of

Our 2nd annual Coffee for a Cure hosted by our ISF Lake Norman chapter was a huge success.  Thank you to the 250 men and women who attended and the sponsors and local businesses who gave time and money to this event.  This event served as a call to action in the fight against pediatric cancer and to educate community members on the importance of bringing pediatric cancer treatments home to Charlotte.  We were able to raise $35,000 and donations have continued to come in.  These funds bring us one step closer to our 2017 $1,000,000 fundraising goal to fund the creation of a MIBG room at Levine Children’s Hospital.

Our Lake Norman chapter could not put on such a wonderful event if it wasn’t for the support of our community businesses who help us through their sponsorship. It is through their passion for charitable giving and making a local impact that we are able to continue Isabella’s fight. Thank you to the following businesses:

2017 Lake Norman Coffee for a Cure. Photos courtesy of

During the event, we introduced our new major gift society, called The Three Wish Circle, with an annual gift of $5000 or more, donors can take their support of the ISF mission to the next level by funding more research for childhood cancer and help to bring innovative treatment options to our local community.  If you have questions or want to know more about how to take your support to the next level, contact our ISF Development Director, Tia Wackerhagen.

We cannot begin to put words to how grateful that we are for the impact you are helping us make, thank you for your support.. We are so proud of what we have accomplished together and it is because of YOU. We could not do this alone and could not continue our fight without your help. We humbly thank each of you and look forward to a world with no more cancer where we will beat cancer, grow hair and live the dreams of all children fighting the fight.

We appreciate Local Scroll Charlotte for capturing the event, view all photos of the 2017 Lake Norman Coffee for a Cure.

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

1st Annual Cocktails For A Cure

We are absolutely thrilled to announce the results of our 1st Annual COCKTAILS FOR A CURE.
Earlier this month, and over the course of two inaugural events, more than 250 men and women gathered in Columbus, OH to not only learn more about Isabella’s story …but also gathered to fill rooms with hope.

Hope for a cure. 

Sassy Bow-Flow

This two-day event served as a call to action in the fight against pediatric cancer and to educate community members on the importance of bringing pediatric cancer treatments home to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. On Wednesday, August 2, we gathered at the trendy Fox In The Snow for an intimate setting and heard from families fighting locally and from the Doctors that care for them, on the need for more research and treatment options. The following evening, more than 200 people came to The Forge at Pillar Technology for a night of inspiration and hope. Among the stars of the evening were and her DJ, the incredible food and drinks provided by Pillar, an amazing raffle and silent auction put together by a team of volunteers in the Ohio area, and an introduction of Isabella and ISF to the city of Columbus through an emotional and touching presentation. 

We are blown away and beyond grateful that the overall event raised over $26,000 and donations keep coming in. With your help- WE DID it! We accomplished our goal and will be sending Nationwide Children’s Hospital a donation in the amount of $30,000 to fund the Neuroblastoma Genomics Based Therapy and Discovery Project. This amount, gifted on behalf of The Isabella Santos Foundation  will be for a comprehensive research work-up including whole genome sequencing for patients with Neuroblastoma.

We are proud of our first expansion event and love the city we chose. Columbus is known for its philanthropic ways and we hope to be back year after year to help grow our foundation in Ohio and to help the local community. We want to thank all of the businesses who supported our efforts through sponsorships. We could not have done this without you. 

Additionally, we want to send a special thank you to the village of individual people that we had on the ground to help pull it off. Without the hands and feet of this great team, our event would not have been the success that it was. 

Chris Culley
Lauren Culley and Jeff Excell
Connie and Bob Stewart
Amy and Mike Raubenolt
Dr. Nilay and Denise Shah
Dr. Keri Streby
Dr. Mark Ranalli
Dr. Tim Cripe
Brent and Kate Shaw
Dorie Wilson
Nancy Preston
Mollie Lynch
Lee Lander
Jenny Barker
Allyssa Cackler
Mike and Julie Wander

Daisy Duhl
Beth Sheehan
PILLAR Technology Staff

To everyone who supports us…we cannot begin to put words to how grateful that we are for the impact you are helping us make. We are so proud of what we have accomplished together and it is because of YOU. We did not do this alone and could not continue our fight without your help. We humbly thank each of you and look forward to a world with no more cancer where we will beat cancer, grow hair and live the dreams of all children fighting the fight.  VIEW ALL EVENT PHOTOS BY BETH SHAHEEN HERE

With gratitude,
The ISF Team

2nd Annual ISF Kids T-Shirt Design Contest

2016 Design Winner

Back again!  The ISF youth t-shirt designs we received last year were so cute… we have to do it again.  Kids ages 5-12 years old are invited to submit an original logo design for the Isabella Santos Foundation 5K/10K race event.  The winning logo design will be feature on t-shirts given to all YOUTH participants at the ISF 5k/10K event.  Thank you Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates, P.A. for sponsoring the ISF Kids T-Shirt Design contest for a second year!

This year we were super excited to have our favorite art studio, Small Hands Big Art, host a T-Shirt Design Workshop last week to kick off the contest.  We were also super excited that it filled up immediately.  Many creative and cute designs came to life and now we are opening the contest up for emailed entries.  This being our 10th Anniversary, we are looking for a design that reflects that significance!  Parents- this is the perfect time to talk to your child about ISF, about kids fighting cancer and get them excited about participating in the 5K/10K/Fun Run event on September 30th!

The deadline for entries is Monday, August 28th.  Email scanned design to:

Small Hands Big Art Design Workshop


  • Ages 5-12
  • Design must be drawn by hand
  • Design must include one of the following elements:
    • ISF Girl
    • The number 10 (10th)
    • The World (earth)
  • Design must be drawn on a piece of plan white paper, 8 1/2 x 11
  • T-shits will be a shade of purple
  • Deadline for entries is Monday, August 28th.



Tory Burch Shopping Event for Isabella Santos Foundation: July 12th

We LOVE Tory Burch here at ISF and excited that Tory Burch, SouthPark Mall is holding a shopping event benefiting ISF next Wednesday, July 12th from 6-8pm. This store has supported the foundation for several years, we appreciate our community friends who give back. 20% of the evening’s proceeds will benefit ISF and supporting the fight against childhood cancer





Please RSVP if you plan on attending

Things we hate to do, but still need to be done

Things we hate to do, but still need to be done

I get it.  It’s not a fun thing to do.  You may drive all the way to the center and get turned away.  It’s cold in there.  It may take them a couple of tries to find a good vein.  You are worried you might pass out.  It might be uncomfortable for a while.  It’s boring.  It may take a little longer than you want it to.  I know all these things that go through your head, because they go through mine too.

You would think after our family’s experience, I would be giving blood every chance I could.  But, like you all – I get busy or some of these excuses start ringing in my head.  I have to be honest though, I do try as much as I can to give blood if I have the chance at a blood drive.  Giving blood doesn’t take long at all and other than having to control my alcohol or exercise that day – it doesn’t impact my life too much.  It’s like voting for me.  I feel good doing it and feel proud walking around with my elbow wrapped up in horrible blue tape for a couple of hours.  It’s like a battle scar that somehow says, “I care”.

Platelets.   For some reason this process is a whole new ball game.  I don’t give them as much as I should.  I’m just lazy about it really.  I’m very particular about my platelet giving.  It is a must to have someone with me to entertain me for 90 minutes.  I find that I try to bring Maitland with me so that we can kill two birds with one stone in the chair and knock out as much work as we can.  We sometimes get our best work done in those chairs.  I also like that she keeps my mind focused.  I can’t focus on Isabella too much in those chairs or the experience may become to painful.

I have had some very memorable platelet donations.  As you know, I find it easy to torture myself without even knowing it.  The first anniversary of her death, I decided to schedule a platelet donation during the hours she died of June 28th.  I figured that if I was going to do this in her honor, let’s really do it.  The center was full that day as we were really pushing for 100 platelet donors that week, which is harder than landing on the moon apparently.  I sat in my chair and watched seas of purple come in and out.  Everyone knew that I was struggling because I sat there trying to have conversation, but knowing that tears that were falling slowly from my eyes as I talked.

I could see the hour of her death approaching and I just wanted to die.  My brother came in during that time and sat with me.  I think he gave blood instead of platelets that morning but all I really remember was him being with me.  He was there with me on the day we found out she had cancer, up until the day she died in our house.  He is a quiet brother at times but his presence is heavy.  We don’t often talk during these times about what is really going on in our head – it’s like an unspoken thing.  He knew how hard it was for me as I sat there and sobbed.  He just sat there – understanding how the things we hate to do, still need to be done.  This is not where I wanted to be on this morning and he knew it.  He knew I wanted to be in my bed, sobbing and not sitting here in this gray chair.  But once again, I was doing something, not for myself, but for her.  It was the longest donation of my life – but the most meaningful.

We left that morning together and drove to pick out an engagement ring for his girlfriend, Laura.  He let me be a part of a huge day in his life, maybe because I let him be a part of mine.  We went to lunch and had a drink and laughed.  By then my tears were dried up and I had focused on the excitement of his day.  He was starting a new chapter and I got to be there for it.  It was a good day in the end.

Each year as this date approaches, I feel myself wanting to retreat.  I have gotten a little smarter and try to no longer go during that hour of her passing.  It’s just not a smart thing for me to do anymore.  But I still go.  I go because I know how important blood and platelets were to her survival.  I go because I remember her bruising from the slightest touch and how platelets repaired her body so easily.  I go because I remember her not being able to walk into the hospital, only to find out that she was in such desperate need of a blood transfusion that I would have to carry her tired body everywhere.  She would run out of the clinic after her transfusion, as if the events of the earlier day never occurred.

I go because every time I’m there and I check in, the staff knows me and knows her.  Someone there always says a kind word to me about her legacy and I know there is no where else I should be.

I go because it’s the right thing to do.  I go for her.

Please help us honor Isabella through your platelet donation with The Community Blood Center of the Carolinas during the entire week of June 21-28…AND at ANY of their locations.  Our goal is a 100 donations.

– DATES: Wednesday, June 21st – Wednesday, June 28th
– GOAL: 100 donations
– PHONE: 1-888-59BLOOD / Can call to schedule at any center


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