Today we announced the largest commitment we have ever made. We are a bit scared. Very emotional. The Isabella Santos Foundation commits $5 million to establish The Isabella Santos Foundation Rare & Solid Tumor Program at Levine Children’s Hospital. This program will oversee care for all solid tumors, rare tumors, MIBG therapy, and all related clinical and scientific research at LCH. We are ready to take that next step by creating a rare and special pediatric cancer program that will be the first of its kind in the United States.
We might be scared. We might be emotional. But we feel… Energized. Hopeful. Determined. Grateful.
Our partnership with LCH will allow us to continue the legacy Isabella left. Isabella’s motto was: Beat. Grow. Live. “Beat cancer, grow my hair, live my dreams.” The foundation in her name dedicates itself to broadening that, so that other kids fighting cancer may Beat (the odds), Grow (awareness), and Live (without fear).
During the LCH press conference today for the partnership announcement, Erin Santos spoke about what this day means for her personally…
“First of all I just want to take a moment and thank the team of ISF that is with me today. I always say after events like this to remember, every time you hear the word “Erin” it really means us. I am nothing without all of you standing next to me and none of this would happen without the people here today.
October 6th, 2007 – this day has always meant something to me because it was the day my life changed forever. My 2-year-old daughter was next to us in pigtails – wearing a pink t-shirt with a mermaid on it that we bought her at the Fort Fisher Aquarium that summer. We weren’t sure what we were going to be told in that tiny room but in just moments we were introduced to a word we had never heard. Neuroblastoma. We were quickly taken to a waiting room in clinic that would become our home for 5 years and would soon meet our new oncology family, who I still see in the audience today.
Sure, we may of known on that day that our life would change forever. But what we didn’t know is that the little girl that just walked through their clinic doors would change their lives forever too. The domino effect of that day is still falling.
I look out into this sea of faces and I see lives that will never be the same because of her. All of the people who were there from the beginning who made my cause, their cause. I can see kids that like her will be walked into a clinic waiting room and will see and feel this domino effect of her life due to this gift and that gives me hope and inspires us to make this commitment.
For us to take on this huge milestone with Levine, it is more than just a check. We are not famous or wealthy – we are just normal people who are doing amazing things. The blood, sweat and tears that we will put into raising this money will keep us up at night. But the faith that we have in Javier, Callie, all the doctors, nurses and administration keep us moving towards this goal because we believe in you. I know this will be one of the best things you will ever do with your life, just like us. We are in this together and we are beyond excited to watch this program grow into something that will receive nationwide attention and bring kids from all over the country to Charlotte to have the best chance of survival. No pressure – but I know you feel the pressure.
So thank you for allowing us to be a part of the biggest thing to happen for kids with cancer in Charlotte region and beyond. I can’t wait to see Isabella’s name on the center that brings new hope, treatments and cures to kids with rare pediatric cancers. The only thing better would be to have here her alongside me, but in a way – I think we all know she is.”
With this $5 million 5-year initiative, we will be changing lives. We will be the foundation of something special. We will have the best pediatric cancer program, right here in Charlotte, North Carolina. And we need your help.