How Isabella Santos Foundation Gave Back to Support Pediatric Cancer in 2020

“In a year with so much negativity and fear of what was to come, we weren’t even sure our doors would be open in 2021, but thanks to a hard-working team, our board of directors, local businesses, grants, and individual donors – we have found ourselves at the peak of our Foundation.  Knowing what kids with cancer go through and how lonely this year must have been for them and their families due to COVID, only pushed us to do all we could to help bring change to childhood cancer.  We are excited to enter into 2021, knowing we will take all we have learned this year and parlay it into another record-breaking year.  Kids fighting cancer deserve not to be forgotten, regardless of what is going on in the world today and we are honored to support them.” –Erin Santos, Executive Director of Isabella Santos Foundation.

During a challenging year when charities experienced a decline in donations, the Isabella Santos Foundation (ISF) received elevation in support like no other year.  ISF gave away just over $1 Million to support our mission for pediatric cancer in 2020! 

At the beginning of 2020, we sharpened our mission to focus on three areas.  It was Isabella’s wish to BEAT Cancer, GROW Hair, and LIVE Her Dreams. The foundation updated its mission to fulfill these wishes in three categories. BEAT (investing in pediatric cancer research to fund a cure), GROW (strengthening treatments for rare pediatric cancers), and LIVE (supporting families impacted by cancer). In the new mission’s inaugural year, ISF gave back a total of just over $1 Million through our giving categories and made a significant impact on each, thanks to the extraordinary support of donors.

Beat Cancer | Investing in Pediatric Cancer Research

Through our BEAT mission category, we donated $683,700 to help build the Isabella Santos Foundation Rare & Solid Tumor Program at Levine Children’s supporting rare pediatric cancer research. 

The ISF Rare & Solid Tumor Program has grown faster than anyone could have ever imagined.  Since the world-renowned cancer researcher, Dr. Giselle Sholler, came on board in July to develop the program, Levine Children’s has seen the solid tumor patient volume double.  With this donation to Levine Children’s, we were able to fund several vital roles to support the structure for the program as well as fund research costs.   All thanks to you!

Although we donated $683,700 through our BEAT giving category, we donated a total of $723,000 to Levine Children’s.  A portion of what was funded in 2020 to support the ISF Rare & Solid Tumor Program fell under our LIVE giving.  

Grow Hair | Improving Pediatric Cancer Trials & Studies

Through our GROW mission category, we donated $258,249 to several organizations to fund clinical trials in tribute of kids who continue to inspire us all, in the fight against childhood cancer.

We are told time and time again that discovering a cure is not a science issue, it’s a money issue.  It is our goal to help create more treatments for kids fighting rare cancers, ultimately leading to discovering a cure.  And what better way to do that then in honor of those kids who inspire all of us to keep fighting.  We were honored to partner with Live Like Madison to do just that and fund a clinical trial focused on relapsed sarcomas in honor of Madison Fedak. This trial out of Nationwide Children’s is focused on relapsed Osteosarcoma, Rhabdomyosarcoma, and Ewing’s sarcoma.  Madison’s legacy not only brought two foundations together to make more happen, but also inspired the Move For Jenn Foundation to join us with an amazing donation to close the gap for this trial.  What a positive testament to the good coming out of such an unpredictable year.

Funds under the GROW giving category were also granted to fund the first year of a clinical trial in honor of Merritt Plummer, who is currently in remission from rhabdomyosarcoma.  This five-year trial is focused on analyzing tissue samples to assess patterns in rhabdomyosarcoma and ISF has committed to the Children’s Oncology Group to fund all five years.

Live My Dreams | Supporting Families Affected by Cancer

Through our LIVE giving category, we donated $60,944 to help support local organizations or the specific needs of families affected by pediatric cancer.  The majority of our mission’s funds go towards research and clinical trials for rare pediatric cancers; however, this portion of our giving goes to supporting local Charlotte organizations or families struggling with the long-term effects of childhood cancer.  

The cost of childhood cancer goes beyond hospital stays and chemotherapy.  In 2020 we supported both local organizations and direct family needs to help with challenges that arise from surviving beyond cancer.