Hope Shines Bright: Isabella Santos Foundation Luminary Event Surpasses $90K in Donations for Childhood Cancer Research

Isabella Santos Foundation’s Luminary Dedication event raises funds to help fund a pediatric cancer clinical trial while honoring cancer fighters.

Written by Rachel Wood, Director of Marketing

[Videos produced by Blue Label Visuals]

One glorious evening with a break from the rain, an unexpected purplish sunset, 1,600 purple glowing and heartfelt luminaries, and a community standing behind us helped make Tuesday, March 9th something extra special.  A very special day in a very special place.  With your support ISF’s Star Light Star Bright Luminary Dedication event raised $91,327 for Dr. Giselle Sholler’s neuroblastoma and DIPG clinical trial at Levine Children’s.

Hosted at Calvary Church and where Isabella is laid to rest, the private luminary dedication event was created to help honor Isabella on what would have been her sweet 16.  The support ISF felt was overwhelming and the dedications for loved ones affected by cancer were breathtaking. The proceeds will help fund Dr. Giselle Sholler’s P.E.A.C.H. Protocol, a clinical trial focused on relapsed neuroblastoma and newly diagnosed DIPG.  

Every detail for this evening was intentional… from the star-cut luminary bags to the purple lights we placed in them.  The luminaries were set in 16 straight rows symbolizing how old Isabella should be today. And as a surprise that unfolded so perfectly into our plans, Calvary lit their majestic sanctuary up purple.  It was breathtaking!  Isabella’s family hasn’t been in there since her funeral, so to watch them take it all in was…well, hard to put into words.  Calvary Church and its staff truly helped our Luminary vision happen in a way that was more beautiful than we could ever imagine.  March 9th couldn’t have been more perfect. 

While she only lived seven years, Charlotte, the nation, and the world feel Isabella’s astounding impact!  Thank you for helping us bring hope and change to kids fighting rare cancers in her name. We hope you will continue to follow the foundation, sign up for our email newsletter to receive updates.

View Our Online Luminary Dedication Wall Here.


We were taken back by the support we received from our community.  The Charlotte auto community and many local businesses stepped up to take part in helping us shine a light on pediatric cancer through this unforgettable night.  Thank you to our co-presenting sponsors Lake Norman Chrysler Dodge Jeep & Ram and Scott Clark Auto Group.  And due to the nature of this event, we were excited to offer an “extra” special layer of sponsorship, The “Sweet 16” Family Sponsors. Thank you to all our business sponsors and “Sweet 16” Family Sponsors for helping us give kids fighting neuroblastoma a brighter future.

[Videos produced by Blue Label Visuals]


Our Luminary event wouldn’t have been possible without Calvary Church and Laura Schlesing. This was Isabella’s 2nd home and we felt her with us Tuesday every single second, there wasn’t a more perfect location! We appreciate our volunteers who helped us ahead of time by preparing supplies and who came out to help us get it done.  Setting up a field full of luminaries wasn’t simple…


  • Laura Stikeleather of Stikeleather Photography donated her time and skills to capture our Star Light Star Bright event! Laura has donated her services to ISF for years and we are so appreciative!  
  • Kevin Young of The 5 And 2 Project donated his skills to capture the Uptown Skyline as it went purple in honor of Isabella as well as several late-night photos of the Star Light Star Bright Luminaries.
  • K.J. Brent, donated his time to capture Star Light Star Bright luminaries after dark.
  • Noah Matthews, college student, donated his time to capture Star Light Star Bright luminaries.

INDIVIDUALS:  Sandra Szoke, Holly Hawley Lisa Weaver, Meghan Leary, Cheryl Sherman, Emily Erwin & Molly Erwin, Colleen Hinsberg, Blair Primis, Connie & Bob Stewart (Isabella’s Grandparents).

GROUPS:  Charlotte Catholic High School students and thank you to Coach Christine Brent & the Marvin Ridge High (Union County, NC) Varsity Mav Dance Team for all those beautiful straight lines!  We put our dear friend Christine and her dancers in charge of that with intention!