Meet Isabella Santos Foundation’s ChangeMakers

ChangeMaker: One who desires change in the world, and who makes that change happen.

During these last few weeks of 2019 we will be introducing you to some of those who help The Isabella Santos Foundation create positive change for pediatric cancer. So many are part of what makes ISF who we are and their visions for making a difference through donations, volunteering, fundraising, sponsorships and more, are inspiring.

Inspired by their actions? Donate and become a ChangeMaker today.

Meet ISF ChangeMaker, Jonathan McFadden…

“I’ve seen cancer steal from so many people — their joy, happiness, peace, life. My maternal grandfather died of cancer the year I was born, before we ever met. When I was 7, the aunt who took care of me each day after school while my parents worked died of cancer. A few years later, cancer killed another loved one, and then another before it killed my classmate’s mom, my best friend’s mom, acquaintances and more. Some of those who died were children. Cancer is a scourge to mankind. I want to be part of the solution that eradicates it from the face of the earth.” 

Jonathan joined our Board of Directors this year and has been an AMAZING addition to our team. He not only brings creativity and insight with his marketing and world traveling background, but he has re-engaged the company he works with, LendingTree, to become equally as passionate and involved with ISF this year. They were incredible sponsors at our race this year and Jonathan was responsible for energizing this group to the extent that he did. He has the biggest heart and the biggest smile always on his face to go along with it. We can’t wait to see what awesome ideas he has in store for 2020! – Maitland Danner, ISF Team.

Donate in honor of Jonathan and what he is doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer. Be inspired by his actions.

Meet ISF ChangeMaker, Firebirds WoodFired Grill…

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill is passionate about supporting ISF because of their dedication to helping fight childhood cancer within the local community of Charlotte and beyond.  Our hope is to make an impact on the lives of the children and families who are affected and to contribute to the ongoing research to find a cure. 

“The team at Firebirds is dedicated to making a difference in the pediatric cancer community. They do amazing things for Alex’s Lemonade Stand & have been long time supporters of ISF. They hosted our VIP Tent at the race for a few years, and this year surpassed that by providing the yummiest & most impressive food at our first ever bRUNch!! They went above & beyond expectations & turned our fun brunch concept into the major highlight at our annual race!! They donate to our auctions every year, get Jersey Mike’s subs on Day of Giving & support our OneBlood blood/platelet drives in honor of Isabella. The team is always there to support us &  the kids & is the definition of true partnership”. – Karen Murphy, ISF TEAM

Donate in honor of the Firebird’s team and what they are doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer.  Be inspired by their actions

Meet ISF ChangeMaker, Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat…

CEENTA decided to make an impact with ISF this year because of their involvement in the community and the story behind ISF.  We have been a sponsor of the 5k/ 10k race for the past 3 years and we hope to continue the partnership! The dedication Erin Santos has done with the Foundation and making the impact in the Charlotte Area,  we are happy to be able to support! We are looking forward to the future for the Isabella Santos Foundation.

“Community support is vital to being able to raise funds for & spread awareness about the huge need kids & families fighting cancer have. Partners like CEENTA are so meaningful to the Foundation because they care about making a difference & we can rely on their support year after year. The CEENTA team shows up at our race every September looking to engage with our event attendees & excited to be a part of community & our mission. Thank you CEENTA for being a Change Maker for the ISF kiddos!” – Karen Murphy, ISF TEAM

Meet ISF ChangeMaker, Jersey Mike’s…

No child should ever have to suffer in my opinion. There are enough challenges in life so I wish that every child’s health was off limits but unfortunately it is not. With that said what ISF has done for pediatric cancer in such a short time is unprecedented in my opinion.  ISF has such a passion for what they do. I have been involved with a lot of charities over the years and some feel like a business that raises money for charity. ISF is a family with one goal. That is to cure all pediatric cancer and on the way make a positive impact on every family they touch. 

“Nick and the Jersey Mike’s team has had a profound impact on what ISF has been able to accomplish the last couple of years. The Jersey Mike’s Day of Giving each March is one of my favorite days of the year. Might sound silly, but it is so inspiring to see our community come out in droves & dine on Jersey Mike’s in order to support ISF & the little kiddos fighting cancer. Families are there for supper. Companies are there buying team lunches. It’s a simple & easy way to show you care & want to help. Thank you Nick & Jersey Mike’s for caring so much. This incredible day of community has brought $302,604 of impact in the last 2 years!!  I don’t know about you, but to me that brings a lot of hope & change for good to the cancer community.” – Karen Murphy, ISF TEAM

Donate in honor of the Jersey Mike’s team and what they are doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer.  Be inspired by their actions.

Meet ISF ChangeMakers, Brian & Ashley Levy…

Ashley was first exposed to ISF through her student Emily Miller.  After running the 5k for the first time, she fell in love with the race and the organization.  Shortly afterwards we both joined the Dream Team where we met a group of people who shared our love of running with a passion for the Foundation.  Fast-forward a few years and now Ashley and I are leading the Run Team, continuing to run in support of ISF. One of the things we love about ISF is that our contributions yield tangible results for kids right here in Charlotte.  ISF is doing amazing things and our hope is that by raising awareness and fundraising through running, there will be a day when kids no longer have to endure what Isabella, Emily, and so many other kids have to endure.

“Brian and Ashley are the definition of kind-hearted. This adorable duo heads up our Run Team and not only stepped up to take on this role, but did so without hesitation and with a huge heart for the cause. Even before they were running with purpose, they were coordinating fundraisers any way that they could to help ISF, inspired by a very precious cancer-fighter in their own life. They have taken their passion to a level that has inspired so many to take action and make their own impact. We have watched them laugh together, support together, encourage together, run together…and plan their wedding and life together! What a true joy it has been to get to know them and we are incredibly grateful for their tireless dedication to ISF.”  – Maitland Danner, ISF Team

Donate in honor of Brian & Ashley and what they are doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer.  Be inspired by their actions.

Meet ISF ChangeMakers, Dave & Kristine Sniegocki…

Dave started out with ISF many moons ago after seeing a donation jar at our local vet clinic. Supporting ISF during those first years for all the kids fighting was a family affair. We attended races and volunteered during different events. A few years ago I was wanting to step up, I joined the auction team and now I’m currently assisting with the volunteer aspect of the organization. The amount of money that is able to be raised each year by a fierce group of women inspires me and I am proud to be part of this team. 

“Kristine & Dave are the kind of people you want on your side. Since learning about Isabella and ISF, they have volunteered at countless events & are always willing to lend a hand & help in any way. Kristine has taken that help to the next level these last couple of years as our volunteer coordinator. She is an integral part of our team & the success of every event by helping us get the volunteers needed to pull off each event. We couldn’t do things without Kristine or her fabulous volunteer team! We appreciate the Sniegocki family so much!” – Karen Murphy, ISF TEAM

Donate in honor of Dave & Kristine and what they are doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer. 

Throughout the month we have been asking everyone one simple question, “Why did you chose to make an impact with ISF?”…

For Isabella it was simple. It was for everyone else. 

Just being in the clinic this week I was reminded of her when I saw the pure excitement in other children when they found out one of the other friends (with cancer) was in the clinic too. Merritt (Rhabdomyosarcoma) was beyond herself knowing that Brinn (Neuroblastoma) was in too. They just wanted to visit with each other. Hearing how devastated Max was to find out our sweet Madison just passed away – reminded me of Isabella when she heard of Joey’s passing. For these kids – it’s never about themselves – it is always about others. All Madison wanted for Christmas was for her other friends who was battling cancer too – to have s great Christmas. These kids are so selfless and they would always chose to heal their friends first. I can’t tell you how many times Isabella would say prayers at night, not for anyone to heal her – but to heal her friends. 

This is why our mission is what it is today. It all started with Isabella – and she just wanted to change the world for kids she knew with cancer. So that is what we are doing with your help… just trying to save all of Isabella’s little friends.  -Erin Santos, Isabella’s Mommy 

Donate in honor of Isabella

Meet ISF ChangeMaker, Santa McBride…

I saw the passion that ISF had for finding a cure for pediatric cancer and wanted to be a part of their crusade. As Santa, you know I have a special place in my heart for kids so ISF is a perfect place for me to fundraise. I originally showed up at a dinner for ISF because a friend’s wife couldn’t go. I fell in love with the passion that night and signed up to run with Isabella’s Dream Team that night.

“We all know that Santa is very busy at the moment, but we couldn’t go through this Christmas without talking about this guy and the incredible impact he continues to make. Just like St. Nick, Tim “McBeast” McBride is always looking out for the boys and girls. He always brings smiles to their faces and has an extra special place in his heart for the little ones fighting cancer. He works tirelessly throughout the year fundraising in any way he can dream up… to help make a change, take action and motivate others to join in his fight. Even though we know he will be flying with his reindeers  tonight, we know that he will be running into 2020 with even more drive and passion and our team is absolutely honored and humbled to know him.” – Maitland Danner, ISF Team

Donate in honor of Santa McBride and what he is doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer.  Be inspired by his actions.

Meet ISF ChangeMaker, Chris Wilcox…

I’ve been a believer in and strong supporter of ISF for YEARS. My daughter Sydney went to kindergarten with Isabella. My family was so moved by her story and The Santos’ quest to prevent other families from having to go through what they went through that my family and I have always tried to do as much as we can to further the work of ISF. Woody and I are proud to emcee the run every year and I’m very proud of what we were able to accomplish in the early days of ISF when I was a board member. 

“When we began our relationship with Woody & Wilcox many years ago, one of the first things Chris did was introduce me to The Isabella Santos Foundation.  He told me the story of Isabella. His daughter had gone to kindergarten with Isabella so his dedication to the foundation was personal and contagious. He was “in” and did whatever he could personally & professional to spread the ISF word.  Fast forward to today. Even though Chris is no longer on the ISF board, he is just as invested in the cause and continues to tell the story of the special little girl whose legacy is changing lives.” -Suzie Ford, ISF Board of Directors

Donate in honor of Chris and what he is doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer.  Be inspired by his actions:

Meet ISF ChangeMakers, Keith, Christine, Madi, KJ & Chelsea Brent…

Isabella was a powerhouse of a little girl and she encompassed everything the word fight implies. She was the catalyst to our ISF support. Our 2019 “why” remains the same as it has been every year we have worked with ISF. Our why: A cure must be found so lives can be saved. It seems inconceivable to us that we still need to repeat this, yet, here we are at the end of 2019 and we are still working to find a cure.

We support ISF because they are a red high heels, no is not an option, lack of funding is unacceptable machine that continues to inspire and awe us. It also doesn’t hurt that those red high heels are worn by a take no prisoners Executive Director and her band of “merrie men”.

ISF is a game changer, a lifesaver, and for many, the only hope that rare cancers will eventually be cured. We feel blessed and humbled to be a part of their vision.

Our “why” began on October 4th, 2007 when the vibrant, spirited, and endearing daughter of our friends received the life changing diagnosis of stage 4 Neuroblastoma. Our why began with a little girl and her wish to Beat.Grow.Live.

Our family has been touched by cancer too many times. Christine’s mother has beaten breast cancer and is still cancer free, but the family has lost too many family members and friends to cancer and it is something no one should have to go through. ISf’s work to find a cure could be the work that not only cures orphan cancers, but leads to other cancer cures.

“I actually first learned about the Isabella Santos Foundation through the Brent family years ago.  Their dedication and love for the Santos family and the mission of the nonprofit were more than apparent.  I have always associated the Brent’s with ISF. They make a point to attend and promote each and every event.  They commit to running each year, in memory of Isabella. Christine even has Isabella’s photo tied to her shoe laces as a constant reminder to keep her going.  I love how both Keith and Christine run together, as a couple to show support. KJ and Madi have made a point to promote the ISF organization and Cancer Messed With brand to help raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer.  You will always find this family in ISF apparel, volunteering for the 5K for Kids Cancer each and every year.

This family is genuine, passionate and consistent in their relationships and support.  I think as an outsider looking in, my favorite part of how this family supports ISF is the consistency.   Regardless of the years that have passed or the new commitments that arise in life, this family continues to step up and step forward for the ISF organization each and every year in the same capacity.  They never waiver. They loved this family years ago when Isabella was alive. It is very apparent that the love and support for the Santos family is still there and is as strong as ever. These are the kind of people you want in your life.  The ones that are always there, who always have your back. The ones who you know will continue to push the mission forward, to help other families in Isabella’s honor.” -Jenn Andrews, Founder of Move for Jenn

Donate in honor of the Brent Family and what they are doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer.  Be inspired by their actions.

Meet ISF ChangeMakers, Mike & Tara Hopper…

From the moment Mike and I first got involved with ISF, in 2017, we knew how important their mission was. As parents of two little girls, we felt even more urgency to get involved; no child should ever have to face a battle with cancer, and all that comes with it- the weeks, and months spent in and out of hospitals, chemotherapy, PICC lines, and endless regimens of medications. Cancer strips these children of the care-free, fun-filled days that are supposed to be a gift of their youth. 

Early into our involvement, ISF showed us, through building the MIBG suite at LCH, just how committed they are to helping each of these children- being a part of this was one of the most rewarding experiences of our lives.

In 2019, reading the “Through my Eyes” series was such a powerful reminder that as far as ISF has moved the needle in rare pediatric cancer treatment, their work as a foundation, and ours as donors, is far from done. Ongoing, much-needed research, testing, and teams of doctors are needed to continue propelling this mission forward.

Mike and I have known from the start that ISF is a foundation we want to support in as many ways possible, for as long as we are able, and we are committed to helping them reach their goals. We look forward to being a part of the next chapters, and bringing hope to all children, today, and in the future, of a life with ‘no more cancer’. 

“Mike and Tara Hopper are two of our favorite supporters who came to us out of nowhere.  Tara was invited to a coffee for a cure a couple of years ago, she saw the video and she was in.  Then once she showed her husband Mike the video… after some tears – he was in too! The Hoppers have hearts of gold and as a couple who is just starting out building their family, I think they just couldn’t imagine what it must be like for these families and are determined to do something about it.  The thing I love about Mike and Tara is that I can really count on them. If I need them to get up and speak at 3 Wish Circle event, they do it. They come to the hospital in the summer for our Christmas in July event and walk room to room, meeting kids and handing out gifts. They bring out amazing friends to our events and fill pumpkin ball tables with people who want to make a difference too.  They are infectious! I love spending one on one time with them because they are always thinking of ways to help, or advice on how to change something to make it better. I value every word that comes out of their mouth because I honestly consider them part of my team. They don’t just want to support a charity – they want it to become THEIR charity. They put everything they have into ISF and it humbles me.  Side note: they are also people who have come into my life due to Isabella’s passing and I can call them my friends – regardless of their support. I love these two adorable people.” -Erin Santos, Isabella’s Mommy

Donate in honor of Mike & Tara and what they are doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer.  Be inspired by their actions.

Meet ISF ChangeMaker, Melanie Miller…

If you asked me this question 5 years ago you would have gotten a simple answer, my daughter Emily. Emily was diagnosed with Stage 4, high risk neuroblastoma in 2012 at the age of 4. She suffered an aggressive relapse in 2015, and has now been in remission for just over 2 years. Sitting in a hospital room, watching your child endure toxic and often painful treatments is one of the worst things a parent can experience. You feel helpless. Watching Emily go through treatment, knowing the dismal statistics, researching what was available and what was being done to improve these treatments was disheartening. I knew I wanted to make a difference and feel like I helped contribute to improving the efficacy and decreasing the toxicity of these treatments. I knew that I wanted to support an organization that was working towards a cure, a non profit that was directly funding research trials and making an impact, and that’s what ISF was doing.

In December 2012 Emily was 6 months into treatment, and had just had a stem cell transplant. We were in the middle of a month long stay in isolation when a nurse came in to inform me that there was a charitable group delivering toys to the kids on the oncology floor. I didn’t want to leave the room, but the nurse told me that the woman who was outside my door had just lost her own daughter to Neuroblastoma merely 6 months ago and wanted to meet me and give Emily a toy. I came out of the room to meet Erin Santos, in awe that someone who had just suffered such an enormous tragedy was already back at the hospital giving back to other families. The brief conversation we had made an impact and I decided to help once we got though the next year of treatment, and that’s what I did. We started slowly, attending races, coffees, and raising money, and then a few years later I jumped in with both feet to help run the auction committee. I admired this strong group of women who were working tirelessly to help not only our local kids, but children across the country battling this horrific disease. 

Now my answer is different since I’ve met and become friends with several other mothers of local kids fighting not only Neuroblastoma, but other rare cancers like Rhabdomyosarcoma, Osteosarcoma, Ewing’s Sarcoma, DIPG and more. So now I continue to volunteer, spend dozens of hours soliciting auction donations, spread awareness and more for kids like Max, Brinn, Merritt, Madison and so many more. 

“It’s fitting that the first time I met Melanie Miller was when I was volunteering at an ISF event. As a cancer mom, I feel an instant connection anytime I meet someone else who has a child who has been diagnosed with cancer. But it takes more than that difficult shared experience to develop a true friendship and admiration for that person. In the years since our initial meeting, I have gotten to know Melanie and watched her fight, advocate, fundraise, and work tirelessly to improve not only her own daughter’s life, but the lives of countless other children fighting pediatric cancer. Plain and simple, Melanie shows up. She shows up at races, blood drives, Momcology meetings, sibling support groups, galas, fundraisers and hospital events. At many of these events she’s visibly helping out, but even when you don’t see her, she is often showing up quietly behind the scenes. She holds other mothers’ hands as their own children are getting scans. She delivers treats and coffee to families who are inpatient. She busts her butt behind the scenes to help the ISF auction be bigger and better each year. Melanie does all this while juggling the never ending appointments, therapies and procedures of her own medically complex family. I don’t know how she manages it all, but I do know that whatever she commits to, Melanie will do it to the best of her ability and leave the rest of us in awe of her perseverance, loyalty and drive.” -Rae Copp, Cancer Mom

Donate in honor of Melanie and what she is doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer. Be inspired by her actions.

Meet ISF ChangeMaker, Blair Primis…

Words cannot describe how fortunate I am to have met Erin. Her strength is like nothing I have ever personally known. It’s the stuff you see in movies. Her sense of self and her willingness to embrace it, I think, comes from a place deep down. One that folks rarely see, but as I said I am fortunate, I get a glimpse of it here and there. She has a poise, one that I am not only impressed by, but I am empowered by. She finds a way to live fully and does so her way, with her unique strength and it’s something to be in awe of. Trust me.
My adoration for her goes beyond our time together day in and day out. Its something I try to live up to and while I am yet to be successful in that endeavor I continue to try. I support her and ISF because I believe we all need an Erin Santos in our lives. We all need just a sliver of her strength.
I am fortunate. I get to love her and be by her side…and I am so much better because of it.Support her and the team at ISF, they are making a difference because they care. More than you can possibly imagine. Do that and before long you’ll be saying how fortunate you’ve been to know her too.

“It’s not easy to define what a leader is. There are so many different ways to lead, whether it’s by example, by intention, or simply by pure enthusiasm. Blair Primis does them all – and he does them so effortlessly, sometimes you don’t even realize you’re being led until you’re there. Many people can claim to want to improve their community, can claim that they are genuinely interested in the growth of the members of that community, can claim to put others ahead of themselves, but only Blair has done all of those things – but would never tell you about it, because he’ll gladly deflect the gratitude to someone else. Whether it’s teaching a Skillpop class during his lunch hour, serving on the board of ISF or helping to put OrthoCarolina’s logo on literally every cool thing that’s happening in Charlotte, Blair will not only do whatever he can to help, he’ll help teach you how to do it for yourself. I certainly couldn’t imagine not only ISF, but the entire city of Charlotte, without his guidance, genuine care, and positive energy.” -Zack Lutrell, Founder of The Roaring Riot

Donate in honor of Blair and what he is doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer. Be inspired by his actions.

Meet ISF ChangeMaker,  Martin Grable…

This is my favorite photo of Isabella. I took it at a blood drive where she was personally thanking donors who were giving blood for patients just like her. Even at her young age, Isabella knew the importance of these donors.

I’ve always said more people would donate if they understood the immense and constant need for blood. If they saw pictures like this, of someone whose life literally depended on the kindness of strangers.

Isabella is emblematic of kids whose lives are lengthened, improved and even saved by people like you taking action. Giving blood, donating money, running a race, sharing a post – nothing is too small.

The fact is, all patients are as beautiful and precious as Isabella to their own families and loved ones. And you have the unique ability to make a genuine difference for them, just like Isabella did during her short life, and continues doing to this day.

“The thing I love most about Martin is that he LOVES his job.  Whenever I see him, he is always so excited to tell me about some new technology they just got in the center or some new advancement in blood donation.  Martin, like myself, can geek out about his job and I love watching his excitement. He believes in blood donation and he always reserves his donations for our blood drives.  It’s adorable. He donates his time to so many national blood organizations and committees, never asking for anything in return. I love that Martin got to know Isabella and I know that she touched him to the heart of who he is because even to this day it is hard for him to talk about her without getting choked up.  Her picture was his computer screen saver for years because I think she always reminded him of the true impact his work has on people. I remember being so touched when he called me to tell me about the blood center in Isabella’s honor. I know he was the driving force behind that and I feel like he was just as excited as I was when the doors opened.  Martin would give ISF every dollar he had because he believes in me, my team and the work we are doing and we feel it every time we are around him, which makes us want to support him in return with everything we have.” -Erin, Isabella’s Mommy

Donate in honor of Martin and Oneblood and what they are doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer.  Be inspired by their actions.

Meet ISF ChangeMaker, Kelly Singleton…

Sometimes I forget just how lucky I am that my job is to share stories like Isabella’s. During my time at OneBlood, I’ve had the honor of hearing so many incredible stories about remarkable men, women and especially children in our community who have gone through the most harrowing ordeals with cancer. So many have required blood products throughout their journeys, and so many continue to receive them to this day.

The truth is, it never gets easier hearing that another child was diagnosed with cancer. Or finding out another child has lost their battle. Because to everyone at OneBlood, these children and their families are more than just stories. They become a part of who we are. 

Blood and platelet transfusions so often play a huge part in these kids’ battles. Transfusions can make them healthy enough to receive treatments, fight longer, even beat cancer. For those kids who lose their battles, transfusions can still help give them more time with their families. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to hear a parent say all they wanted was just “one more birthday” with their child.

As you can imagine, it’s not exactly easy to convince someone to take an hour out of their day, get stuck with a needle, and donate a pint of blood. That’s where stories like Isabella’s make a huge difference. Most people don’t truly understand the importance of donating blood, and what it can actually mean for these kids. But hearing what Isabella and her family went through can ignite a spark in even the most hesitant of donors.

You can help these families. You can give them more time. Support organizations like ISF in our community so they can have the funding to possibly find cures for this horrible disease. And take a little time out of your day to donate blood or platelets. It means more than you could ever imagine.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Kelly and her team on several initiatives over the past year, and I absolutely love working with them!  Kelly has an amazing energy and excitement when it comes to her job and always looks to find ways to maximize our partnership to promote successful blood drives.  Kelly’s commitment to OneBlood and the community she works in makes me feel really good as a blood and platelet donor too. From the first time I donated platelets at OneBlood, I could tell that the staff really cared about me and wanted me to have a good experience.  I love how the staff in the donation center keeps you informed about what they are doing, and how your donation makes a difference in our community.  I really appreciate Kelly and the whole team at OneBlood for being such generous partners for ISF and the Charlotte community!” – Kerry Winslow, ISF Team

Donate in honor of Kelly and Oneblood and what they are doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer.  Be inspired by their actions.

Meet ISF ChangeMaker, Erica Byer…

The mere mention of ISF here at OneBlood Charlotte brings a smile to our faces.  They are some of our most favorite people we work with in the community. We’ve been together a long time, them and us. Them, working for a world with no more cancer.  Us, working to support cancer patients through blood donation, giving them more time to fight, more time with their families, and more time enjoying life. 

We choose to support ISF because Isabella stole our hearts long ago, and we’ll never give up fighting for kids like her.  What we do gives these tiny patients more time while waiting on a cure. What they do will find a cure someday. Kind of awesome how that works.  OB and ISF, like peas and carrots. 

“OneBlood is an amazing organization who works nonstop to obtain blood products for all the patients in need in our community. Every drop stays local & I love that! Our 2 organizations go hand-in-hand in helping our tiny cancer fighters, so we have embraced our partnership & work diligently to support each other in order to offer the best chance to all kids fighting cancer. OneBlood is the epitome of true partnership & we at ISF are incredibly honored & grateful for their support. They even named their newest blood center in Ballantyne after Isabella. 💜 Seeing Isabella’s art on the walls in the center melts my heart each time I’m there. Erica & the entire team at OneBlood is stellar. They bring inspiring dedication to helping patients – feel better, have more time with their families, get healthy, survive. What they do is beyond important. Erin has always said getting a needed blood transfusion would make all the difference to how Isabella was doing. My husband & I have faithfully supported the ISF blood drives since back when Isabella was with us. My oldest daughter was so proud to donate once she was eligible & the staff at OneBlood took such great care of her. My younger daughter will certainly do the same. We hope you too will consider donating blood or platelets at OneBlood – you truly are saving lives!” – Karen Murphy, ISF Team 

Donate in honor of Erica and Oneblood and what they are doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer.  Be inspired by their actions

Meet ISF ChangeMaker, Tim Flanagan…

When I attended my first ISF 5k/10k race for Kids Cancer I felt an immediate connection to this foundation’s mission. It was my first 10k after recovering from a shattered knee. After overcoming the difficulties from my injury, I was inspired to partner with an organization that is working so valiantly to overcome hurdles with rare pediatric cancer. My wife, Jeanine, and I hit the ground running in our support of ISF and never looked back. Since then, our commitment has only grown with our firm, MassMutual Carolinas becoming a Sustaining Sponsor and my family finding new ways to personally partner with the organization. Erin Santos and her team are an unbreakable force in impacting our local pediatric cancer community. Our family and team have had many celebrations with this organization over 2019 – one of which being a sounding board as Erin dominated the dancefloor at the Charlotte Ballet’s 2019 Dancing with Stars. 

“Tim and Jeanine Flanagan’s passion for the Isabella Santos Foundation has been contagious among their friends and family. I am so grateful to have such amazing role models who are continually giving back to the community and striving to be their best every single day. The relationships we’ve made through this organization run deep and I am so excited to see the impact Erin, her team and this foundation will make in the years to come.” – Caitlin Flanagan, Tim’s Daughter

Donate in honor of the Flanagan’s and what they are doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer. Be inspired by their actions:

Meet ISF ChangeMaker, Howie & Lauren Lang…

I met Erin in 2014 at a board meeting for a charity that I was volunteering for.  She and her whole team, although shattered by the circumstances of what brought us all there, were on fire to make a positive difference for those that still had a chance, unlike her own daughter Isabella.  It inspired me and I was hooked. My husband Howie decided to turn all of our donation efforts to Isabella Santos Foundation all year long, every year. We try to attend every event we can from buying a table at the Pumpkin Ball, attending our first Handbags, Heels and Horsepower event, the race, blood drives and more.  I constantly ask what is happening each month so we can put it on our family calendar. Sometimes we just even ask, “what do you need?” Sometimes that’s what’s needed the most. Just an ask.

And it’s a family thing for us as well.  My son Parker and Grant are good friends.  My daughter Elliot and FeFe ❤ are darling together.  They run the annual ISF race together, they eat Jersey Mikes together, they are there for each other for the happy and sad times and they know that when it’s time to give, we ALL give to ISF. 

Our hearts hurt and heal every time we donate, give blood, attend an event, or even just sit on the couch and see a memory of Isabella’s last days and just cry together.  They are our family now and that’s why we give.

“Sometimes it’s not your largest donor that makes the biggest difference.  A little here, a little there – it all ends up building up to a major impact.  I met Lauren years ago through the Ballantyne Ball and we hit it off like fast friends.  In the beginning she came to the race with her kids, wore our ISF shirts and listened to me whenever I needed a shoulder to cry on.  As our relationship developed and Howie came into the picture, I found them to have some of the biggest hearts I have ever seen. I remember being with them on the anniversary of Isabella’s passing and showing Howie a video of her near the time of her death.  He just broke down. I always knew Lauren to be one of the most caring people, but what I also found was the bigger the guy, the softer the heart – that’s Howie. Now after all these years, I find them in the crowd of every single event from the race, filling their employee’s bellies with Jersey Mike’s, buying a table at the Pumpkin Ball, and even sitting next to me at Handbags, Heels and Horsepower in November.  They love my kids as their own and would help me bury a body if I needed them to. JK. 🙂 They are what I would define as a 360 degree donor. Not only making an impact financially but also emotionally. The best thing is… I know they love Isabella more than words can describe. Even if she isn’t here with us today.” -Erin Santos, Isabella’s Mommy

Donate in honor of the Lang’s and what they are doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer.  Be inspired by their actions

Meet ISF ChangeMaker Rachel Wood…

My Mom, Sherry,  was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer and passed away… all within 5 weeks.  This just happened a little over a month ago. It happened so fast, my family still hasn’t had the chance to wrap our minds around it.  And wrap our hearts around the fact she is no longer with us. We are now in the middle of the first holiday season without her and we are feeling the sadness big time. 

I am so grateful for my Isabella Santos Foundation team who took on all my work during the last 6 weeks to give me the time I needed to fully step away to be with Mom and Dad. I never would have imagined she would have been gone so suddenly, but I can never replace the time I had with her at the end.  I can’t ignore the fact that I am having a really tough time re-emerging myself back into work. As the Marketing Director for ISF, my entire life is about cancer… talking about it, documenting journeys, spreading awareness about cancer kids and their families, promoting fundraising events, and more. So after holding my Mom’s hand as she took her last breath, for the first time I am finding it difficult to talk about cancer.

Just a week after I attended my own Mom’s Celebration of Life, I attended a funeral of one of our cancer young adults, Corey Morgan.  It made my already hurting heart hurt even more. Corey was 20 years old with stage IV Ewing’s Sarcoma and it is so unfair his parents and sweet wife were forced to bury him the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  These kids and young adults with rare cancers have so little options. My heart hurts… but I have to figure out how to turn my hurt and pain into something good for these kids. 

My Mom was my biggest cheerleader of my work with kids fighting cancer and their families. My dad requested in lieu of flowers, memorials in her name be made to our foundation.  In my Mom’s honor friends and family have donated close to $5,500 (to date) to ISF for pediatric cancer. And even though my heart is hurting… my heart couldn’t be more full!

“When Rachel started this journey more than a decade ago and sat at Erin’s side as Isabella went through Hell, none of us knew how that would impact our lives for many years to come.  Since then she has dedicated her life to helping other families avoid those same nightmares. I am expected to say she is kind, hardworking and dedicated…AND yes, she is all of that and more (husband here!). But, with that said, if I am forced to pick the one thing to focus on, it is her strength that inspires me.  This is a woman who will faint at the sight of blood (funny story), yet she spends her days at the hospital with families that are struggling in the same way that she saw Isabella suffer. Yes, she spends time with them. Yes, she tells their story to get all of us to act. But, more importantly, she brings them into her heart and they become part of her family.  Whether it is Isabella, Merritt, Madison, Corey or many of the others, she falls in love with each one, and has had to watch many of them suffer. Now try doing that over and over and over…THAT is real strength. She could apply her immeasurable talents to any industry, but she chooses to find Isabella in every child’s face, so that maybe she can help save them some suffering and bring a little joy to their life.  

So does this woman inspire me… Damn right!” – Conrad Wood, Rachel’s Husband

Donate in honor of Rachel and in her Mom’s memory.

Meet ISF ChangeMakers Mother-Son Duo, Suzie Ford & Jacob Virgil…

“Generosity is an often misused term. When thinking of Suzie, there might not be a better one. Whether it’s her time, her treasure, her support, her input, her business or her beer, she is the kind of person everyone needs in their lives. Her ability to bring value to every interaction she has allows her to play an important role, not just for the board of the Isabella Santos Foundation but the Charlotte community as a whole. Her willingness to dive headfirst into the organization and be a truly devout supporter gives our team the energy and drive we need to do the work of fighting pediatric cancer every day. Her generosity is most definitely our reward.

Every team needs someone who constantly delivers. Someone who always shows up. That person who brings a high level of consistent energy and influence to each and every interaction. Jacob Virgil is that person for the board of the Isabella Santos Foundation. He very quickly found his place amongst our team and has brought such an introspective and balanced view of our work and mission. It motivates us, empowers us and helps us achieve more. Given his effect on our team and our mission in this short time we cannot wait to see how much more we will achieve knowing Jacob will always be there to push us forward.” -Blair Primis, ISF Board of Directors

Suzie: I’m very very fortunate that my children and grandchildren are very healthy.  I can’t imagine what a parent goes through when they get that diagnosis. I have made it my goal to do whatever possible to raise funds to someday find a cure so no family has to go through the unspeakable.

Jacob: Through first and second hand experience I’ve seen what cancer can do. ISF is making a direct positive impact on children battling cancer in our community and I want to do whatever I can to help that.

We adore this photo of the two of them at a concert with Suzie’s 80 year old dad! Donate in honor of Suzie & Jacob and what they are doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer.  Be inspired by their actions.

Meet ISF ChangeMaker, Melissa Scanlon… 

We support ISF because we share the same goal: helping children with cancer find better treatment options so that they have a chance at living their dreams. We have witnessed the horror of childhood cancer firsthand and we know these families need our help. ISF has already had a tremendous impact on treatment in Charlotte and is working to build a program that will change lives in years to come and we are proud to be part of that journey. 

“Ever since her daughter Gemma‘s cancer diagnosis, Melissa has gone full steam ahead doing whatever she can to make a difference for all the kids fighting cancer. From being a 3 Wish Circle Member, to fundraising as an ISF Ambasador, eating Jersey Mike’s Subs all the time, and attending our events… Melissa and family are consistent!  We at ISF are so thankful Gemma is doing great & are honored to have Melissa join us to ensure other kids have a success story too.” – Karen Murphy, ISF TEAM

Donate in honor of Melissa and Gemma and what they are doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer.  Be inspired by their actions.

Meet ISF ChangeMaker, Jamie Walker…

When I attended my first Coffee for a Cure I was immediately drawn into the mission of ISF. Even more than the mission, I was drawn to the people behind the mission. The team, the families, the kids. Listening to siblings share about their loss was more than this Mama could ever imagine for my own children.  I knew that our family would give to ISF in a big way for as long as we were able to. I’ve continued that pledge ever since and have witnessed the advancements of our dollars and hearts at work. I can see this group of givers making a difference in the fight to end cancer. But most importantly, I also understand that the real change comes from what we can’t see.  Yet!

“The think I love most about Jamie’s commitment to ISF is because I honestly think her donation comes from her connection from being a Mom.  Her family means so much to her and I feel like this touches so close to her heart. Jamie impresses me every day with what she has built with her R&F business with a team of over 10,000 people worldwide.  Not only has she built an empire of her own but she understands the importance of working hard and all the good things that can come from it. I know we are not the only charity Jamie is behind because I watch her and Joe travel to Africa to help children in need, lead other charity events, and still manage to show up whenever ISF needs them.  She and Joe support us in so many ways and they have even become a spokesperson for us on the impact of the Three Wish Circle. I love having people who have come into the Foundation for reasons of their own – who were once strangers to me, but over time I have grown to call them my friends. They really are some of the best people I know and I’m so honored when they chose us to make an impact with year over year.”  Erin Santos, Isabella’s Mommy

Donate in honor of Jamie and what she is doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer.  Be inspired by her actions.

Meet ISF ChangeMaker, All-In to Fight Cancer…

“When we first came across the All-In to Fight Cancer team, we were so interested in what they were doing for the CLT cancer community. We admired that they were a stand alone group, created in honor of Rob Ubank, to increase public awareness and raise money to find a cure for cancer. ALL cancers. Their vision, through his inspiration, was to help local organizations within our community, do just that. Rob’s own cancer battle inspired the organization to create All In and the Texas Hold’em event. In their words, “Rob wanted us to care about each person with whom we come in contact, to be a mentor to others, to make a person’s life better when you can, to forgive easily, to choose to be positive, and to allow God to work through us. This was his gift to us, All-In To Fight Cancer is our gift back to him”. Never in a million years did we think we would be fortunate enough to partner with them. We were blown away when a connection was made and they wanted to add us to their list of other beneficiaries that were top notch in our community. We so incredibly grateful for this amazing partnership that we have built over the past several years. To date, “All -In” has been one of the TOP contributors to ISF and has helped us move the needle in CLT and in the pediatric cancer space. With their generous support, they have allowed Rob’s fingerprints and legacy to now be permanently placed on the state of the art MIBG Treatment Suite built at LCH and will continue to help us make a huge impact on the mission of ISF and childhood cancer. They are AMAZING to work with and their event is one of the most fun and well run we have seen!” – Maitland Danner, ISF Team

A grassroots, nonprofit group, All-In to Fight Cancer raises money for local cancer causes by hosting Texas Hold’em fundraisers. According to event director, Erin Zegar, Isabella Santos Foundation was selected as an AITFC beneficiary because of our relentless focus on ending childhood cancer. AITFC is a generous partner in our efforts to fund the ISF Rare and Solid Tumor program at Levine Cancer Institute having donated over $78,000 in the past three years and having committed to another significant donation later this month.

Donate in honor of the All-In to Fight Cancer and what they are doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer. Be inspired by their actions

Meet ISF ChangeMakers, Kimberly & David Smith…

Giving is so easy. I think sometimes people get caught up in feeling like it needs to be a grand gesture. The most important thing is to just get started.

When Isabella was first diagnosed, we just wanted to do something. I couldn’t fathom what she and the family were going through. So we just started giving and supporting. Over time our giving has evolved. As we’ve watched the organization grow, we’ve been impressed with how it’s managed and the difference it’s making in our community and beyond. Our giving has evolved/increased over the years, but it all started with just doing something. One day at a time, one gift at a time. Do something, get started. Why not today?

“Kimberly and David are our silent but deadly supporters. So many times when we have events, I take a look at the giving reports and there they are time and time again. They support us in so many different ways, all quietly behind the scenes. Not only are they founding members of our 3 Wish Circle but many of our other founding members are with us through Kimberly’s connections. Some of our best auction items come from Kimberly each year and forget trying to take home an auction item – because chances are she will outbid you too. She has also become a sounding board for me. I can call Kimberly any time of the day, and if she isn’t out delivering Friendship Trays to those in need – she gives me the feedback and guidance I’m looking for on how to change and shape this foundation. I go to her again and again because she is honest and I know she wants to Foundation to grow and succeed – just like me.” -Erin Santos, Isabella’s Mommy

Donate in honor of the Smith’s and what they are doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer. Be inspired by their actions.

Meet ISF ChangeMaker, Jenn Jackson…

Have you ever experienced one of those moments when you just knew your life changed course?  Maybe in that moment, you couldn’t quite put your finger on it… but you just knew?

I attended an ISF coffee fundraiser and was stunned to hear the statistics about the lack of funding and research provided to children with rare pediatric cancer.   I was blown away by the courage and bravery of Erin Santos. Erin spoke on behalf of these children and for her own child which she lost when Isabella was only 7. Erin’s fearlessness and way with words moved me. She was gutsy. Unapologetic. 

I didn’t stop thinking about little Isabella, Erin or the foundation for days or weeks afterwards.  I was so moved and impressed by what I experienced it inspired me to want to do more. How could I do more?

I produce the Charlotte Auto Show and our team had been considering a revamp on our charity preview event.  Our goal was to bring more new attendees and women into the show. The concept hit me on my commute to work one day:  Handbags, Heels & Horsepower benefiting the Isabella Santos Foundation.   This has now become our signature charity preview event for the Charlotte Auto Show where 30 designer handbags and heels are placed up for raffle.  In the last two years, we’ve raised nearly $200,000 for the Isabella Santos Foundation.  

ISF is changing the trajectory of treatments and research for children diagnosed with rare pediatric cancer RIGHT HERE in our city.   ISF is breaking boundaries in non-profit relationships with healthcare. These are just a few reasons why I choose to make an impact alongside the foundation.  

I didn’t have the chance to meet or know Isabella, but I feel a sense of obligation for her and every child afflicted with this horrible diagnosis.  I know the women, families and organizations that stand behind ISF feel the same. 

“We’re blushing when we talk about this next ChangeMaker  – – and ya’ll know it takes a lot to make this group blush. Why? Because of all the charities in Charlotte she picked US.  Meet Jenn Jackson. She’s the Executive Director of the Charlotte Auto Show. Jenn created a special event to kick off the Charlotte Auto Show and decided it needed a some heart, a charity association to give back to our community.  Of all the organizations that do amazing things in Charlotte, Jenn chose The Isabella Santos Foundation. Last year, The Charlotte Auto Show’s donation was the final amount to push us over our final dollars for the MIBG room at Levine Children’s Hospital.  Jenn did that. Over the last two years, this dynamo of a lady has helped raise $200K for ISF. We like her because she’s fierce and fearless like us. And she’s not a part time fan of ISF. This woman ran in the ISF 5K and showed up at our Pumpkin Ball. She’s all in for us, more importantly, she’s all in for our ISF kiddos who are fighting for their lives.” -Sandra Szoke, ISF Board of Directors

Donate in honor of Jenn and what she is doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer.  Be inspired by her actions.

Meet ISF ChangeMaker, Lisa Weaver…

My involvement in support of the Isabella Santos Foundation has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. My husband, Scott, and two girls, Samantha and Ava, are also very passionate about the foundation.  Scott recently completed his 40th platelet donation in honor of Isabella- which is outstanding! Both girls have loved participating year after year in the annual Race for Kids Cancer and have attended many special ISF events.  Samantha was thrilled to help to start an Isabella Santos Foundation Club at her High School this year. It has been wonderful to see the Club’s officers, Faculty Sponsor and members already very active in providing support to the Foundation.  Our family has also worked to connect local businesses that we admire to ISF with sponsorships at ISF events to not only provide a positive brand recognition opportunity to the business but also serve to raise funds for ISF and spread awareness of ISF’s mission to the business and their customers.   Over the past couple of years I have taken the lead role in organizing the Kids Zone at the annual Race in September. I have had the opportunity to meet some truly amazing and generous people in the community with vendors and organizations that come out year after year donating products, services and time to help to make race day a blast for the kids and families in attendance.    I joined Isabella’s Run Team in 2019 and can proudly say I can finally run a 5K! After always saying running was one thing I could not do, training in memory of Isabella, along with the guidance and support from the awesome coaches, gave me the purpose I needed.

Being involved reminds me of how they are fighting for all of our children, to change the outcome of this dreaded disease.  My support of ISF allows me to be a part of that. Together we can make a difference.

“Lisa is the type of supporter every organization dreams of having.  She is one of the kindest, most giving people I have ever met and she is one of the many great people who have come into my life from the loss of Isabella.  She and her husband Scott not only donate, but they invite their friends and family to do the same. She heads up our Kids Zone each year with flawless detail, helps secure auction items, brings new sponsors into ISF, volunteers and participates at our events, and I swear her entire wardrobe is ISF or Cancer Messed With.  She is a walking billboard for ISF. Her entire family is behind our mission and they all seem to do their part in different ways, so the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree here. I know she is cringing by us recognizing her because she never wants to be thanked, but we can’t help it. Seriously… if I could clone her I would. Can we all just be like Lisa?” -Erin, Isabella’s Mommy

Donate in honor of Lisa and what she is doing to help ISF create change for kids with pediatric cancer.  Be inspired by her actions.

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