On episode 62 of the Nooze Hounds podcast, I talked to Erin Santos, founder and executive director of the Isabella Santos Foundation, which will celebrate its 15-year anniversary in October. The nonprofit organization was founded in 2007 following Erin’s daughter Isabella’s neuroblastoma diagnosis.
While the Isabella Santos Foundation was originally created to help Isabella’s family fund treatment and the travel that it took to receive said treatment, it has evolved over the years and has since raised $9 million and donated just over $6 million toward its mission of improving treatments for rare pediatric cancer, expanding research and supporting families.
Though Isabella passed away in June 2012, Erin has continued as the face of the Isabella Santos Foundation, and in our recent podcast we discuss the toll that has taken and her journey in pursuing a life separate from that public persona. She discussed her recent wedding to Blair Primis, how difficult it was to get back into dating, and before then, the difficulties involved with keeping a marriage together following the death of a child.
We also discussed how Erin and her team have fought to accomplish their mission, which came from her own family’s realization that they would have to seek treatment for Isabella out of state. The Isabella Santos Foundation has played a huge role in helping launch the Levine Children’s Hospital’s Levine Children’s Rare & Solid Tumor Program.
“It no longer becomes a choice they have to make,” Santos told Queen City Nerve in our recent 100th Issue follow-up. “‘Can we do this? Can our child handle treatment in another city?’ Those questions are now irrelevant because of what we built. It’s what pushes us every day.”
We also discussed the 15th annual Isabella Santos Foundation 5K for Kids Cancer, scheduled for Oct. 15, and why Erin and her team decided just this week that this year’s race will be the foundation’s last.