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If You Build It, They Will Come

Families are traveling to Charlotte from around the globe to receive care from the pediatric cancer program at Levine Children’s.

#VolunteerAppreciationWeek

Three cheers for volunteers! Not only do we appreciate you… we miss you!

April 19-25 is #VolunteerAppreciationWeek and we are grateful for every volunteer (little and big) who contribute to make our mission of fighting rare pediatric cancer a reality to #beatgrowlive. With stay at home orders, we miss seeing all of our volunteers and physically working by your side. We absolutely can’t function without the hundreds of amazing individuals who support our program. Our volunteers help out with events, pack bags, prepare & serve meals, hand out medals, develop run schedules, donate talents, hours and time. And so much more.

Thank you to all our volunteers, below are just a few we featured throughout Volunteer Appreciation Week!

Lending Tree

We love our corporate volunteer groups who volunteer together! Team building while doing something good. During our 2019 race our KidsZone Sponsor, LendingTree, volunteered as a team in the Kids Zone. They brought with them piggy banks and helped all the kiddos decorate to help spread the message about money management. Thank you Lending Tree for all your volunteerism, we see how much you do in the Charlotte community and we appreciate you!

Volunteer Cheryl

Meet Cheryl. This sweet lady has been a dedicated ISF volunteer for years. And when we say years, almost since the beginning! She has volunteered in almost every capacity at many functions and events… thank you Cheryl for sticking with us for so long! We simply can’t continue striving for change for kids with rare cancers without you!

Sisters Elizabeth & Emma Kate

These two sisters have volunteered for ISF since they were little. Elizabeth & Emma Kate lived down the street from Isabella and watched her cancer fight ultimately take her life… they were personally touched and inspired to do what they can to help other kids fighting cancer ever since. They recruit their friends, they spread awareness and they work events throughout the year. These two not only volunteer for ISF, but have been involved and volunteer with several groups including Arthritis Foundation, RedCross & Best Buddies through their high school and volunteer opportunities through their church. 

We love when young people are drawn to make a difference! Thank you Elizabeth & Emma Kate for your passion and dedication for ISF. And thank you to all your friends for joining in on the fun too!

Volunteer Julie

This is Julie! For us to know that we have so many consistent and reliable volunteers helps us breathe just a little easier! We are confident every event will run smoothly because of individuals like Julie. She has volunteered in many capacities from working events, ticket sales and helping with our auction year after year. She was also on deck to volunteer her photography skills and talent at this years coffee events before they were called off. Thank you Julie for always being right there and willing when we need you!

Marvin Ridge ISF Club

Meet the Marvin Ridge ISF Club… a charity club that several passionate girls developed at Marvin Ridge High (Union County, NC).  The club has 32 members with a faculty advisor and is dedicated to charity work.  Since their inception they have volunteered at many events including our September 5k/10k and our October Pumpkin Charity Ball.  We love the initiative the members put behind this club and know if there is a volunteer need, they are just a phone call away!  

“With our club we have been able to spread awareness about the Foundation and the incredible things they do. We informed all of our members about their mission as well as the benefits and impact to our local community. As a club we strived to help the Foundation whether it be volunteering at events or just spreading information around the school. We also spent time volunteering for other local charities that the Foundation helps to support that needed assistance like the Ronald McDonald House.   Before the virus we were selling friendship bracelets to our friends and family. When we are safely back in school we hope to resume sales and plan to donate the proceeds to the Foundation.   In the future we are planning on continuing to help ISF with their volunteer needs as well as other local charities that help to support kids and their families fighting cancer.”

Thank you Marvin Ridge ISF Club, we love the service you provide and the example you set for others your age!

March Executive Director Dish

Executive Director Update, March 2019, Written by Erin Santos

It got a little emotional. This girl is incredible!

What a month we have had since my last Executive Update.  It honestly seems like such a blur because for me personally, I haven’t been this busy in a long time.  It was one of those months where I feel like I might have taken on too much.  As usual, my team surrounds me during these times and always steps up to handle what falls off my plate.  

For me, the biggest task I had this month was the Charlotte Ballet’s Dancing the Stars event.  It was a stressful journey for me because I found myself going back and forth over what was stressing me out more.  While I knew this event was going to bring great awareness to ISF, it was difficult for me to fundraise.  The competitive nature of who I am just couldn’t shake it but my team kept assuring me where I fell in the fundraising was not the most important reason why I was doing this. Bringing awareness to the foundation and what we are doing for kids fighting cancer was the primary reason.  In the end, I raised just over $86,000 and approximately $35,000 will come back to our organization, which we are very grateful for.  I know many of our supporters were hesitant to donate because you would have preferred for 100% of your donation to come to ISF.  We get that.  And for those of you who wanted to support and have your entire donation go to us, I would love for you to donate to Isabella’s Wish Fundraiser to help us reach our $6,000 fundraising goal to gift to Make-A-Wish for a wish trip.  Did you see my latest blog about spending time with Sydney, the wish child we helped fund last year? Incredibly surreal.

My Spirit Animal (also my dance partner)

The dancing also became stressful.  My body just wasn’t doing the things I needed it to do and I felt like I was constantly in pain.  This got old and I found myself being grumpy often.  No matter how much Advil and Epson salt baths I would take, the next day of dancing would just send me back into soreness.  I’m not quite sure how these dancers do this every day.  It was eye-opening for sure.  

The night of the event couldn’t come soon enough.  I was styled by the one and only Whitely Hamlin (The Queen City Style) and Neiman Marcus provided me with the most gorgeous dress I have ever worn.  Having my group of supporters with me that night helped shake off the jitters and I felt so loved by them all.  My dancer partner Juwan was a professional as always and made me feel like I could accomplish anything.  Even though I made quite a few mistakes, we ended up taking home the Judges Choice award for best dance and the night was finally behind me.  

Overall amazing experience… but definitely happy to have it behind me.  

While I was running around training with DWTS, the team was moving all the other pieces of the Foundation along.  We completed an amazing campaign for our Cancer Messed With product with the help of many wonderful people in the community.  We hope you enjoyed seeing all of the “Cancer Messed with the Wrong City” shirts as we spread love to cancer patients everywhere with our #cancermessedwith social posts.  Thanks to our continued Angel investor, we are starting to double down on CMW and you will see lots of exciting changes with the product coming in the next quarter.  If you don’t follow CMW on Instagram, be sure to so you can watch everything come together.

Karen Murphy

Our head of Corporate Sponsorships has been KILLING it this last month.  Karen Murphy continues to blow me away each month as she does a great job communicating with our sponsors about what we are doing at ISF.  Of course, our largest partners continue to see the importance of what we are doing here in the community and come back year over year.  Brighthouse Financial, Community Blood Center of the Carolinas, Modern Nissan of Lake Norman, Scoop Charlotte, Atrium Health, Mass Mutual Carolinas and Noda Brewing Company have once again aligned with us as sustaining partners and we appreciate all they do for us.  Karen is meeting with people every day and we love seeing new companies as well as continued partnerships signing up to be a part of our mission.  We still have a couple of sustaining sponsorships available so contact Karen if you are interested.

Kerry Winslow

Speaking of Corporations, Kerry Winslow our Director of Corporate Philanthropy has been plugging away at our first ever Networking Event scheduled for this month at the City Club in Uptown Charlotte.  As we try to expand our reach into the Uptown area, we feel that it is critical to get our mission out to these companies.  Gene Woods from Atrium Health with be joining us for a meet and mingle to learn a little more about who we are and what we are doing for the city of Charlotte.  Educating the community on our impact is one way we hope to make a difference and Kerry is leading the charge in this effort.

Tia Wackerhagen

Our Three Wish Circle and Ambassador team is gearing up for another year of supporting ISF is a big way.  Our 3 wish members are such great advocates for us in the community because they really get what we are trying to do here.  Tia Wackerhagen, our Development Director is already in communication with these families to fine tune our giving society and hope to bring more members into this exclusive group of donors.  Our Ambassadors wrapped up a fundraising season that blew us away and we are hoping to bring them back this year as well as grow the team to continue to make a difference for the families receiving MIBG treatment.

Rachel Wood

Marketing.  Good lord is this a full plate.  Not only is our Director of Marketing, Rachel Wood, managing the day to day ISF marketing and social communication but redesigning the look and feel of ISF as well as our website.  We want to be able to provide the most up to date information on what we are doing in the community and the patients we are supporting and this job is never-ending.  Rachel was the brains behind the CMW campaign in February, organizing a meet up with our Make-A-Wish recipient Sydney, all of the Jersey Mike’s Month of Giving marketing and more.  Her to-do list every day gives me anxiety so I hope you are enjoying the content she provides!  It’s a ton!

Maitland Danner

And Maitland Danner. What would our foundation do without Maitland.  She is the jack of all trades.  The glue that holds it all together.  The voice of reason. The planner and everything in between that I didn’t mention.  She has her hands in every single detail of ISF and we could not run without her.

Our upcoming month is one of the biggest of the year at ISF.  We have so much happened that it’s hard to wrap our head around it.  Isabella’s 14th birthday is this Saturday, which is unreal to me.  Our partnership at the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas is the ONLY way for me to get through the day.  This is the BIGGEST blood drive we have ever had and we already have over 200 appointments.  We are hoping to creep up to 500 by Saturday and need all the help we can get.  We also hope to raise enough money to grant a wish in Isabella’s honor so help us if you can.

March is also Jersey Mike’s Month of Giving.  You know the event and why wouldn’t you support a business that directly impacts the Charlotte community?  And all you have to do is eat subs!  Throughout the entire month of March eat at 39 greater Charlotte Jersey Mike’s Subs, use the weekly coupons here, you can make an in-store donation and buy a cookie. 100% of cookie sales go back to the foundation all month long. What you save through the coupon, give back at the register! Easy!  The big day is March 27th, ‘Day of Giving’,  where 100% of sales go back to the Isabella Santos Foundation at participating stores in the Greater Charlotte area.  Last year we received $135,000… unreal! We absolutely love our Jersey Mikes partnership.

I’m want to take a minute to thank our amazing Board of Directors here at ISF.  This group has almost a full year under their belts and these people have been a godsend to the organization.  We are growing our board and our current members have opened doors for us that we never thought were possible.  The commitment these people have to our mission is unbelievable and we are so excited to expand our board next month by doubling our board seats.  It makes me excited to see our year ahead.  So thank you to the ISF board for taking us to the next level yet again.

Okay, so ways you can help this month….

  1. Schedule a Blood Donation Appointment for Saturday
  2. Donate to Help Fund a Wish in honor of Isabella’s Birthday
  3. Eat Jersey Mike’s Subs this month like it’s your job
  4. Eat at Melting Pot for their March Fondue Raiser
  5. Become a Sponsor
  6. Follow CMW on Social Media
  7. Purchase a CMW Shirt to Support Someone You Know
  8. Follow, Like, Share & Comment on our ISF Social Posts:  ISF Facebook, ISF Instagram, ISF LinkedIn
  9. Become an Ambassador for ISF
  10. Reach out to us!  Have an idea, what to get involved?

March is big.  Be a part of it.  Don’t just watch from the sidelines – get involved with us.  

Isabella Santos Foundation Receives $45,000 Gift from All-In to Fight Cancer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Aug. 13, 2018 – The Isabella Santos Foundation announced today that it received a $45,000 donation from the All-In to Fight Cancer 2018 Texas Hold’em fundraiser.

“The Isabella Santos Foundation is a wonderful beneficiary partner and we are thrilled to be able to support their mission and make an impact on our local cancer community,” said Steve Amedio, co-founder of All-In to Fight Cancer.

The donation to Isabella Santos Foundation will support research for neuroblastoma and other rare pediatric cancers, including two endeavors at Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s Hospital: the MIBG Suite, a specialized therapy program which is under construction, and the Isabella Santos Foundation Rare and Solid Tumor Programannounced earlier this year.

“We greatly appreciate the generous donation from All-In to Fight Cancer and being among its cancer charity partners,” said Erin Santos, Executive Director and President of the Isabella Santos Foundation. “The All-In Texas Hold’em fundraiser is a terrific event that brings the community together to make incredible things happen for cancer patients in our Queen City.”

About All-In To Fight Cancer

Founded in 2010, All-In to Fight Cancer is a grassroots, nonprofit group dedicated to increasing public awareness and raising money to find a cure for cancer, by hosting Texas Hold’em tournaments. To date, they have raised over $1,000,000 to support the fight against cancer. Each year, they choose benefitting organizations that are doing incredible things in the local cancer community. They are a grassroots organization that is committed to keeping their funding local and as high-impact as possible – every penny of our proceeds goes straight to our partners. For more information, visit http://www.allintofightcancer.org/.

About Isabella Santos Foundation

The Isabella Santos Foundation (ISF) is a 501(c)3 childhood cancer foundation dedicated to raising funds for research for neuroblastoma, other rare pediatric cancers, and charities that directly impact the lives of children with cancer. ISF was founded in honor of Isabella Santos from Charlotte, N.C. who lost her battle against neuroblastoma. ISF works to improve rare pediatric cancer treatment options in an effort to improve the survival rate of kids with cancer. For more information, visit www.isabellasantosfoundation.org  or follow ISF on Facebook (www.facebook.com/IsabellaSantosFoundation), Instagram (www.instagram.com/theisfoundation) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/TheISFoundation).

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CONTACT:

Jenni Walker – Walker PR Group – 980-339-8041-office/704-649-6571-cell

jenni@walkerprgroup.com

#WishWednesday: American Girl Gifts

The Isabella Santos Foundation September 5k/10/Fun Run for Kids Cancer event is approaching fast on September 29th, 2018.  We hold this event in September for one reason… to raise awareness for pediatric cancer awareness month and push YOU to take action.  Last year we had almost 3,000 participants and raised close to $380,000!   This event was started in honor of one girl’s fight against neuroblastoma and we love to see how it continues to grow each year in her honor.  The proceeds from this event support our foundation’s commitment to establish the Isabella Santos Foundation Rare & Solid Tumor Program at Levine Children’s Hospital, a $5 million commitment.

Every year our Auction Committee works tooth on one of our most coveted race day activities, the ISF Auction & Raffle.  We pride ourselves in creating one of the best ISF Auction & Raffles in the city.  But we can’t do it without our generous supporters and businesses.  Are you willing to help us create a must-have package?

Isabella and her American Girl Doll

Isabella didn’t go many places without her American Girl dolls… even at the hospital receiving blood products as pictured here! Isabella spent hours dressing her dolls and picking out their outfits.  They were her comfort items during childhood cancer treatments.

For today’s Wish Wednesday ask we are requesting all things American Girl for our upcoming auction at our 11th Annual 5k/10k For Kids Cancer event. Anything American Girl is appreciated: gift cards, dolls, outfits and accessories. These dolls brought so much joy to Isabella, help us bring joy to another little girl in her honor!

Mail to:

Melanie Miller/ISF Auction Chair
9930 Hazelview Drive
Charlotte 28277