Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Note of Thanks

This afternoon, the staff at Heroes for Children received the following email note of thanks from Caren Heilman, pediatric oncology social worker at Dell Children's Hospital in Austin. It is notes like this one that make us feel truly blessed to work each day to support families battling childhood cancer.

Thank you, Caren, for sharing!!

I just wanted to send a thank you note to everyone at Heroes For Children. Thanks for all you do for our families through financial assistance and the laptop program. At this time of year, it has made a significant difference to be able to tell families that we can get a bill paid for them when things seem to be impossible from their perspective.

It has been especially remarkable to give out the rest of the laptops that were allocated to our patients. The looks on our patients’ faces has been priceless. Several parents even became tearful. I wanted to share that most of them are so appreciative, but one patient was in disbelief. He examined the laptop very closely and began planning how he would go about taking care of it to ensure that his siblings (all six that remain in the home) would not damage it. He read the release several times and then got out his phone and began typing in information (I am guessing the name and location of your organization—I didn’t ask because his mother was so moved that she was crying and talking to me at the same time). I would not be a bit surprised if he ends up contacting you himself.

So thanks to all of you from all of us. Thanks for making it possible for us to bear witness to these little moments. These are some of those inspiring moments that remind me how very much I love my job. Our staff has gone through a difficult time lately, but when I tell them these stories, or they get to take part in these moments, it sticks with us for a long time and makes the difficulty just a little more bearable.

Happy holidays and peace to you all,

Monday, December 14, 2009

December Volunteer of the Month

I can't think of a better person to highlight this month than Ashley McClain. When she became involved with our organization this summer, it was just days before her big surgery. Co-Founder Larissa Linton shared her conversation with Ashley and how inspired she was that Ashley wanted to get involved through our Heroes for Children 5K Run/Walk. Days after her surgery, the first step in her battle with breast cancer, Ashley was rallying friends, family, coworkers and everyone else she knew to get involved with the 5K. Her team Fighting Spirit blew us away at the event! Ashley won Best Team Captain for her work and her team won Highest Fundraising Team.

Since then, Ashley has volunteered her time, helping with data entry or working on a mailing. This is in between juggling her work, family, and oh yeah, her own treatment. Ashley continues to amaze and inspire all of us at Heroes for Children. Her story is incredible. I'll leave it to her words for you to learn more about our Volunteer of the Month, Ashley.

Name, Occupation:
Ashley McClain. I am an attorney by trade but have worked for Chubb Insurance for the last 8 years handling employment law and casualty claims. It is a great job and much better than practicing law!

How did you get involved with HFC?
In the beginning of July, my family spent the night at the Great Wolfe Lodge. While there, I ran across a little boy around my kids’ age (6-7 years old) who had cancer. He had lost his hair and it appeared that his dad had supported his son by shaving his head. They were having the time of their lives but at one point I heard the little boy, who was obviously upset and in pain, say that he did not feel well and needed to go back to his room. I was full of so many emotions watching this family-I felt blessed that they had the opportunity to laugh, play and enjoy their time at the water park but also was deeply saddened by the unexplained pain and experiences the child, his sister and his parents were obviously going through. While watching the family, I found myself laughing with them while at the same time tears rolling down my face. I spent hours thinking of this family and could not get them off of my mind and heart.

Even though days passed after our trip, I would still go to sleep and wake up thinking about why this family had been stricken by cancer. I called the Great Wolfe Lodge several times to find out how I could help similar families enjoy their precious time they had together and after a long game of phone tag, they directed me to Make-a-Wish Foundation. However, a short 20 days after our trip to the Great Wolfe Lodge and before I could contact Make-a-Wish, I was diagnosed with cancer.

The news was not fun to hear but all I could think about was that I can beat cancer and I knew something good will come out of it for my family, friends and myself. I have a truly blessed life with a great husband (even though he can be a little much at times); two wonderful kids; an awesome family that is always there for me; fun, crazy and caring friends; a great job and a truly remarkable church, St. Andrew United Methodist Church.

I knew I would get better and my only wish was that my journey could help people that were not as blessed-- such as the little boy who touched my heart. While praying for how my journey could help others, I came across the wonderful organization-Heroes for Children. I loved Heroes for Children because they provide financial and social assistance to Texas families with children battling cancer. To top things off, when I was doing my research, I saw they were holding their 5k on September 12th—which is my awesome niece Tiffani’s birthday. Tiffani and I had been talking about running a 5k in the Fall of 2009 for over a year. As I started chemo on September 3rd, I was not able to run the 5k with Tiffani but she and about 70 other of my friends and family joined her and my team, Fighting Spirit, for the race. The ladies at Heroes for Children and their mission really touched me during this time and I have really enjoyed volunteering there since the race.

Do you have any kids and/or pets?
I have two wonderful girls. Avery is in 2nd grade and is my princess. Kendall is in 1st grade and is my jokester. Kendall and I have bad allergies so we don’t have any pets but enjoy the neighbors’ animals.

From looking at you, no one would guess that…..
I love to watch sports (any and all kind) and play games (poker, pool, board games, fantasy sports, etc). I am very competitive!

Favorite place to eat:
Finos-which is a little Italian restaurant across the street from my house in Plano. If you have not been there, I would highly recommend it. If you go, there is a very good chance you will see me there because we eat there at least once a week. The guys there are all from Italy and make some great food.

What’s on your book shelf?
All of the Twilight books—such a great love story! I also have my journal that I write in when I feel inspired, worried or just bored.

What’s in your iPod/CD changer?
I love the Taylors—Taylor Swift and Taylor Hicks (yes—the American Idol winner from several years ago!) I know after hearing I read Twilight and listen to Taylor Swift, you might think I am a 13 year old girl. Well I am not—I am 39!

Who’s your hero?
Ellen DeGeneres—I love anyone who can make people laugh, is comfortable being themselves and does such great things for people less fortunate.

Monday, November 30, 2009

November Volunteer of the Month

Dear Blog Readers,

I apologize for the tardiness of our normal monthly segment of the Volunteer of the Month. We've had a VERY busy November! Our Volunteer of the Month, Jacquelyn Ghorayeb, was extremely busy this month with Heroes for Children, prepping for our Holiday Heroes program. Jacquelyn has been in charge of coordinating more than 100 volunteers in Dallas and Collin County of our HFC Friends Women's Auxiliary to shop, wrap, and prepare to donate gifts to the chosen Holiday Heroes families. She shopped for days at Walmart with teams of volunteers, and this weekend, Jacquelyn will be attending the holiday party in Dallas hosted by the Pi Phis of SMU to meet the families selected to participate in 2009.

We're so grateful to have a volunteer like Jacquelyn. She is so organized and handles multiple volunteers with such ease. She shares an enthusiasm and passion for Heroes for Children, especially our Holiday Heroes program. This is her second year to serve as the Holiday Heroes Chair, and we are so lucky to have her!! We know many families who will be grateful for the work Jacquelyn is doing too.

Name, Occupation: Jacquelyn Ghorayeb, sometime lawyer, always mother.

How did you get involved with HFC?
One afternoon, Christie Cahoon (HFC board member and last year's HFC Friends President) told me about HFC and the wonderful work it does. I immediately knew that it was an organization that I wanted to join. It has been an honor to be a part of HFC.

Do you have any kids and/or pets?
I have two little girls. Sydney is six years old and Laure is three.

From looking at you, no one would guess that…..
That I love the show So You Think You Can Dance.

Favorite place to eat:
A good diner, with a big breakfast.

What’s on your book shelf?
Right now, a lot of mysteries, but I also love books with great characters and relationships.

What’s in your iPod/CD changer?
I like musicians that write their own songs, usually Austin or Nashville artists.

Who’s your hero?
My mother. She has overcome so much in her life and constantly is giving of herself.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's the Holidays!!!

With Thanksgiving next week, we are so very thankful for all of the supporters, volunteers and donors who have helped Heroes for Children GROW over the past 5 years. In five years, Heroes for Children has provided over $2.5 million in program services for families with children battling cancer in Texas. It takes a village to make it happen... from volunteers who help us raise the funds to volunteers who help us provide the programs... we appreciate everyone involved with our organization. If you are looking for a way to get involved with Heroes for Children, please contact Michelle Peacock at And look for a new blog post soon about all the different ways to be involved.

Heroes for Children is fortunate to benefit from 3 fundraising events happening over the next couple of weeks in the DFW area. We hope to see you at one of them!

1) For those of you ready to do your holiday shopping, we invite you to visit the Chi-Omega Christmas Market Nov 19-21. Heroes for Children is a beneficiary of this year's event, and we are so excited to showcase our organization. Stop by the HFC tree, browse 160 merchants and get your holiday shopping done early! For tickets, contact Jenny Scott at

2) Anyone in Southlake? Fish City Grill's First Tuesday event at their Southlake location will benefit Heroes for Children on Tuesday, December 1st! HFC will receive 15% of the day's sales. Please stop by! We will have some tshirt giveaways and we would love your support!

3) WillowBend Mall has a great off-price store called SH*OP (SHopping Off Price) which has name-brand clothing up to 70% off. They are hosting an in-store "couples night" on Thursday, December 3. For only a $5 donation at the door (to benefit Heroes for Children's 5th Birthday), you will enjoy delicious food, wine, musical entertainment, and a night out! You will also have a chance to meet HFC co-founders Larissa Linton and Jenny Scott. Stop by anytime after 5pm!

If you are looking for a charity to support with an end of year gift, Heroes for Children would love your to be your beneficiary. HFC spends approximately $15,000 per week in financial and social assistance. We rely on supporters like you to fulfill every request we receive. All donations to Heroes for Children are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

To donate online, please visit our website: Or mail in your donation to our Dallas office - checks made payable to Heroes for Children, 1701 N Collins, Suite 240, Richardson, TX 75080.

Are you on our mailing list? You can learn about everything Heroes for Children is doing throughout the year by joining. To join our mailing list, please email your contact info to

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Heroes Halloween!

Elaine Turner's team has done it again! After a week of the "Treat for Treat" promotion, a flood of generous customers came together and donated boxes and boxes of Halloween goodies for a very special cause! Heather McLeskey and Taylor Dodge from Elaine Turner's office and myself dressed up in our most colorful costumes and with the generously donated treats in hand, were able to bring a Heroes Halloween to the patients in the Texas Children's Cancer Center. As you can see in the pictures, we had just as much fun as the kiddos!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Natalie's Journey--a story of a sparkly princess battling leukemia

Written by Tammy Burraston....

I am the mother of a four-year-old cancer survivor. My daughter, Natalie, was diagnosed with Leukemia almost three years ago. After six weeks spent in the hospital without a diagnosis, she was finally diagnosed on October 12th 2006, the day before her second birthday. She has surgery and began chemotherapy the next day—her second birthday.

Pediatric cancer turns your life upside down. Somehow you accept the uncertainly of your new world; because you have no other choice and you move forward. Natalie received chemotherapy for twenty-six months. She had a central line in her chest during that entire time, which could not get wet and required weekly dressing changes.

Natalie has spent around 135 days inpatient in the hospital. She has had general anesthesia 24 times, had six surgeries (including having her gallbladder removed when she was three years old), she has had five bone marrow biopsies, and has had 17 spinal taps where chemo was put into her spinal fluid. Natalie has had major infections in her blood, one required her central line to be removed and replaced again.

Natalie had feeding and GI problems before cancer and those problems were exacerbated by treatment. She had a tube put in her nose (while awake) seven times before finally having a more permanent feeding tube placed. Natalie is still on a feeding tube. For more than two years, Natalie suffered from abdominal pain. During the early part of treatment, Natalie lost her ability to walk and even to sit. She went through physical therapy to regain her strength. She has been on more antibiotics and drugs and had more time spent in clinic than I care to remember. But nine months after finishing chemo, Natalie is doing amazingly well. She is now full of energy and plays and has fun with her brother. Her love of life has always been there. She is a joy to everyone she meets and has a sparkling personality.

One of the remarkable things about Heroes for Children is that the founders really understand what families who have a child with cancer feel like, they have both been there. They know first-hand what the experiences of cancer life are like, and they are uniquely positioned to help those of us who find ourselves facing the reality of having a child with cancer. The help they give is meaningful and creative. They give financial assistance, which is terribly important to those facing cancer. But they give more than that. Through some of their other programs, they give things that make an even more lasting impact than money to pay utility bills or medical bills ever can. They are in tune with what a cancer family actually needs- to have their life back…even if it just for a short time.

Because they know the experiences of cancer life, they know cancer families don’t just leave their child with any old babysitter and go out for a night on the town. Cancer families can’t do this because our kids need special care. That is what made the Valentines Dinner so special for us. If it hadn’t been for HFC, we would’ve had our valentine date at home. Our valentine dinner would have been shared with our sweet children at the table. Which is great, but doesn’t exactly equal a romantic valentine dinner.

The Valentine’s Dinner hosted by Heroes for Children was perfect because our children were in the room next-door under the care of professionals and surrounded by the loving HFC volunteers. We knew they were happy and safe, but we were able to have a dinner together. Just my husband and myself. Those moments are rare. To top it off, they had a photographer come and take family pictures before we dropped our children off. Our children had a fun and memorable evening and we got pictures…all three are things that cancer families cherish.

(Natalie at the 2009 Valentine's Dinner)

After Natalie got sick, life seemed segmented. When memories came to mind, I always thought of them in terms of before and after she got sick. The Princess Ball when Natalie ended chemo, provided another milestone event…grand and memorable instead of memorable and hard. Now I could add another chapter, the after chemo chapter, to celebrate. I think it would’ve been memorable and created that idyllic ‘after’ no matter what, but the grandness of the celebration was like a springboard to propel forward.

Natalie has been ALL about princesses for some time. Last year before her birthday she told me she had never been to a princess ball before. I had known that I wanted to do something very special to celebrate her finishing chemo. I wanted it to be something she would always remember, something that would make her feel as special as she is to me. I wasn’t sure I could execute the vision I had on my own. I had read about HFC’s Milestone Celebrations some time before and decided to contact them to see if they would be willing to help. I could not think of a better milestone for a child with cancer than finishing up treatment.

They quickly agreed to help and through their hard work and the generosity of many others, HFC provided Natalie with an amazing milestone celebration. Natalie has “pretend princess friends.” She tells us they are pretend, but she enjoys playing make believe about them. She was even pretending to go to a ball in the weeks leading up to her own ball. It made the upcoming surprise all the sweeter.

The Princess Ball was even more amazing than I could have possibly imagined. Everything was catered to children. It was a real fairy tale princess ball, complete with all the details…a surprise dress, a grand entrance, a dance with her prince charming, and time with her “princess friends.” Natalie loved the night and felt so special. It was truly a celebration of her and the amazing milestone she had reached. Several weeks after the ball, Natalie asked if she could go back on chemo so she could have ANOTHER princess ball. I’m not sure there is a better testament of what the ball meant to Natalie than that.

It was quite an experience for our entire family. The only thing I would’ve changed about that night is to make it longer, I wished it wouldn’t end. We were all on cloud nine. My husband, David, slept in his tux that night…he wanted the magic to continue that much. We woke up the next morning and it felt like a fairy tale. The still crisp tux let us know it hadn’t been a dream.

At the beginning of treatment, we were told Natalie would likely be treated for 2 ½ years. That was overwhelming. At that time, I could hardly imagine making it to the end of treatment. That night was a celebration of the journey Natalie had been through and our journey with her. It was a celebration of her triumphs and what she had overcome. After more than two years, she was cancer free. Reaching that milestone was a culmination of so many emotions for me…so many emotions and memories were triggered.

The music of that night brought back so many emotions in a way that only music can. Our little family clung to each other on the dance floor, eyes closed, arms wrapped around our Natalie, tears streaming down David and my face; as they played our little princesses’ song. The interesting thing about the night was that it evoked memories, but instead of evoking memories of the hard times, it evoked memories of moments where our hearts felt the most gratitude, where we felt like we were on top of the world. The interesting thing about the cancer roller coaster, is that because the low moments are SO low, the high moments are so high they take your breath away. Never before in life, have little moments and things made me feel so deeply and intensely.

My husband surprised me with a special song that night that he and I danced to. After Natalie finished her most intense part of treatment we took a little family trip, just the three of us…to celebrate making it through. We were beaten down. She had two major blood infections six weeks apart and had been experiencing the worst of her abdominal pain. Watching her in pain for so long without being able to relieve it was breaking our spirits down. We needed to escape the medical world. We took her to Sea World. As we crested the top of the mountain and began our decent into San Diego, David put this same song on. It was night and the air was full of moisture. We had the windows down and David had this song repeat over and over again for the 40 minute drive back down the mountain. He sang the song to Natalie and I in spanish over and over again…his voice cracking as tears ran down his cheeks. The symbolism and feeling of the moment were amazing., as were the next three days. It was another milestone in Natalie’s journey. It was a milestone of the heart and I did not think it could be duplicated.

I have often said that I wished my heart was a camera because not only do I want to capture pictures of moments I want to remember, but I wish there was a way I could duplicate the feelings those special moments created in my heart. The night of Natalie’s princess ball did that for me. The memories of that night in San Diego and other precious ones were woven together, forever integrated with the night of her princess ball. The princess ball helped my heart recall all of the other moments and feelings along this journey that were so special to me.

Adjusting to life after the end of treatment hasn’t been the easiest thing. New worries and stresses come along, along with a change in role. I found that during treatment, I just had to keep going to get through it, I didn’t have time to stop and mourn the losses Natalie faced or really even think about things. Since chemo ended there has been time to let those feelings surface. The night of her princess ball has been a help to me on several occasions. I think that is what means the most to me. It continues providing me with hope.

New memories were made that night. New photos of the heart were taken. It was a glittery night, full of hope, happiness, and magic. The new memories made were healing, replacing many old ones. Natalie’s dress was full of glitter and everywhere she went, glitter trailed around her. That night was like pixie dust for my soul. The memories of that night continue to provide me with hope. When days come along that I feel worried, I can close my eyes and think of that night and it renews my hope. I imagine that night along with other memories and lessons I have learned, will continue providing my soul with pixie dust throughout my entire life.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Treat for Treat - Elaine Turner benefits Heroes for Children

Join Elaine Turner at NorthPark Center in Dallas or Rice Village in Houston
in making Halloween a real treat for our heroes!

Elaine Turner is partnering with Heroes for Children
to make Halloween goodie bags for children undergoing cancer treatment at
Medical City Children's Hospital and Texas Children's Cancer Center.

Wednesday, October 21 through Sunday, October 25
come by the Elaine Turner store and drop off treats in the Halloween-decorated bins. Suggested items include: bubbles, silly straws, bouncy balls, stickers, pencils, coloring books, etcetera. The Elaine Turner team will then make goodie bags and dress up in costumes to deliver the treats for little heroes. Photos will be posted on Facebook and Twitter!

You'll be treated, too!
Join in the fun, and you get to grab a prize from our pink jack-o-lantern. Prizes include: a free pair of shoes, a free handbag, a $50 gift certificate, a 25% off coupon, a free gift with purchase, and much, much more! Limit one per customer.

"These goodie bags will brighten the days of kiddos in the hospital. I remember when my daughter Taylor was in the hospital over Halloween... it just crushes not only the spirit of the child, but the parents and siblings' spirits as well. Halloween is all about the kids, and it's just unnatural for your child to miss out on all the fun, especially because of a cancer diagnosis." - Larissa, Heroes Co-Founder

Elaine Turner NorthPark Center
8687 N. Central Expressway, Dallas, TX 75225

Elaine Turner Rice Village
2439 University Blvd., Houston, TX 77005

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October Volunteers of the Month

I love when volunteers do a project together. Co-chairs can make a dynamic duo, dividing and conquering the work to create something successful. What makes a co-chair situation even better? When they're sisters, of course!

Helena and Tina have been involved with Heroes for Children in Houston since 2007. They have been a part of the planning committee for Heroes and Handbags for several years. In February of this year, I spoke to the committee about next steps in Houston, specifically bringing our next event, Hold'Em for Heroes to the men of Houston. Immediately following the meeting, Helena and Tina approached me regarding the event.

I loved working with these two women this year. They are multi-tasking professionals and moms who truly care about the mission of the organization. They set out to create a successful event for men to enjoy. They sure did succeed! Hold'Em for Heroes was held last month in Houston, raising more than $63,000 for Heroes for Children, which includes the selling of fifteen laptops for the Laptops for Love program! We have Helena and Tina's leadership to thank for the success of this event.

Name, Occupation:

Helena: Helena Papadopoulos Johnson, Attorney

Tina: Christina “Tina” Papadopoulos Papandreou, Real Estate Attorney, Licensed Texas Real Estate Broker, Wife and Mother of 3 children

How did you get involved with HFC?

Helena: My sister told me about the organization a couple of years ago and I think it is a fantastic cause!

Tina: I was invited to the initial Houston Heroes for Children meeting before the first Heroes for Handbags event. I heard Jenny tell her personal story, was moved to tears, and have been hooked ever since.

Do you have any kids and/or pets?

Helena: Anna Maria 9 and Will 3

Tina: My husband Alexander and I have a nine-year-old boy named Christos, a five-year-old girl named Aphrodite, a two-year-old girl named Mary, and a three-year -old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Panda Bear (she’s really more like our fourth child).

From looking at you, no one would guess that…..

Helena: I am a Trekkie

Tina: I am an avid reader of financial newspapers and love watching CNBC and Bloomberg TV.

Favorite place to eat:

Helena: Right now, Smashburger and Tony's

Tina: My mother’s house. She is a phenomenal cook (especially her Greek food) and you can taste the love that she puts into the preparation of every dish. I would put my Mom up against Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) any day!

What’s on your book shelf?

Helena: Common Sense, Best American Short Stories, The Lightening Thief (my daughter is reading it)

Tina: I am a history buff and currently am reading Paradise Lost by Giles Milton about the destruction of the city of Smyrna in 1922.

What’s in your iPod/CD changer?

Helena: Lucinda Willians, Led Zeppelin, David Allan Coe, Airborne Toxic Event

Tina: Anything and everything by The Fray, Coldplay and U2.

Who’s your hero?

Helena: Jenny Scott (Editor's note--I could not be more humbled by this, especially coming from a person I respect so highly as Helena!)

Tina: My late Father, Dr CN “Gus” Papadopoulos who passed away in 2007. He immigrated to the US from Greece to attend college when he was 18, and did not speak a word of English. He went on to become an anesthesiologist and successful businessman in Houston. He was my professional mentor. My Father taught me “from those to whom much is given, much is expected.” Working with Heroes for Children has afforded me the opportunity to give back in a small way, and hopefully change people’s lives for the better. It is an honor to work with such a fine charity.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Great Day Houston!

In order to promote Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Houston supporters of HFC gathered on September 11th at the Channel 11 News station to appear on local morning show, Great Day Houston. We all dressed up and participated as part of the lively audience and after the taping finished, we were able to film a 30 second plug for Heroes for Children’s growth in Houston. As you can tell by looking at the pictures, it was great fun to stand together and support Heroes in front of a big Houston television audience! Special thanks to everyone involved.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Heroes for Children 5K in Pictures

The Heroes for Children 5K Run/Walk is a fun event each year to honor cancer families and their cancer journeys. This year was another terrific event.

Special thanks to Amanda Blankenship and Tawn Merrill, our amazing 2009 co-chairs of the event. We could not have done it without you both!

Balloon release--two red hearts to represent Allie and Taylor

In memory of Allie

In memory of Taylor

MC of the event, WFAA's Steve Stoler

Team Phillip in honor of one of our special heroes, Phillip

Allie's sister, Maggie Scott, helps with the balloon release in memory of her sister
Co-Founder, Larissa Linton, poses with the Pro Spirit team (bottom left--Taylor's sister Tristyn)
Team Fighting Spirit wins top fundraising team and best team captain (Ashley McClain)

Grand Marshal and cancer patient, Brooke Bott, leads the race with Belle from Beauty and the Beast

5K runners take off on the course

Beautiful Brooke
Enjoying the 1 Mile Fun Run

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Heroes for Children 5K Results

Heroes for Children 5K was held Saturday, September 12, 2009 at Shops at Legacy. The rain stayed away for the most part, and we had over 1,000 participants! We netted over $40,000 for families with children battling cancer.

Thank you to everyone who came out to participate! Thank you to Tawn Merrill and Amanda Blankenship, our co-chairs, and to our incredible committee for their hard work in putting together a super fun event! Thank you to our wonderful sponsors, especially our presenting sponsor - WFAA, Gold Sponsors - TXU Energy and Boardwalk Autogroup, and Silver Sponsors - Baylor Medical Center at Frisco and Buford Builders! Thank you to everyone who volunteered! We couldn't have done it without all of you!

For 5K race results, click here. For pictures from the race, click here.

Congratulations to all of the following:
Julie Wall from Dallas - 1st place female
Evan Parsons from Dallas - 1st place male
Top Individual Fundraiser - Tracey Robinson, who raised $1,585.
Top Fundraising Team - Fighting Spirit, who raised $5,680
Largest Team - Pro Spirit, with 77 participants
Outstanding Team Captain - Ashley McClain of Fighting Spirit
Best Team Spirit - Team in Training

Remember it is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month ALL MONTH! We've got four more events this week to bring more awareness! If you are in Houston, hopefully we'll see you at the Hold'Em for Heroes event Thursday night, the HFC Friends Women's Auxiliary Coffee on Friday morning, the Celebra una Noche Hispana event Friday evening, or at one of the many HFC Kick-a-thons happening across the state on Saturday! For more information about any of these activities, please contact Michelle Peacock at

Friday, September 4, 2009

September Volunteer of the Month

Our volunteer for the month of August is Stacie Hampton! I have been blessed to call Stacie a close friend since 1989 when we were pledge sisters in college. Stacie is one of those friends that sticks with you through thick and thin and she ALWAYS has a big smile on her face. She is one of the most giving people I know, and has a heart as big as Texas! Stacie was there with my family and I throughout my daughter Taylor's, battle with leukemia. It was friends like her that picked me up and kept me going during the darkest of days.
After Taylor passed away and we decided to found a charity in her name to help assist other families in need, Stacie wanted to help. At our first fundraising event, a golf tournament called "Tee off for Taylor", Stacie stepped up as a volunteer. Since then, Stacy has volunteered her time at every one of our golf tournaments! In addition to volunteering at the golf tournaments, Stacy is the volunteer coordinator EVERY year at the Heroes for Children 5K! Stacie will move mountains to make sure we have all the volunteers we need. She oversees all of the volunteers on race day, which is no easy task, with approximately 100 volunteers! Without her leadership and volunteer recruitment, HFC would never be able to pull of our 5K successfully.
Heroes for Children is extremely blessed to have the love and support of Stacie! I am thankful and blessed to call her a friend.

Stacie Hampton, Regional Sales Manager for Allstate agents

How did you get involved with HFC?

Well, Larissa Linton and I go way back. We are pledge sisters from 1989, so I was obviously involved when her daughter, Taylor, was diagnosed and lost her battle with cancer. I have been involved with HFC from the beginning and I wouldn't dream of not being involved. This organization is definitely a part of my life for a long time to come!

Do you have any kids and or pets?

Unfortunately we do not have any kiddos or pets, but we're a really great Aunt and Uncle. My hubby and I have been married for 14 years.

From looking at you no one would guess that....I can still do the splits!

Favorite place to eat:

Mexican food is my weakness and one of our favorite spots to go is a little place in Coppell, -Ole's Tex Mex. Who can pass up chips and salsa??

What is on your book shelf?

Who has time for books? I feel good when I actually read my People magazine the first week it arrives.

What's in your iPod/CD changer?

I enjoy all types of music- especially if it has a beat and you can dance to it. A sample of my frequent play list is: Lenny Kravitz, Nellie Furtado, Tim McGraw, ABBA, Lionel Richie and Aerosmith.

Who's your hero?

My Mom. Our family has been through some difficult times, and she always deals with her emotions honestly and comes out the other side with a positive attitude. Her family and friends are always her priority and she lives life to the fullest- she just went zip-lining in North Carolina! Also, she's my date every year to go see So You Think You Can Dance when they tour in town!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

It's the first day of September. The first day of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The gold ribbon, a symbol of awareness of what these children fight, should be found everywhere. It's not. Unfortunately, there are still too many people out there who are unaware of childhood cancer. It's a scary topic for many. I understand this. I was one of the people who shied away from the topic. That is, until my daughter was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

I quickly learned more about childhood cancer. More than I ever wanted to know. I learned the parts of the blood, about chemotherapy, and blood transfusions. I learned how to quickly jump up when my baby was throwing up and how to respond to her different cries of pain. I learned heartache.

But I learned so much more than that too. I learned about love--both the love of my child and my husband, the love of my incredible family, but even the love of strangers. I learned of strength. My daughter was incredibly strong, enduring so much in her little body that most adults would struggle with. I saw strength in nurses and doctors as they went through their daily work to help the children, comfort the parents, and find a cure to this disease. I saw other children going through cancer treatment having races with their IV poles down the hallway. The strength and courage of these children is a constant inspiration of my life.

I learned about mothers. The kind of mothers who have aching backs from sleeping on ICU chairs to be at their child's bedside and who didn't complain. Mothers who fight valiantly alongside their child, responding quickly to their needs. Mothers, like my co-founder and friend, Larissa, who not only had a child with cancer but juggled the demands of providing and loving the other children at home.

Finally, I learned that cancer cannot defeat a child's spirit. Though a child can be riddled with cancer, it doesn't mean he/she will stop being a child. A child wants to play, laugh, love, giggle, be goofy, scream, throw tantrums, etc whether cancer is present or not. Cancer kids are just simply KIDS. They are sweet kids who want the business of cancer to be done and the business of being a kid to continue.

This month, I challenge you to learn a little about childhood cancer. You don't need first hand knowledge like me to get a deeper understanding. You can visit organizations like Heroes for Children. Research online and get involved in your community. Attend an event that supports families and the battles with childhood cancer, such as our upcoming Heroes for Children 5K Run/Walk. You can make a difference this month during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Please consider making a donation in support of these families. Even something as simple as placing a gold ribbon on your email signature with a line about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and a link would help direct people's attention to this important topic.

Throughout this month, we will be blogging about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Keep up with us for more information about childhood cancer and what Heroes for Children does to alleviate some of the burden families face.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Celebrating More Milestones

This month two of our social programs hit big milestones. We have given 200 laptops to teens battling cancer through our Laptops for Love program and we have now celebrated our 50th Heroes Milestone.

The 200th laptop went to a young man who turned 16 this month. He was diagnosed with ALL in August 2006 and relapsed on April 2009. He is a good student and loves school but will not be able to return to school until at least January 2010. He recently had a bone marrow transplant and will remain in the hospital for several more weeks. His laptop will allow him to stay connected to his studies and hopefully lift his spirits during his road ahead. Laptops for Love was started in 2005 and the inspiration came from co-founder Jenny when she and her husband Andrew purchase a laptop for a teen with cancer they met in the hospital when Allie was sick. Today we deliver laptop to teens that are experiencing long hospital stays or are homebound and unable to attend school. The laptops help these teens stay up with their school work as well help them to stay in touch with family and friends, while in many cases, in isolation.

The 50th Milestone was a birthday celebration for a little girl turning 11, who was diagnosed with AML in December 2008 and had a bone marrow transplant in February 2009. She had an underwater themed party complete with seafood, fish and sea creature decorations and even a Little Mermaid Costume for the birthday girl. Heroes Milestone was started in 2007, by Christi Disch, in memory of her friend Kira. Kira was diagnosed with cancer just before her high school graduation. Unable to attend her own graduation, Christi and friends brought a graduation party to her! In her memory, Christi created Heroes Milestones, to help cancer patients celebrate the milestones in their lives. Heroes Milestones helps families celebrate if they are stuck in the hospital, or even if they just can't afford to because the medical bills are so overwhelming. The celebrations can include birthday parties, Quinceneras, proms, graduations, and even Celebration of Life parties for a dying child. This program will continue Kira's legacy by helping other children find happiness in celebrating their milestone events.

We look forward to delivering many more laptops and milestones!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Olympic Tae Kwon Do Champions Visit Texas Children's Cancer Center

Photo: (from left) Steven, Mark, Jean, and Diana Lopez with patient Sebastian

Texas Children's Cancer Center had a special group of visitors to the outpatient clinic this week on behalf of Heroes for Children. Olympic champions in the sport of Tae Kwon Do, the Lopez family joined by several members of their training team, visited cancer patients on Monday, August 17th. Eldest brother and Olympic coach, Jean Lopez, announced his family's support of Heroes for Children, then led a demonstration of his training athletes in some Tae Kwon Do moves. Afterwards, parents and children enjoyed personal visits with the athletes.

Heroes for Children is so proud to have supporters such as the Lopez family. Jean, Steven, Mark, and Diana are truly HEROES in our eyes. Their dedication and passion for their sport is evident in everything that they do. I am continually impress with their skills. More than that, I am so impressed with their family values. They are a unique family--very close, loving, and supportive of each other. They are proud of their accomplishments yet they are not ones to boost. They have been very kind and willing to help Heroes for Children both through our fundraising efforts and through the interaction with the patients. This summer, Diana personally visited a young woman battling leukemia in the hospital. This young lady is a Tae Kwon Do athlete herself and misses the sport while battling her cancer. She and Diana had a private visit one afternoon. I know this visit meant so much to the patient and I hope it was just as meaningful to Diana.

Special thanks to the entire Tae Kwon Do team who visited the cancer clinic on Monday. You really brought huge smiles to those kids!!

A few pictures from the day:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

James' Journey

A few years ago, I had a special visitor come to my house. James was picking up a laptop from Heroes for Children through the Laptops for Love program. He and his brothers excitedly came to my house (which was closer for them to travel then going to the hospital to pick up the laptop) and get the computer before they were off to Hawaii for his Make-a-Wish trip. They even ran all around my backyard for more than twenty minutes with my golden retriever, Brandy, leaving her happy and exhausted when they left! I really enjoyed meeting James and his family. Little did I know then that one day, James' mother would begin working for Heroes for Children as our Development Assistant. WinterFawn started working with our organization this week and we couldn't be happier to have her. Below are her words about James' Journey to lead her to the Heroes for Children office. Welcome, WinterFawn!

My name is WinterFawn Stone and I am very proud to say that I am the newest member of HFC! And before you ask, NO, my parents were not hippies and YES, I am Native American (those are the two most frequently asked questions when someone hears my name). I was born in Phoenix, Arizona and after my parents divorced when I was 6, I moved to Texas with my father and have been here ever since.

I have 4 beautiful boys: Breece (age 15), James Anthony (would have been 11), Matthew (age 8) and Lucas (age 3). I love kids and would have more if my body could handle it. Quite often you will find that we have a few kids over at our house because I love a house full of kids. And before you ask, YES, I am crazy. I am the way I am because of the influence of my very goofy father.

From left: James, Breece, Lucas, and Matthew

When I’m not at home playing with kids I’m out volunteering. I started volunteering when I was 15; I was a candy striper for the hospital in McKinney. I have also volunteered at the Suicide Crisis Center and The Samaritan Inn, Collin County’s only homeless shelter. Giving back to my community is important for me and this is something I hope my children will continue doing when they are adults.

In February of 2006 James was diagnosed with Burkett’s Lymphoma. For three months I attempted juggling my work while James was in the hospital but finally had to walk away from my position. My husband, Paul, took on more hours at work; sometimes working 12 hours a day 6 days a week, but we still struggled financially. You just don’t think about all of the little expenses when a child has cancer and it’s even more difficult when you’re faced with these expenses with one less income. It wasn’t long before one of the social workers at Medical City told me about HFC. Within days we received a check that allowed us to pay essential bills like the electric and phone bill (so I could call home when at the hospital or call the doctor when we were at home) along with giving me much needed money for food when we were at the hospital as I was pregnant with Lucas at the time.

Baby Lucas with James in the hospital

James went through 2 transplants, his last being in February 2007 (just one year after diagnosis). In May, James Anthony tested positive for CMV (a very common virus that most of the population gets at one point in their life but is very easily fought off; unless you have a weak or no immune system like James had after his transplant). Despite all the treatments they gave, James went septic on Mother’s Day 2007 and earned his angel wings.

The family on Make-a-Wish trip

Shortly after James Anthony passed, I began working for The Samaritan Inn. This was the first time I had ever worked for a nonprofit agency and I absolutely loved the work environment. So, when I found out HFC had a position available, I jumped at the opportunity. Now I have the pleasure to work for the agency that helped us greatly during the most difficult time in our lives and I’m able to help other families whose child is currently battling cancer. To say I am super excited to be working at HFC is a tremendous understatement. I look forward to many, many, MANY years with this organization.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

August Volunteer of the Month

On most Wednesday afternoons, Chris Wolfe comes to the Heroes for Children office to volunteer, meet with staff members, and sometimes join us for lunch. It always brightens my day to see Chris and visit with him. His passion for our organization and our upcoming Golf Classic (he's the 2009 chair of the event!) energizes me. Chris joined our Advisory Board this year and agreed to chair our longest running event, the Golf Classic in memory of Taylor Anne Brewton. He is one of those guys who you quickly warm up to and genuinely like (really when you see below, you'll understand why--any man who says "the sun rises and sets" with his wife and kids? You know that's a good man!).

I'm honored that Chris took the initiave of reaching out to me and Larissa after learning about Heroes for Children and became so involved this year. Chris is one of my top volunteers, a good friend, and a favorite lunch buddy!!

Oh, and Chris--I took one step in that big old truck of yours and totally knew you were a country boy at heart!! :)

Name, Occupation:
Chris Wolfe, Executive Vice President of Sales for Forsythe Solutions. Forsythe Solutions is a Technology Consulting Company.

How did you get involved with HFC?

I had been looking for about 2 years for an organization to invest in personally and associate my company with. I had looked at just about every mainstream organization possible, but nothing really touched my heart or really presented a true opportunity to visibly make an impact. I was having lunch one day with my friend, Todd Jackson, who is on the HFC Board, and he told me about his involvement with the organization. After hearing Todd’s story I was immediately compelled to set up some time with Jenny and Larissa to learn more about HFC. After 10 minutes with Jenny and Larissa (HFC Co-Founders), I knew I found something very special and I could not wait to jump in with both feet. I feel so fortunate to be involved.

Do you have any kids and/or pets?

My Amazing wife Heather and I have 3 beautiful children, Cameron(9), Andrew(6) and Caroline(3). We also have a Yellow Lab named Bailey and a miniature Beagle named Lilly. For me, the sun rises and sets with Heather and our children. We are very Blessed!

From looking at you, no one would guess that…..

I would have to say by looking at me, no one would guess that I am a country boy at heart. I don’t much dress the part anymore, but I’ll take my Truck, some George Strait a worn out pair of wranglers and some wide open country any day of the week.

Favorite place to eat:
Wow! That is a tough one. Living in Dallas we are surrounded by great restaurants. I would have to say my favorite spot to eat right now is Mattitos Tex-Mex in downtown Frisco. I think our family eats there on a weekly basis. I love their Chicken Fajitas.

What’s on your book shelf?
I am ashamed to say I am not an avid reader, I am more of a doer. However I do have a few books on the shelf. “Lead, Sell or Get Out of the Way”, By Ron Karr, “The Bourne Deception by Eric VanLustbader and “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy.

What’s in your iPod/CD changer?
I love music of any genre. I have some classic Van Halen, The Black-eyed Peas, Ludacris, Daughtry, George Strait, Garth Brooks and, don’t tell anyone, but I even have a song from Miley Cirus.

Who’s your hero?
I have been blessed to know some great people in my life but hands down my hero is my father, Ron Wolfe. My Dad has been my very best friend since I was a kid. Throughout my life he has always been there to give me support, guidance and good advice no matter the situation. What I admire most about my father is his incredible work ethic, his devotion to his family and his ability turn every setback into a success. I truly believe my Dad is the most incredible man on the planet.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Heroes for Children 5K - SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

Wow! It is the last day of July... This summer is flying by. Hope you have been enjoying it!

The 2009 Heroes for Children 5K presented by WFAA is right around the corner, and ONLINE registration is OPEN. The 5K and 1 mile fun run will take place on Saturday, September 12, 2009 at Shops at Legacy in Plano, TX.

We are really excited about this year’s event, as it marks our 5th Anniversary for Heroes for Children. As a special perk to our loyal supporters (and to those who want to become loyal supporters :)) AND to commemorate FIVE years of serving families with children battling cancer, we are offering a ONE DAY SALE of $5 OFF registration fees on August 5th from 5 am - 5 pm. This makes our event the most affordable 5K event in town!!! (Kids only $5 each and adults $15 each - and that includes a T-shirt!). The coupon code is only valid on August 5, 2009 and only available to those who register online! Use code: HFC5K09

If you like the idea of saving $5 per entry fee... you will really like the idea of FREE ENTRY!!! That’s right! YOU AND YOUR FAMILY CAN RACE FOR FREE!!! When you register online, select the option to agree to raise $150 for Heroes for Children, and your entry fee is on us. (Each person must raise $150 minimum to receive free entry.) After you register for the race, set up your online fundraising page by clicking here and then selecting “become a fundraiser.” It is so easy to fundraise for an organization like Heroes for Children because we provide direct financial and social assistance to families with children battling cancer in Texas.

We are encouraging everyone to FORM A TEAM this year! You can create a team by clicking on "Create your Team" button on the online registration page. Set up your team early and then let everyone know you are recruiting teammates (also tell them about the FREE ENTRY and/or the $5 OFF entry and encourage them to sign up for your team online!)

Remember that we will have awards for biggest team and the top fundraising team! Good Luck!

The 5K and 1 mile fun run features a Children's Entertainment Area sponsored by Concote Corporation, Eddie Coker concert, and ribbons for kids who finish the 1 mile fun run or 5K event.

You can get all the information you need about the Heroes for Children 5K at Questions? Email Michelle Peacock at

Monday, July 6, 2009

July Volunteer of the Month

Heroes for Children is really expanding our efforts in the Houston area. With the addition of our newest staff member, Mimi Bates, and our Texas Hold'Em event, Hold'Em for Heroes, we're adding some of the things we already do in Dallas. An Advisory Board made up of Houston individuals ready to work for Heroes for Children is also making a big difference. Cristina Baez and her husband Mauricio are member's of the Advisory Board. She's a Cordon Bleu trained chef who treats us during Advisory Board meetings with her amazing cooking.

Cristina is also taking on a big project this fall--introducing Heroes for Children to the Hispanic communtiy through an evening called "Celebra Una Nocha Hispana." Cristina's goal is to introduce our mission and services to the Hispanic community in Houston to show how our organization supports these families in their time of crisis. We are so lucky to have volunteers like Cristina who think outside of the box for new ways to involve others with Heroes for Children!

With that, I turn it over to Cristina!

Name, Occupation:

Cristina Baez, Owner Bleu Bites LLC--Private Chef Service

How did you get involved with HFC:

Through my friend Mary Lou Fernandez, who successfully chaired Heroes and Handbags Houston in 2008.

Do you have any kids and/or pets?

One daughter, Victoria, age 5 and one Russian Tortoise

From looking at you, no one would guess....

That I practice Tae Kwon Do.

Favorite place to eat:

My kitchen.

What's on your book shelf?

The Twilight Saga is my most recent addition.

What's in your iPod/CD changer?

ABBA, Brazilian music, Tibetan music among others

Who's your hero?

My mom.

Monday, June 29, 2009

New Houston Manager, Mimi Bates

Hi everybody, I just wanted to introduce myself as the new Houston Manager at HFC!
I am soooo excited to be a part of this amazing organization and to be able to work for such a wonderful mission! I am going to be serving the Houston area as we grow the awareness of HFC through this charitable community. I am a native Houstonian and graduated from Texas A&M University in 2006. I worked as a teacher for the two years following college at a school for families in poverty, called Yellowstone Academy. There, I was able to forge lasting relationships with children and friends that touched my heart forever. I gained experience managing dedicated volunteers and realized how vital they were to our school's success! This is a fact that I know is true at HFC as well. I also have experience with non-profit event planning as a volunteer for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. My mother was diagnosed with MS about 10 years ago and my family and I have been involved in the MS150 ever since. Every year at the MS150 finish line, my mom would wait for my family to cross and blow bubbles so they could easily recognize her. One scorching hot year she collapsed from her sensitivity to heat and had to be cared for in the ambulance on location. This incident sparked an idea in her creative mind. For 3 years now, "The Bubble Bistro" has grown into a sparkling success! What started out as a collection of a few MS patients blowing bubbles in the shade at the finish line has now evolved into a big tent with blowing fans, misting machines, cool beverages, and is a safe place for MS patients to watch and cheer on riders pass the finish line!
With these experiences driving me, I look forward to carrying out HFC's mission to help pediatric cancer patients and their families. I am already so impressed with the people who support HFC and know that together we can make great strides towards our goal!
Thank you for your support and encouragement!
Mimi Bates

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Very Own Superhero

Last month, my oldest turned 6. Brayden knows where I work and what I do at Heroes for Children. I get him involved with different programs, such as Heroes Milestones, as much as I can. Brayden’s favorite Heroes for Children event is the 5K. He is already bugging me about when it will be again and counting down the months until September 13th.


When it came time to plan Brayden’s birthday party at the bowling alley, I brought up one more program that Heroes for Children does…Superhero Birthday Club. He wasn’t sold at first. He was perplexed about not getting any presents but I did remind him that Mommy and Daddy would still give him gifts, as well as our family. I told him he would get a Superhero Birthday Club award, free entry into the 5K and a special button to wear showing that he is a Superhero. It took about all of 3 seconds for him to decide that yes, he was going to be a Superhero. Instead of his friends bringing him gifts, he was going to ask them to bring monetary donations for Heroes for Children and kids battling cancer.
It was a proud moment for me as a mom. But I wasn’t the only proud mom. One of Brayden’s friends made a sacrifice for HFC as well. Cole, age 6, donated his week’s allowance to Heroes for Children in honor of Brayden’s birthday. Cole’s donation touched our family and Brayden. Tears filled up my eyes when Brayden told my husband and I that he, too, wanted to donate money from his piggy bank to kids battling cancer.

Logo drawn by Cole, age 6

Brayden is looking even more forward to the 5K this year to show off his button and I am confident that next year he will be a Superhero once again. I’m one proud mommy!

Friday, June 5, 2009

June Volunteer of the Month

You know those people that you can't wait to see again because you love being around so much? For me, Chay Taylor is exactly that type of person. Chay is loving and sweet with a huge heart. She is one of the funniest people I know, keeping me in stitches with her expressions or stories. She's not afraid to be silly (as you will see from her picture below!) and even make fun of herself.

This coming year, Chay has a big role in our success in the Houston area. She is accepted the position as the President of HFC Friends Women's Auxiliary and she's running with it. Our first membership coffee was held in Chay's gorgeous backyard, introducing Houston ladies to HFC Friends and the programs (Holiday Heroes, Heroes Milestones, and the Valentine's Dinner) they will support at MD Anderson and Texas Children's Hospitals for 2009-2010.

If you are interested in joining Chay Taylor and the Houston ladies, please be sure to visit the HFC Friends page and sign up to be a member! Membership helps support the various programs that HFC Friends members do for cancer families throughout the year.

Name, Occupation:

Chay Flores Taylor, stay at home mom and part time go to girl.

How did you get involved with HFC?

Met Jenny at a meeting and knew I had to be involved!

Do you have any kids and/or pets?

One precocious 4 ½ year old named Sam and two labs, Doc and Pancho.

From looking at you, no one would guess that…..

I’m really shy.

Favorite place to eat:

Anything Mexican

What’s on your book shelf?

Tons of historical fiction!

What’s in your iPod/CD changer?

Florida to George Strait to Michael Buble! I love all kinds of music.

Who’s your hero?

My parents, Sally and Rigo Flores, are my heros. I know it is so cliché to say that your parents are your heroes, yet mine have overcome incredible odds and obstacles to live the life they have today. My mother grew up painfully poor in Spain and came to the US at 17 with only one small suitcase and one extra dress. My father grew up as a migrant farm worker in South Texas. Both have worked hard and did they best they had with the cards they were dealt and made an amazing life for our family. They didn’t always do things right but they constantly tried! They were amazing parents and always loved us unconditionally! Only now that I am a parent myself, do I understand and appreciate the sacrifices they have made for our family. They are my heroes, in fact, I’d choose them as friends, which you don’t hear very often!