Grateful Santa Maria family describes the hope and help they’ve receivedTeddy Bear Cancer Foundation executive director Lindsey Guerrero, left, at the TBCF Moments in Time benefit May 2 at the Santa Barbara Club, with Laura and Ronnie DeBrum of Santa Maria and their daughter, Faith, 11, who is completing her last round of chemotherapy in the coming weeks.
By Melissa Walker, Noozhawk iSociety Columnist | @NoozhawkSociety | Published on 05.09.2015 7:29 a.m.
The masked affair is a fresh direction for TBCF after seven successful years with Saks Fifth Avenue and the popular “Saks & The City” event that has raised more than $750,000. In addition to intriguing and elaborate costumes and masks — and an award was given for best mask — the evening included a fire dancer performance, casino games, raffle, auction and dancing into the late hours.
This eponymous new affair is named after one of TBCF’s signature programs, Moments in Time, and the now annual event will offer a new location each year. Moments in Time grants special requests to children with cancer, ranging from celebrity meetings to unique outings or themed surprise parties in the hospital.
The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, established in 2002 by founder Nikki Katz, is a grassroots organization that aims to assist families of children who have been diagnosed with cancer throughout Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties.
The important assistance from TCBF goes to low- and moderate-income families to cover basic needs, including hospital vouchers, mortgages, utilities, car payments and hotel accommodations, as well as educational support programs while their children are undergoing cancer treatment.
For more than a decade, the unbridled determination and courage of Katz and her organization have inspired the community to take action against cancer and helped pave the way to a road of recovery for hundreds of children battling this deadly disease. In 2014, TBCF assisted 150 tricounty families who were grappling with the emotional and financial burden of a cancer diagnosis for a child.
Laura DeBrum, who shared in a touching Family Testimonial, said the road to recovery has been challenging for her 11-year-old daughter, Faith, who was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma on Jan. 27.
The unimaginable happened for the Santa Maria family when Faith told her parents that she felt a lump on her collarbone, only three weeks after her grandfather had died of cancer. She was diagnosed with cancer.
“Faith was aware of the sickness of cancer by then but the most important thing we had to relate to her was that her grandpa’s cancer was incurable and that hers will be curable,” said DeBrum, who smiled tenderly down at her daughter as she spoke with Noozhawk.
“When we went to the hospital to meet with the doctors, the folks at Teddy Bear were there to support us. They have just been so comforting and so involved with Faith’s treatment that it put her at ease knowing that she was going to be OK.”
Faith, who is an active child by nature, said that she enjoys, dancing, gymnastics, volleyball and swimming — all of which she had to put on hold during chemotherapy treatments.
“It’s hard sometimes because I get so tired,” she said.
But the feisty and courageous youth went on to say that she keeps her spirits up by attending church with her parents and spending time with her friend, Lexi, who is also a cancer survivor.
“I felt a little scared when I first found out that I was sick but I started meeting new people like me who support me,” she said. “I knew that God would watch over me.”
Faith has been home-schooled while undergoing three rounds of treatment. But with only one more treatment ahead, she’s looking forward to the future and returning to school.
“I want to be a teacher when I grow up and teach fourth-graders, and I want to have a family,” she said.
The DeBrums graciously acknowledged the support of TCBF and the treatment that Faith has received at Cottage Children’s Hospital under the care of Dr. Daniel Greenfield.
During the Moment in Time presentation, Faith, a fan of country and Christian music, was presented with a fitting surprise of four tickets to attend a live taping of the The Voice on May 12 in Los Angeles, followed by the sold-out season finale ofAmerican Idol the next day.
In addition to financial assistance, TCBF provides licensed, bilingual social workers to facilitate family support groups in Santa Barbara, and educational services are available for families to help address their children’s cognitive learning problems, which is a common side effect associated with chemotherapy.
The organization also partners with health-care organizations, providing emotional support programs and discussion groups for parents and arts-and-crafts activities for children with cancer and their siblings.
In times of crisis, TBCF Bereavement Support Groups offer licensed therapists to assist parents and family members in taking the critical steps necessary to begin healing during the grieving process.
On June 3, the Little Heroes Breakfast will offer an inspirational program and breakfast at Montecito County Club with keynote speaker Melinda Marchiaon, a former TBCF recipient and nationally recognized pediatric cancer awareness advocate.
Click here for more information about the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, or call 805.962.7466. Click here to make an online donation. Connect with the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation on Facebook. Follow Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation on Twitter:@TBCF4Kids.
Country and Christian music fan Faith DeBrum was presented with a gift of four tickets to attend a live taping of The Voice in Los Angeles on May 12, followed by the sold-out season finale of American Idol the next day.
Clockwise from back left, TCBF Moments in Time event volunteers, Mary White, Holly Toledo, Natalie Graves, Julia Moorhouse, Aide Flores, Natalie Robinson, Marissa Wilson, Brenda Cali, Wendy Wu and Olivia Alvarado.