New nonprofit raises $170K to help sick kids
By Heather Ann White (Contact)
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Heather Ann White/Caller-Times The Ready or Not Foundation: Jackie Black's Search to End Brain Cancer billboard displayed on Interstate 37 pictures Jackie, who has brain cancer.
Heather Ann White/Caller-Times
The Ready or Not Foundation: Jackie Black's Search to End Brain Cancer billboard displayed on Interstate 37 pictures Jackie, who has brain cancer.
Canales created the organization in her daughter's name.
CORPUS CHRISTI — Just like her daughter, Barbara Canales has covered a lot of ground in little time.
Canales, inspired by her 8-year-old daughter Jackie Black, started a pediatric brain cancer organization in May -- the Ready or Not Foundation: Jackie Black's Search to End Brain Cancer. The charity has collected $170,000 in two months by raising money in Corpus Christi, Houston and the Rio Grande Valley.
"It has been an amazing two months," Canales said.
The organization has pledged to raise $500,000 in its first three years. If the group meets its goal, the Texas Children's Cancer Center in Houston will match the funds.
The organization gives all of its donations to the Texas Children's Cancer Center, one of the largest pediatric cancer centers in the U.S., for research on high-grade pediatric brain cancers and immunotherapy.
Jackie was diagnosed with a Grade III anaplastic astrocytoma, a star-shaped malignant tumor in the brain tissue, when she was 6. The Incarnate Word Academy student, who had shown no symptoms, was taken to the hospital after playing hide-and-seek with friends and bumping her head on a tree. Doctors found the tumor during an MRI. She later went through radiation, chemotherapy and two craniectomies -- a procedure in which part of the cranium or skull is removed. Ninety-nine percent of the tumor was removed.
This month, she will have her quarterly MRI to check for returning cancer. She also will have another operation to correct double vision that she has incurred as a side effect of previous surgeries. Despite those obstacles, Jackie's the playful, outgoing girl she always has been.
"Jackie's doing great," her mother said. "Her favorite game is still hide and seek. She's my littlest warrior. She's amazing."
Brain cancer is the most common cancer among children, recently outpacing leukemia, according to the American Cancer Society. About 3,200 central nervous system tumors are diagnosed a year in children younger than 20 in the U.S., and 50 percent of patients with childhood brain tumors survive longer than five years following treatment.
"You know, Jackie's brother asked with Jackie in earshot, 'Do we have to keep going to the doctor in Houston? Can cancer come back?' And I was too afraid to lie," Canales said. "Yes, it can come back. It has a high chance of coming back, and she heard that. She hasn't cried in a long time, but she did when she heard that. That's what our family lives with. But we're not in this just to get Jackie better. We're in this to help other children who haven't been as fortunate as Jackie."
The group, which includes about 50 members and volunteers, also has raised an additional $50,000 to underwrite administrative costs, Canales said.
"This is really unique in the charity world," she said. "The cost of business always cuts into donations. I wanted to promise everybody that 100 percent of their donation would go to pediatric research."
The organization has collected funds through fashion shows, dinners, luncheons and the mail.
Canales also has solicited the help of a California-based jewelry maker who has designed earrings for the organization. They can be found at Corpus Christi's Goosefeathers boutique on Alameda Street.
"They're gorgeous," Canales said. "They're our colors -- green and white -- and we receive 25 percent of the proceeds."
The earrings, at $168, are made by Stephanie Wells, who has designed earrings for Oprah Winfrey, Canales said.
Canales is hoping to start a national movement with the organization, she said, and get celebrities involved. She is attending a meeting in Hollywood this month to share her ideas.
"Right now there is no national movement -- no force to be reckoned with like (the breast cancer awareness program) Go Pink," she said. "There are all these awesome people that are doing awesome things in the community but I want to spark something that can run across all 50 states."
Canales has started a merchandise line that includes high-quality clothing. The apparel and other items are available at fundraising events and soon will be offered online at the organization's Web site, which should be operational in two weeks, Canales said. The Web site, which has only an e-mail address, has received hundreds of hits. As a result, Canales has received hundreds of e-mails, letters and donations channeled through the site. The support mainly comes from families who are going through similar situations.
"It's people reaching out. They've had a son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, father who have had cancer -- a brain tumor," she said. "Our job is to remind everybody this is about children. Tag, you're it. There is a child out there hearing a terrible prognosis and you're the one who can help."
Contact Heather Ann White at 886-3794 or email@example.com
Ready or Not Foundation: Jackie Blacks Search to End Brain Cancer
What: Ready or Not Foundation Luncheon, 100 Reasons to Give: 100 Women Ready To Make A Difference
When: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 24
Where: V Boutique Hotel, 701 N. Water St. on the second floor
Information: www.readyornotfoundation.org; Matt Stevens 779-0338 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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