Kids Kicking Cancer

Children's Cancer Fund breaks records in Dallas at magical garden gala

Children's Cancer Fund breaks records in Dallas at magical garden gala

Eli Patterson, 5, Dallas: Josh Abbott
5-year-old Eli Patterson and country singer Josh Abbott. Photo by Kristina Bowman
Roger Staubach, Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, Jennifer Arthur, Troy Aikman
Roger Staubach, Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, Jennifer Arthur, Troy Aikman Photo by Kristina Bowman
Courtney Sinelli, Jessica Nowitzki
Courtney Sinelli, Jessica Nowitzki Photo by Kristina Bowman
Francisco Rizo, Jenna Owens, Bina Palnitkar Patel, Nimesh Patel
Francisco Rizo, Jenna Owens, Bina Palnitkar Patel, Nimesh Patel Photo by Kristina Bowman
Melbourne O’Banion, Jamie O’Banion
Melbourne O’Banion, Jamie O’Banion Photo by Kristina Bowman
Diweni Jituboh, 17, Wylie: Jimmy Maurer, FC Dallas Soccer player
17-year-old Diweni Jituboh and FC Dallas Soccer player Jimmy Maurer. Photo by Kristina Bowman
Ashley Romo, Jerad Romo
Ashley Romo, Jerad Romo Photo by Kristina Bowman
Chase Cooley, Bela Cooley
Chase Cooley, Bela Cooley Photo by Kristina Bowman
Katherine Thomson, 14, of Burleson: Melissa Brown, actress and stunt artist
Stunt artist Melissa Brown and 14-year-old Katherine Thomson. Photo by Kristina Bowman
Grace Byrd, 5, Rockwall: Nycole Ray, Dallas Black Dance Theater (left) and Avery Jai, Founder & Artistic Director of Don't Ask Why (right)
Dallas Black Dance Theater's Nycole Ray, 5-year-old Grace Byrd, and Avery Jai, founder and artistic director of Don't Ask Why. Photo by Kristina Bowman
Collin Craig, Tina Craig
Collin Craig, Tina Craig Photo by Kristina Bowman
Marty Turco, JR Whitman
Marty Turco, JR Whitman Photo by Kristina Bowman
Myrna Schlegel, Moll Anderson
Myrna Schlegel, Moll Anderson Photo by Kristina Bowman
Antoine Wilkerson, 5, of Pittsburg: Batman
5-year-old Antoine Wilkerson and Batman. Photo by Kristina Bowman
Sha'Khia Johnson, 8, Mesquite: Erin Cummings, actress, from LA
Actress Erin Cumming and 8-year-old Sha'Khia Johnson. Photo by Kristina Bowman
Hollie Siglin, Candice Romo, Binish Karimi
Hollie Siglin, Candice Romo, Binish Karimi Photo by Kristina Bowman
D’Nard Arthur, Jennifer Arthur, Roger Staubach, Marianne Staubach, Chris Duddy, Joely Fisher, Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, Justin Whitman, Capa Aikman, Troy Aikman
D’Nard Arthur, Jennifer Arthur, Roger Staubach, Marianne Staubach, Chris Duddy, Joely Fisher, Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, Justin Whitman, Capa Aikman, Troy Aikman Photo by Kristina Bowman
Eli Patterson, 5, Dallas: Josh Abbott
Roger Staubach, Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, Jennifer Arthur, Troy Aikman
Courtney Sinelli, Jessica Nowitzki
Francisco Rizo, Jenna Owens, Bina Palnitkar Patel, Nimesh Patel
Melbourne O’Banion, Jamie O’Banion
Diweni Jituboh, 17, Wylie: Jimmy Maurer, FC Dallas Soccer player
Ashley Romo, Jerad Romo
Chase Cooley, Bela Cooley
Katherine Thomson, 14, of Burleson: Melissa Brown, actress and stunt artist
Grace Byrd, 5, Rockwall: Nycole Ray, Dallas Black Dance Theater (left) and Avery Jai, Founder & Artistic Director of Don't Ask Why (right)
Collin Craig, Tina Craig
Marty Turco, JR Whitman
Myrna Schlegel, Moll Anderson
Antoine Wilkerson, 5, of Pittsburg: Batman
Sha'Khia Johnson, 8, Mesquite: Erin Cummings, actress, from LA
Hollie Siglin, Candice Romo, Binish Karimi
D’Nard Arthur, Jennifer Arthur, Roger Staubach, Marianne Staubach, Chris Duddy, Joely Fisher, Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, Justin Whitman, Capa Aikman, Troy Aikman

Hope grows, especially in a magical garden planted by the Children's Cancer Fund. The group that supports pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at Children's Health and UT Southwestern recently hosted its most successful fundraising gala to date, bringing in $1.4 million and surpassing fundraising goals for the third year in a row.

More than 1,000 guests were transported to an enchanted garden within the Hilton Anatole, designed by Gro Events and Design and coordinated by gala chair Kimberly Schlegel Whitman. Attendees mingled before the dinner and bid on the many silent auction items, with hot-ticket pieces including designer handbags, exclusive vacations, luxury art, dining packages, and autographed memorabilia from actor Matthew McConaughey. A Kendra Scott jewelry pull proved especially popular, as did the mystery gift card tree and wine pull.

The live auction later in the evening raised even more money, thanks to a CCF custom Harley Davidson, tickets to a taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, dream vacation getaways, and the chance to fly with the Dallas Cowboys on their private charter to an away game.

Dallas sports stars were well represented, with longtime honorary co-chairs and Cowboys legends Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman joining Tony Romo, the Dallas Stars' Marty Turco, basketball stars Michael Finley and Monta Ellis, and FC Dallas' Jimmy Maurer in the fight against pediatric cancer. Dak Prescott was unable to attend but sent a video tribute, as did celebrity personality Vanessa Lachey.

But the major personalities didn't stop there. A beloved part of CCF's annual gala is the fashion show, which pairs 25 young survivors with their idol escorts. Outfitted by Dillard's, the kids walked the runway with everyone from Batman and Queen Elsa to country star Josh Abbott, actress Joely Fisher, and members of Dallas SWAT, Dallas Fire Station 19, and Pink Heals Firefighters.

The work of Children's Dr. Patrick Leavey was highlighted for the Call for the Cure, and a record-breaking $339,350 for further research using artificial intelligence.

Emcee Karen Borta of CBS 11 kept the evening on track, while Scott Murray updated the crowd on the backstage antics, where the young honorees were enjoying clowns, magicians, and fun and autographs with celebrities while primping for the show with makeup, nails, and hairstyles by longtime Children’s Cancer Fund supporter Salon Pompeo.

Spotted in the audience were Capa Aikman, Candice Romo, Jessica Nowitzki, Moll Anderson, Millie and Ken Cooper, Bela and Chase Cooley, Brent Christopher, Tiffany and Tyler Clutts, Tina and Collin Craig, Holly Davis, Meredith Land-Moore, Alexander Moore, Jamie and Melbourne O’Banion, Bina Palnitkar Patel, Nimesh Patel, Nancy Rogers, Myrna and Robert Schlegel, Marianne Staubach, Hillery and Michael Stack, and Kacy and Carter Tolleson.

Founded in 1982, Children's Cancer Fund champions kids in their fight against cancer through strategic investments in research and care in North Texas. Since its inception, CCF has awarded almost $10 million in grants. The group seeks to partially relieve the burden of obtaining and administering funds for pediatric cancer research and treatment at Children’s Health and for selected research at UT Southwestern Medical Center, both nationally recognized programs for the investigation and treatment of childhood cancer.