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Children's Cancer Fund Keamus Bryant with Mom Shantee, Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman

Rowlett resident Keamus Bryant, 11, is a featured calendar artist and runway model at The Children’s Cancer Fund Gala, “An Evening in Oz,” the nonprofit’s 28th annual fundraiser for pediatric oncology research and treatment programs.  The gala features an auction, program, dinner and dancing with musical entertainment by Emerald City Band, Friday, April 22, 2016, 6 p.m. (champagne reception), 7:15 (dinner and program), at the Hilton Anatole Hotel,  2201 N. Stemmons Freeway.  Previously a luncheon event, the gala continues with the traditional fashion show presented by Dillard’s and produced by RSC Show Productions, featuring children who are undergoing treatment for cancer at Children's Medical Center Dallas. The children, “models” for the fashion show, are escorted down the runway by Event Chairmen Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, along with many other celebrities and sponsors.  Gala event co-chairs Giora Barker and Lisa Cooley will kick off the program with Aikman and Staubach, who will turn it over to KDFW FOX 4 NewsAnchor Clarice Tinsley and Scott Murray, Mistress and Master of Ceremonies.

Proceeds from the Gala, slated to raise more than $750,000, go to Children’s Cancer Fund to support pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at Children's Medical Center. Since 1982, Children’s Cancer Fund has donated more than $7 million to the childhood cancer cause. The Children’s Cancer Fund spring event is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser for pediatric cancer.

Children’s Cancer Fund has created a special 2016 Calendar for the Gala, featuring the artwork of 12 children modeling in the show.   The calendar, $15 each, includes photos as well as original artwork by these young cancer patients. To purchase copies after the luncheon, please call Children’s Cancer Fund at 972-664-1450 or visit www.ChildrensCancerFund.com

Diagnosed with Metastatic Tectal Glioma, at age 9, Keamus Bryant, 11, is in the fifth grade at Couch Elementary school in Garland and has two sisters and three brothers. Math and science are his favorite school subjects, and he would like to be an FBI agent when he grows up. His hero is Super Boy because he is awesome and has incredible powers.  Bryant enjoys doing arts and crafts with his mom and playing with his friends. His favorite music group is New Edition. If he could visit anywhere in the world, he would go to Hawaii to see the hula girls.

“I am excited to show off my style and wear new clothes in the fashion show,” added Bryant.  “I know it will be lots of fun.”

Children’s Cancer Fund brings together local celebrities, dignitaries, sponsors, and media personalities to serve as runway escorts for these young patients modeling in the fashion show.  Event Chairs Aikman and Staubach have been involved for many years: Aikman for 19 and Staubach since the event’s inception 28 years ago.  Additional celebrity escorts include current Dallas Cowboys players, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Dallas SWAT, Drew Pearson, Kliff Kingsbury, Andy Dalton, Jane McGarry – WFAA, Jocelyn White, Amy Vanderoef, Miss Texas America, Sunny Malouf, and the Pink Heels Firefighters.

“Did you know 30 years ago, half of all children diagnosed with cancer would not survive? Today, the survival rate is up to 80 percent!” said Lisa Cooley, gala event co-chair. “Even though wonderful progress has been made in the fight against this horrible disease, cancer still remains the number one disease-related killer of children in the U.S., taking over 250 lives worldwide every day. Despite these heartbreaking numbers, all pediatric cancers combined receive less than 4 percent of federal funding for cancer research. This is why you need to join us at this year’s gala.  Together we can make a difference.”

Individual tickets are $300 or $2,750 for a table of 10.  Contact Children’s Cancer Fund at 972-664-1450 or visit www.ChildrensCancerFund.com for reservations and more information.  This year raffle tickets for $100 (or 6 for $500) will be sold in advance of and at the event for a chance to receive a 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport 4x4 donated by the Clay Cooley Automotive Group and tricked out by NTX Auto Masters and Epic 4x4 Offroad.  Total value over $60,000.

The finale of the show each year is a special time for all the children, both those currently battling cancer and the survivors.  As they will join together on stage, they will be introduced by the evening’s special entertainment, the Emerald City Band. 

“In addition to raising awareness and funds for children’s cancer research, this event serves as a positive social-psychological experience for children undergoing cancer treatment,” added Giora Barker, gala co-chair. “These kids have been through so much, and this is a day away from hospitals and treatments.  They have a ball backstage and then they each have their moment in the spotlight as they are escorted down the runway and model their new fashions, which they have selected themselves and get to keep, donated by Dillard’s.  As the mother of a cancer survivor, I understand the importance of this type of experience. This evening will bring children living with cancer together for an unforgettable, embracing, and heartwarming experience.”

Children’s Cancer Fund was founded 33 years ago by a coalition of parents whose children were receiving cancer therapy at Children’s Medical Center.  The organizers have since been joined by community leaders, dedicated volunteers, and health professionals in their fundraising efforts.  CCF is one of the nation’s leading fundraising groups in supporting local research toward treatment and prevention of childhood cancers.  Among the programs supported by Children’s Cancer Fund are the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Program at Children's Medical Center and the Children's Cancer Fund Comprehensive Center for Research in Pediatric Oncology and Hematology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, which is gaining a national reputation for its work in eradicating childhood cancer.  In 2002, Children’s Cancer Fund initiated funding for a full-time Child Life Assistant at Children’s Medical Center’s Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders to assist the outpatient team.  The primary goal of the Child Life Assistant is to make each of the 80-90 daily outpatients’ visits a more positive experience.  This position is funded annually by CCF, helping to ease the emotional strain of ongoing treatments, some lasting several years.

For more information, please call Children’s Cancer Fund at 972-664-1450 or visit www.ChildrensCancerFund.com.