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Flower Mound child to be featured at cancer fundraising gala

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Roger Staubach, Kamryn Rakestraw, and Troy Aikman
Roger Staubach, Kamryn Rakestraw, and Troy Aikman

Kamryn Rakestraw, 5, was selected as a 2016 featured calendar artist and runway model at The 28th Annual Children’s Cancer Fund Gala, “An Evening in Oz,” a fundraiser for pediatric oncology research and treatment programs.

Diagnosed with Neuroblastoma at age 1, Rakestraw is in pre-kindergarten at Trietsch Preschool in Flower Mound and has three sisters.  She wants to be a dancer when she grows up and loves coloring, playing with Play-Doh at school and riding her bike.

God is her hero, because he took the cancer away from her. Her favorite song is “Best Friends Forever” from The Lego Movie, and if she could visit anywhere in the world, she would go to Mexico to ride on a water slide.

Previously a luncheon event, the evening 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.

“I am excited to wear pretty clothes at the fashion show,” said Rakestraw.

Event Chairs Aikman and Staubach have been involved for many years: Aikman for 19-years 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.

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 News Anchor Clarice Tinsley and Scott Murray, Mistress and Master of Ceremonies.

“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 Barker. “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.”

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.

“As the mother of a cancer survivor, I understand the importance of this type of experience,” said Barker. “This evening will bring children living with cancer together for an unforgettable, embracing, and heartwarming experience.”

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.

Children’s Cancer Fund has created a special 2016 Calendar for the Gala, featuring the artwork of 12 children modeling in the show.

The gala features an auction, program, dinner and dancing with musical entertainment this year by Emerald City Band, Friday, Apr. 22, at the Hilton Anatole Hotel,  2201 N. Stemmons Fwy., in Dallas. The champagne reception begins at 6 p.m., with the dinner and program at 7:15 p.m.

“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 Cooley. “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 per person, 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 4×4, donated by the Clay Cooley Automotive Group and tricked-out by NTX Auto Masters and Epic 4×4 Offroad; total value over $60,000.

About Children’s Cancer Fund

Children’s Cancer Fund (CCF) 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.

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 brings together local celebrities, dignitaries, sponsors, and media personalities to serve as runway escorts for these young patients modeling in the fashion 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.

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, CCF 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.

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