Lantana resident Sadie Keller, 9, is a featured model and artist at The Children’s Cancer Fund Annual Gala in Dallas, the nonprofit’s 29th annual fundraiser for pediatric oncology research and treatment programs.
The Gala features live and silent auctions, a children’s fashion show, dinner, drinks and dancing to musical entertainment by DJ Lucy Wrubel. It will be held this Friday, April 21, at 6 p.m. at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, 2201 N. Stemmons Freeway.
A fashion show presented by Dillard’s and produced by RSC Show Productions will feature children who are undergoing treatment for cancer at Children’s Health in Dallas. The children, “models” for the fashion show, are escorted down the runway by Honorary Event Chairmen Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, along with other celebrities and sponsors. Gala event Chair Pamela Moayedi, will kick off the program with Aikman and Staubach, who will turn it over to CBS 11 News Anchor Karen Borta, mistress of ceremonies.
Proceeds from the Gala, slated to raise more than $1 million, 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 almost $8 million to the cause. The Children’s Cancer Fund spring event is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser for pediatric cancer, hosting over 1,000 guests from North Texas and across the nation.
Diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of 7, Keller is a fourth grader at Blanton Elementary School in Lantana.
Treatment for this type of cancer lasts 2 ½ years, and Keller was first diagnosed on February 25, 2015, and spent a month in the hospital. Three months after her diagnosis she began making videos for other children to help them understand what to expect on their cancer journeys, and in just two years, she has made a tremendous impact in the lives of children diagnosed with cancer.
“Sadie almost immediately put herself into the position of advocate for other children,” said Sarah Keller, her mom. “Without our knowing, she would go into my closet and record videos talking to other children, telling them what to expect, what happens when they get a port, and how things will get easier with time.”
This soon turned into newspaper articles and television news stories, and in September 2015, Keller was asked to speak at Golden Toast, the kickoff for the Childhood Cancer Caucus in Washington, D.C. Representative Michael McCaul, co-chair of the caucus, met Keller that day and was impressed.
This past March, Keller was invited to return to D.C. for a lobby day. She spent the day with Rep. McCaul and shared her personal story and her message that more federal funding is needed to fight childhood cancer. Currently only 4 percent of the annual budget of the taxpayer-funded National Cancer Institute is dedicated to childhood cancer.
Keller has lent her time and her voice to numerous organizations throughout her battle with cancer, including The Truth 365 and CureFest for childhood cancer.
In addition to lobbying for more funding in D.C., Keller has her own foundation and has collected thousands of new toys for children in the hospital the last two Christmases for a program she named Sadie’s Sleigh. She distributed over 4,600 toys to children in both Children’s Health and Cook Children’s hospitals last Christmas. Her newest effort is focused on giving children milestone gifts, celebrating key moments in their cancer journeys and reminding them to keep on fighting.
As a 2017 model and artist in the 29th Annual Children’s Cancer Fund Gala, Keller continues her work as an advocate for other children, helping Children’s Cancer Fund raise money for pediatric oncology research and treatment programs.
“I love working with Children’s Cancer Fund because they are awesome and so fun!” said Keller. “I also love it because of how they give back to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, where I get my treatment. I also give toys and milestone gifts to Children’s in Dallas through my foundation, the Sadie Keller Foundation, so it’s like we are working together to make other children fighting cancer, like me, feel better. I can’t wait to be a model at the gala and help raise money to end childhood cancer.”
“Sadie’s efforts are very impressive, and we are honored to have such an outstanding young advocate for other children battling cancer as the featured child on this year’s Gala invitation,” said Jennifer Arthur, executive director, Children’s Cancer Fund. “We hope the Gala will be a fun and exciting evening for her to enjoy!”
Keller is very creative, and she would like to be an artist when she grows up. When she is not busy advocating for childhood cancer causes, she spends her free time watching YouTube videos about crafts and drawing, and she also enjoys writing. She is happiest when she is with her family and not in the hospital, and her heroes are her parents and her brother because they have always been there for her. If she could go anywhere, she would go to Australia because she loves the fact that Australia is home many animals and has a beautiful beach.
Children’s Cancer Fund brings together local celebrities, dignitaries, philanthropists, sponsors, and media personalities to serve as runway escorts for these young patients modeling in the fashion show. Honorary Event Chairs Aikman and Staubach have been involved for many years: Aikman for 20 and Staubach since the event’s inception 29 years ago. Additional celebrity escorts include current Dallas Cowboys players, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Station #19 Dallas Fire Dept., Dallas SWAT, Julie Dobbs-Fox Sports Southwest Dallas Stars Commentator, Alisha Laventure-WFAA, Jane McGarry-WFAA, Scott Murray, Mrs. Texas America Sissy Hester, the Pink Heals Firefighters, and Amy Vanderoef.
“When I was diagnosed with a tumor in 2009 at UT Southwestern, I was terrified about what would happen next. Thankfully my tumor was benign, but my fear was real,” said Gala Chair Pamela Moayedi. “My experience has made me so much more passionate about helping children in that kind of situation. I’m committed to supporting local research that saves lives, especially young kids.”
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/Gala for reservations and more information.
The finale of the show each year is a special time for all the children, both those currently battling cancer and young cancer survivors. As they join together on stage, they will be introduced by the evening’s special entertainment, DJ Lucy Wrubel.
“You have to see the look on these kids’ faces as they walk down the runway. It’s what inspires us in our work and in everything we do,” said Jennifer Arthur, CCF Executive Director of Development. “They are fighters and survivors every day, but on that night, they’re stars and they’re shining brightly for their families, for the audience, and for each other.”