You know what's awesome? Kids. You know what's not awesome? Cancer. And, sadly, sometimes cancer happens to kids. I had a childhood friend who didn't survive his battle with the big C, and I think that hurt even more than losing my grandfather to it. No one should have to endure such a horrible disease, but especially not children. There are some great resources out there for the families who are fighting for their children's lives. St. Jude's, for example, exists "to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family's ability to pay."
"Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to more than 80 percent since it opened in 1962."
However, there's more to it than just providing treatment. Over 40% of the children diagnosed with cancer are more than 60 miles from their closest treatment center. Some are forced to travel much farther to receive the specialized care required to save their lives. Even with organizations like St. Jude's available to families unable to shoulder the burden of cost, there has been little assistance given to help reduce the cost of travel often necessary.
In 2010 Michelle Ernsdorff started Compass to Care, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, to ensure all families can access life-saving cancer treatment for their children. Michelle was stricken with kidney cancer at just one year old, and her parents traveled over 200 miles from their hometown of Dubuque, Iowa to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for two years until her cancer went into remission.
"In the four years since its inception, Compass to Care has made similar journeys possible for 112 children!"
For the last two years, Compass to Care has put on a fashion show to raise much-needed money to continue expanding. I was honored to provide photography for last year's event, and I was thrilled to be asked back again this year. HGTV Design Star Kevin Grace, who recently went to work on the Steve Harvey Show, signed on to emcee. Past shows have featured police officers as models. This year cancer survivors took to the runway, escorted by police officers. There was even a special appearance by the Guest of Honor, Compass to Care recipient Lillian.
The goal was to top last year's take of $18,000 and push for $25,000. Would you believe that the attendees' generosity kept pouring in, and an astonishing $85,000 was raised in one night?!? Today's Chicago Woman Magazine will be featuring the soiree in its next issue. I couldn't be more proud to be part of such an amazing event!
As amazing as it sounds, that money will go quickly. Compass to Care needs your support to continue its mission. Please consider offering a donation of any amount to this organization. It really could make the difference to a child in need.
You can read more about the event here: