Women’s Board of children’s research center raises $1 million

From left, Maggie Norris, Terah Nassos, Whitney Heglie and Jennifer Holyoak. (Submitted photo)

From left, Maggie Norris, Terah Nassos, Whitney Heglie and Jennifer Holyoak. (Submitted photo)

There must have been magic in the room at PANDA’s 2015 ‘Children’s Helping Children’ Fashion Show and Luncheon as PANDA reached a record-breaking $1 million goal this year.

The excitement took place at the Phoenician Resort on Saturday, April 25.  Funds raised will support the PANDA Children’s Anti-Tumor Immunity Program at the Steele Children’s Research Center of the University of Arizona.

The Women’s Board of the Steele Children’s Research Center, People Acting Now Discover Answers, known affectionately as PANDA , has now raised over $6 million since their founding in 1999.

“It was nothing short of amazing, a truly inspirational and emotional day” stated Jennifer Karas of Phoenix, 2015 Event Chair for PANDA, in a press release.  “We were able to shine a bright light on the critical need for safe cancer treatments for our children and the power of medical research.”

Logan and Lauren Weiler (Submitted photo)

Logan and Lauren Weiler (Submitted photo)

This year’s event, themed “When You Wish Upon A Star,” exemplified the magic that happens when community members, donors, scientists and doctors come together to help children and their families find the critical answers they wish for.  PANDA co-founders Robyn DeBell and Penny Gunning honored the director of the Steele Children’s Research Center and the man responsible for finding most of those answers, Dr. Fayez Ghishan.

Dr. Ghishan, nicknamed their “Man of Steele,” was awarded for his 20 years of compassionate dedication to the children of the Steele Center and recognized for his nearly 50 years of ground-breaking contributions to medical research.

“As a physician researcher, compassionate husband, father and grandfather, Dr. Ghishan has strived to provide comfort and cures for families and children.  He is our superstar,” stated Robyn DeBell in the release.

Dr. Ghishan later emphasized that research is the key to finding safe and effective answers to the complexities of cancer, according to the release.  While only 10 percent of government funding for cancer research is allocated to pediatrics, children’s small, growing bodies often cannot handle the harsh cancer treatments developed for adults.

Dr. Ghishan’s unique “bench to bedside” approach to care for children and discover answers to some of their most stubborn illnesses has earned him great national praise and attention worldwide.  The Steele Children’s Research Center is in the top tier of children’s research centers in the country.

Stealing the show however, were the 58 children who bravely walked the catwalk to raise money for PANDA.  Wearing sunny styles from Splendid, Peek and The Garage, guests cheered them on as they swaggered through the crowd, according to the release.

Some of the models were patients at the Steele Center, while others were energized by the idea of helping other children.  Even from backstage, their enthusiasm and cheers could be heard as donations from the crowd came pouring in and PANDA reached their $1 million milestone.

For more information about the Steele Children’s Research Center and their new office in the Arcadia neighborhood of Phoenix, visit www.azpanda.org.

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