Since a year after its founding in 1983, The Children’s Cancer Foundation, Inc. has held an annual gala, celebrating locally-funded researchers and brave young survivors. When the pandemic hit this year, CCF staff and Board of Directors were faced with a choice: cancel the first gala in 36 years, or find another way to come together in our new reality.
CCF President Tasha Museles came to the conclusion that “cancer does not stop during a pandemic. Neither can we.” CCF explored the route that other non-profits were pursuing – the “ungala” or virtual gala – presenting online content that includes not just remarks, but more importantly, stories of hope and survival.
Organizing an online Gala, in lieu of an in-person event, had its obvious disadvantages, most notably, not being together in person. CCF knew it would require a great deal of planning and safe interactions to bring such a production together. “We were thrilled, but not surprised, by the level of enthusiasm and commitment we’ve received from so many – from local families, businesses, foundations, hospitals, our amazing Emcee and generous donors,” Museles continued.
CCF visited the backyards of cancer families to capture their journeys, recorded video calls with researchers, and more recently, awardees and a mother who lost her son to pediatric cancer traveled to a makeshift studio to record their remarks. Those cancer fighters that couldn’t risk contact sent CCF heartfelt videos from their home. One young survivor, Noah, 11, a talented drummer, brought his band – Noah and the Rainmakers, to the studio to perform.
Local sports teams also ‘kicked-in’ by donating items for the gala’s online auction including the Caps’ Alex Ovechkin, whose Ovi O’s cereal benefitted CCF, donated a signed jersey, and the Ravens donated a Mark Ingram, Jr. signed football.
In addition to presenting proceeds of its Childhood Cancer Fundraising Campaign from September in the amount of $615,000, Giant Food also donated over $10,000 in gift cards for their stores.
Other companies and hospitals that have supported the CCF Gala are Force 3, General Mills, Johns Hopkins Division of Pediatric Oncology, M&T Bank, Maryland Proton Treatment Center and University of Maryland, Department of Radiation Oncology as partner sponsors, UTZ Snacks, and Weis Markets. Other supporters are listed here.
The Virtual Gala will premiere on November 12th, at 7p.m. EST at ccf.afrogs.org.
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