HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Local pediatric cancer fighters took to the runway for a fun cause. They got to team-up with local business leaders and celebrities to help their future healthcare that will take place decades from now.
"Celebration of Champions" for Texas Children's Cancer Center began by local celebs and cancer patients lighting a torch on center stage. It's been said that a torch symbolizes the eternal flame of the human spirit. Young patients Carter and Maddie helped light the torch, along with Olympic Champ Mary Lou Retton and Baseball Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell. He was part of the first event ten years ago! "What a privilege to be here with the kids and their families, for what they have to go through in life. It's nothing you wish on anybody and to see them smile with hope - through a tough time in life," says Bagwell. It was powerful!
It was also symbolic that former Olympic Champ Mary Lou Retton helped light the torch, but she's not so sure about that title. "Champion - that word is thrown around a lot, sports champion, Olympic champion, these kids are champions, they champion life everyday," says Retton.
The young champs sure had fun "struttin' their stuff". Oncologist ZoAnn Dreyer was front row, cheering them on. "It gives them so much power and strength. It empowers them, so that they see they can be the star and the star in a good way, not in the way, of oh my gosh, your child has cancer, but the star because that's who they are," she exclaims.
We met up with the four community leaders, who came up with the idea to start Celebration of Champions a decade ago. Sidney Faust, Judy McGee, Scott Basinger, and Elsie Eckert had a feeling this event would help empower patients, touch lives, and make a difference for the patients' future at TCH. They were right! "It's raising money this year for our long-term survivor's program, which is a huge part of what we do! Once we get the kids through cancer therapy, we want to keep them safe and well as they grow up. The survivor's program allows us to do that. We have cancer survivors who are 50 years old with four kids, who show and check in at TCH," says Dr. Dreyer.
Model-for-a day 10-year-old Kimora is undergoing treatment for leukemia. "At the hospital, there are plenty of volunteers coming up every day, and when something like this (fashion show) happens, it makes me so happy. It makes me happy because some kids don't get to do this. How I get to do this is just amazing," Kimora smiles. She also enjoyed getting her first make-over for the fashion show. The crowd went wild when she got on stage.
Nine-year-old Carter was also excited about walking the runway. He's thrilled to have completed cancer treatment. "It was pretty hard because they would stick me with needles ands stuff, but if you really try, you can get through it," says Carter. He did, including taking the runway by storm.
It was powerful to witness the cancer fighters and local leaders walking the runway to songs like "We Are the Champions". That, they all are.
For more information about TCH, http://txch.org/about/