What started out as a simple dream, has blossomed into a beautiful reality. Seven years ago we envisioned a way of providing direct support to the future generation of this world affected by pediatric cancer. Words cannot begin to elaborate on the amount of respect, gratitude, and sincere appreciation we have for each and every one of you. As we come together tonight, united as one, we hope for nothing more than to all hold hands, to walk together, and to find a cure for childhood cancer.
We thank all of you for joining us on this special evening to celebrate the courage, strength, and beauty of our young warriors battling this insidious disease. As we have come to realize over the past five years, nothing is more inspiring than being around the unwavering spirits of these children. We sincerely hope that you will also be touched by their indescribable magic, just as we have been.
This year marks the beginning of Runway to Hope’s eighth year. What has grown from 30 children walking the runway in our inaugural year in 2010, to over 160 children this year modeling on the runway, the need to help these children and their families remains great. Only a small fraction of cancer research and funding is directed towards pediatric cancer. Hence, private contributions are essential and necessary. We can only hope that one day, prayers are answered and that pediatric cancer is eliminated. Today, unfortunately, is not that day, as this fight continues.
Runway to Hope has raised approximately $6 million. Pledges exceeding $1 million have been made to each of Central Florida’s children's hospitals; Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Florida Hospital for Children, and Nemours Children’s Hospital. Runway to Hope has insisted that each of the hospitals utilize the funds to create new and unique programs, treatments and care that were otherwise absent or underserved in the Central Florida region.
Runway to Hope also endows a Family Assistance Program, which directly ministers aid to not only the children diagnosed with cancer, but to their courageous and valiant families as well. Often one parent has to quit work to care for the child, other children’s needs are unfortunately deferred and a family’s finances are dramatically drained by mounting expenses and the loss of income. Bills and medical costs mount quickly leading to stress that can overwhelm the parents and children alike. With our Family Assistance Program, we cut through the bureaucracy and red tape in order to provide the families immediate help from anything to food for them, automobile assistance, mortgage/rent payments, necessities for the home and emergency transportation out of state.
No parent should ever have to hear their child ask, “When I die, what will heaven look like?” We hear such things too often and strive daily so that such questions will someday be asked no more. Although the dollars raised may seem high, it is simply not enough as so many more millions are needed. Starting this charity had been a dream fulfilled. Runway to Hope not only touched our lives, but also the lives our daughters, Valentina and Alessandra. We are so proud of the philanthropists they have become at such a young age. “To those who much is given, much is expected” is our family’s mantra and one which is being passed down. We remain motivated by the triumphant stories of most of the kids, but conversely deeply saddened by the tragic losses of others who have lost their valiant struggle.
Thank you for being a part of this special evening as we celebrate these amazing kids and as we join together to hold hands, walk together and end childhood cancer.
Runway to Hope, Co-Founders
Runway to Hope / 7411 International Drive / Orlando, Florida 32819 / 407.802.1544