Energy, enthusiasm and star power electrified the 2023 Children’s Cancer Fund “Light It Up” Gala, presented by Flexport, on Friday, April 21, at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas.
Honorary Chairs Troy Aikman and Dak Prescott teamed up with Flexport CEO Dave Clark alongside pediatric cancer patients, survivors, and their families, for a night of fashion, a live auction and dinner and dancing. The evening and its generous donors raised more than $2 million to support pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at Children’s Health and UT Southwestern. Heather Randall and Blake Stephenson chaired the gala.
The 2023 Children’s Cancer Fund “Light It Up” Gala started with a VIP reception and silent auction, followed by dinner and an inspirational fashion show that featured pediatric cancer patients modeling their bravery and fashions provided by Dillard’s. Reigning Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, Dak Prescott, made his debut as honorary co-chair alongside Troy Aikman, who has been involved with Children’s Cancer Fund for 24 years. NFL running back Ezekiel Elliott joined former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, fashion icons Nicky and Kathy Hilton, alice + olivia founder and CEO Stacey Bendet, Dude Perfect’s Tyler Toney, and other celebrities as runway escorts for 21 pediatric cancer patients, ages 5-17. Guest video appearances by Actor Jennifer Garner, Singer songwriter Katy Perry, American Professional Golfer Jordan Spieth, American Media Personality Paris Hilton, Cast of Netflix series, “The Chosen”, Actor Ashley Parks.
“I don’t know bigger heroes in the world than kids going through something tough! I wish I could be there to applaud all of you and cheer for you because you deserve it.” said Jennifer Garner
“A big shoutout to Landrie… you are incredible, you are so powerful, awesome and a firework! Enjoy your time on stage. Sending so much love to everyone there.
“Every year this is the best event I take part in, because of the kids,” said Aikman. “These kids, they are the real heroes, and it’s wonderful to celebrate them. It’s always a special night to see them and let them shine.” said Katy Perry
Aikman and Prescott continue the “Quarterbacks for a Cure” legacy established by Cowboys Legend Roger Staubach in representing Children’s Cancer Fund. Staubach served as a Children’s Cancer Fund Gala chair from the fundraiser’s inception until last year.
“When Troy called me to serve as Honorary Co-Chair, I immediately said yes,” said Prescott. “I know personally how cancer can affect a family. This battle against pediatric cancer, it’s not a game, it is a fight. We can put the spotlight on these kids, admire their spirit, and together we can dream of ending pediatric cancer forever. This is a fight we must win, we will win…our children are everything.”
“Children’s Cancer Fund is a source of hope and inspiration for the kids and their families going through very difficult times,” said Flexport CEO Dave Clark during his opening remarks at the gala. “We know there is still a big battle ahead in the fight against childhood cancer, but I hope every parent and family member feels the reminder that you do not face these challenging days alone. We are all here to support you.”
The children who walked the runway on gala night included: 9-year-old A’Zyriah Brown of Mesquite; 7-year-old Addalynn Lovett of Caddo Mills; 10-year-old Aiden Norris of Frisco; 5-year-old Alina Rojas of Grand Prairie; 16-year-old Amari Lemon of Carrollton; 11-year-old Avery Reyes of Carthage; 10-year-old Burson Marable of Dallas; 8-year-old Drew Lowsley of Murphy; 5-year-old Emma Lee of Rockwall; 10-year-old Hannah Bisharah of McKinney; 15-year-old Jaxon Starling of Frisco; 8-year-old Landrie Lay of Quinlan; 10-year-old Leanna Burnside of Carrollton; 8-year-old Miles Dagelewicz of Plano; 15-year-old Monique Hardin of Dallas; 15-year-old Peyton Scraver of Gladewater; 10-year-old Ricardo Guerra of Plano; 9-year-old River Bray of Plano; 17-year-old Robert Rodriguez of Farmersville; 11-year-old Stellan Piggott of Celina and 7-year-old Thiago Hernandez of Anna.
“The children’s faces light up the night and the runway,” said Children’s Cancer Fund Executive Director Jennifer Arthur. “They are brave survivors every day who inspire us in our work all year round. On this night, they are the stars who shine brightly for their families, the audience, and each other.”
The gala, which is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser for pediatric cancer, featured NBC 5 anchor Meredith Land as mistress of ceremonies.
Sponsors include: Flexport; Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers; Jerry Standlee Memorial Fund; Texas de Brazil; Brittany and Scott Everett; Children’s Health; Raising Cane’s; Marianne and Roger Staubach; Bentley Dallas; A Real Life Fairy Tale; Emberli and David Pridham; The Derek Holland 60 Feet 6 Foundation; Holly and Barry Pennett; American Income Life Insurance; Angelique and Ray Waddell; Faith, Fight, Finish Foundation by Dak Prescott; Amanda and Nick Sunderman; Team Izzy Foundation; Lynn and Jim Stroud; Kristy and Mark Kundysek; Hartline Barger LLP; ISN; Five Star Pools; Vistra Energy; Troy Aikman; Cooper Clinic; Bela and Chase Cooley; Shelby Goff; CB Choi Family Foundation; Lauren and Cody Moorse; KPMG LLP; Kay and Jim Wade; Topgolf; Headington Companies; Graybar, INC; Lindy and Brad Berkley Family Foundation; Dave Chenoweth and Patti Barron-Chenoweth; Brown and Brown; Holmes Murphy; Sewell Automotive; Mike Glover and Todd Edmundson; Ryan Foundation; Onco Filtration; Jennifer and Walker Royall; Flooring Services; Josh Pack; Strong Travel; Truist; PricewaterhouseCoopers; Fred Shapiro and Karen Bradshaw; Breitling; Candice and Tony Romo; Nici and David Muzzo; UT Southwestern; Southwestern Medical Foundation; Lauren Kay Sims; American Airlines; bell’INVITO; The Campbell Agency; Modern Luxury; Dillard’s; Flexpress Digital; Balloon Therapy; GRO Designs; NBC 5-Telemundo 39; Niven Morgan; No Filter Photography; NorthPark Center; Osadía; PaperCity; and U Beauty.