Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation
It’s amazing how many people will get up very early to come to the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort for a 7:30 am breakfast in support of the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation’s (TBCF) Little Heroes breakfast. And thank goodness they do because of all the good they do for young cancer patients.
We learned that there are three programs: the first is the Family Fund, which is a financial stability program. Low to moderate-income families can receive help with household bills and expenses associated with caring for a sick child. Funds also help offset the loss of income due to one or both parents reducing work hours or leaving their job to care for their child. The second is Help for the Heart, which is emotional support. TBCF provides professional and peer support to the entire family. And last is Tools for School. This gives parents the tools to support and advocate for the child’ academic career with a smooth transition back to school after treatment.
Brad Lilley from KTYD welcomed the audience and TBCF executive director Lindsey Leonard spoke to the group telling us, “Each case is different.” The good news is that due to research there is an 80% chance of a cure but sometimes there is a relapse. It costs about $10,000 a year to care for a child with cancer and can last six months to three years.
The day’s Little Hero was Faith DeBrum. Her father Ronnie told us how difficult it was to keep his car running with all the added bills. “Teddy Bear was with us every step of the way.” What was sad was to see children in the hospital without a parent. Faith was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma when she was eleven and began treatment at Cottage Hospital Children’s Medical Center. At one point when she began to lose her hair she and her dad both shaved their heads. The family was invited to the TV show The Voice. One of the celebrities told Faith, “You were named Faith for a reason.” The family learned that every day has a purpose.
The keynote speaker was Eduardo Garcia whose film of his life after being electrocuted and getting cancer was shown at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on opening night in 2017. Eduardo is a trained chef who began his career at age 15 flipping burgers and throwing pizzas and then attended culinary school. He spent ten years on the high seas cooking as a private chef on luxury yachts.
He returned to Montana and founded Montana Mex – happy food. Meantime he went hunting in 2011 and came across a bear carcass. He received a catastrophic electrical shock from a 2400-volt power line hidden beneath the animal, knocking him unconscious. He walked three miles to the nearest road even though severely burned and badly injured. He had half of his left arm amputated and removal of several ribs plus a cancer diagnosis. Today he lives his best life outdoors hunting, fishing, and cooking plus delivering motivational speeches. He is the epitome of what a “refuse to quit attitude” can accomplish.
As Lindsey said to the audience, “In 2018 you helped 180 families through initial diagnosis, during treatment and into recovery. You made sure 14 kids successfully returned to school after missing classes during treatment. You helped 234 individuals navigate the emotional trauma of a pediatric cancer diagnosis. And, you made sure 128 parents had the financial security to stay by their kids’ side though ever step of treatment.
If you’d like to donate to this worthy cause, call 805.962.7466 for information.