The Paella Picnic

By Lynda Millner   |   August 20, 2020
The three co-chairs at the Paella Picnic pickup area (from left) Ariana Mezic, Sheila Hunt, and Maria Wilson

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That’s what the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation did. Because of COVID-19 their spring event was cancelled and also their fall fundraising event, the Gold Ribbon Luncheon. They have been operating since 2002 and hope their latest venture will add to the coffers. And it did. The Paella Picnic!

The foundation had a partnership with SB Paella Catering, Andersen’s Danish Bakery, and Village Properties. “Folks will drive into Village Properties, park and pick up a beautiful bag filled with paella (a dish invented in Valencia, Spain) for four, with wine, dessert, and a gift,” said Kirsten Stuart, the foundation’s director of development and communications. “Then take it home to enjoy in their own backyard or a park.” And more than 400 people did.

The paella catering truck preparing the picnic

There was also an opportunity drawing, a wine pull, and a giving tree. There were three large packages: Three SONOS speakers; a fashion spree at Giuliana Montecito and a staycation package with a paella dinner for ten, plus many local excursions.

What is all this for? It will support local families facing the financial and emotional burden of a pediatric cancer diagnosis. Interim executive director Eryn Shugart explained: “TBCF is the only local organization to provide financial, educational, and emotional support to families battling pediatric cancer in the tri-counties. We provide a variety of support programs to families of youth up to age twenty-one.”

The Giving Tree raising funds for the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation

In 2019 TBCF served a record 851 individuals through their core programs: financial stability, emotional support, and educational advocacy. Event co-chair Sheela Hunt states, “I support TBCF because children battling cancer should always have the comfort of a parent by their side.” Co-chair Adriana Mezic says she’s involved because, “I support and connect with TBCF on a very personal level because pediatric cancer diagnosis affects the entire family and we consider ourselves an extended family support system.” Third co-chair Maria Wilson added, “You never know how important the impact of TBCF is until you meet some of the families, hear their stories, and see the appreciation on their faces. The money we are raising from this event will allow these parents to focus on their child in need, so they can be there for that child.” Helping the co-chairs were Carolyn Shepard Baham, Nina Johnson, Terre and Gary Lapman, Maria Long, Debbie Neer, Tara Zanecki,and Mandana Mir.

TBCF will not be hosting their annual luncheon at the Four Seasons this year which typically raises a third of their operating expenses so the success of this campaign is critical in order to continue supporting all the families who need their services. For more information, call Kirsten Stuart at 805-962-7466.


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