Chaired by foundation board member Elizabeth Kaufman, the annual Heroes Curing Childhood Cancer Gala on Saturday raised $769,000 for psychosocial services — including art and music therapy, education, counseling, and other vital programs for children with cancer and other conditions. The event featured a cocktail hour, dinner, a silent auction, a live auction, and dancing. Watch the video "Fight Song" that was shown at the event to show music therapy in action.
Making a special appearance was Mrs. Karen Pence, Second Lady of the United States, who spoke about her support for raising awareness of the importance of art therapy. "Over the past decade I have seen first-hand and heard the stories of the impact that art therapy has on those who have the benefit of this unique treatment," she said. "This is why as Second Lady I am focusing on this unique profession." She explained, "This is not arts and crafts. These art therapists are just that…therapists. I have a master’s degree in art education…and I am not qualified to do what they do."
She recognized the therapists who were in attendance and added, "At Children’s National, you are changing lives. You provide a sense of hope to children and their families battling through a difficult period in their lives. It’s encouraging to know that we have so many champions of art therapy right here in Washington, D.C. and throughout the United States and around the world." Three patients presented Mrs. Pence with artwork that was prepared by patients at Children's National.
Dr. Kurt Newman, president and CEO of Children's National, spoke about his admiration for the children the event raised money for. "In my three-plus decades as a physician and surgeon, some of the most memorable patients I’ve encountered are the incredible children who are fighting cancer." he said. "The combination of their amazingly resilient biology, emotional strength, and stunning mental toughness is truly inspiring. The stories of these patients – many of whom won their battles, while others lost – drive me every single day. At Children’s National, we’re leading the way in developing new and better treatments to not only help children defeat cancer, but to spare them pain and suffering along the way. And to give them a high quality of life after they complete their treatment."
Dr. Jeffrey Dome, the vice president of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, explained the vital role that psychosocial services play in healing children. "Specialists in psychosocial services make invaluable connections with patients that foster more effective provider-patient communication, such as helping children of all ages understand a particular procedure, course of treatment, or teach a young patient how to swallow a pill. Programs like our Tracy’s Kids art therapy, child life, and music therapy engage children, bring out their creativity and self-expression, and help children smile and be kids in spite of often difficult moments or days."
Elizabeth Kaufman thanked the 350 attendees, committee members, and sponsors for their support, noting that her family benefited from psychosocial services when her daughter Arabelle was treated for cancer. "The Heroes Gala is not just the largest fundraiser for cancer treatment at Children’s National, but one of the most important events for childhood cancer here in our nation’s capital," she said, "And that’s because it doesn’t just support care, but also research and the many services and programs that contribute to short-term and long-term healing for children and their families. Your support tonight will make a real difference for many, many children and families."