Nikki Katz

Nikki Katz

The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit organization that provides financial and emotional support to families whose children have cancer, has announced that the organization’s founder and program director, Nikki Katz, will leave the organization in early 2013 following an extraordinary decade of caring and service to the communities of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties.

The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, founded in 2002 by Katz, recently celebrated its 10-year milestone with a gala dinner and auction highlighting the foundation’s decade of service while honoring key individuals whose efforts have profoundly influenced the organization’s success.

“Nikki has been a visionary for TBCF since the beginning,” Executive Director Lindsey Guerrero said. “Her dedication to helping others and her perseverance in the face of enormous challenges has made it possible for this amazing foundation to serve so many children and families in need. Her legacy of caring has been an inspiration we hope to continue for many decades to come.”

“A decade ago, I had an amazing experience, an epiphany,” Katz said. “In an instant I knew what I wanted to do in the coming years, and I refused to believe it wasn’t possible: I wanted to build a support system for local families with a child battling cancer. While I couldn’t change the child’s diagnosis, I could make the family’s journey a little easier. I was backed by some of Santa Barbara’s finest individuals — and encouraged by the people we serve, many of whom have become like family to me. Their encouragement was a driving force behind the creation of Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.

“Now, having reached our 10-year milestone, I feel in my heart that it’s time to move on, to pursue my passion for philanthropy and create anew. The realization of this goal has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life so far; I have been humbled and blessed in ways impossible to describe. To everyone who has been a part of this amazing journey, thank you.”

“We are proud of TBCF’s unprecedented success and the services we have been able to provide over the past decade,” Guerrero said. “Our strategic planning process will continue to lead and guide us in enhancing the quality and reach of our services, strengthening our partnerships, and in ensuring continued stability. As we move into the next successful chapter of service, we ask our generous supporters to help us fill the gap for families in need. Their support, in the form of a year-end donation, is genuinely appreciated and essential to our mission of providing emotional and financial support to families of children with cancer living in the communities of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties for many more years to come.”

— Lindsey Guerrero is executive director of the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.