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Monday, November 19 , 2018, 4:24 pm | Fair with Haze 64º


Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation Caps Off Campaign with Gold Ribbon Luncheon

Awards, a spirited auction and the fundraising efforts of a group of youths highlight the event to support the Santa Barbara organization's mission


Commemorating its 15th year of helping provide for families who have a child with cancer, the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation held its annual Gold Ribbon Luncheon last week at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara.

The event capped off TBCF’s flagship awareness and fundraising campaign, which is held each September in recognition of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Funds raised through the campaign help ensure that TBCF is able to serve all eligible families requesting assistance and to not turn away any family.

Originally scheduled at The Biltmore’s Coral Casino, the luncheon was moved to a tented outdoor venue on the hotel’s lawn in order to accommodate an overflow crowd of more than 400 attendees.

This premier event showcased special volunteers and donors who received awards. It was adeptly emceed by Andrew Firestone, who also enthusiastically conducted a successful live auction, thanks to the many generous bidders in the audience.

“We are all here today for many different reasons,” Firestone said. “The community of Santa Barbara has a pattern of doing what is right, and I believe that is why we are here today.”

Foundation Executive Director Lindsey Leonard said, “The average out-of-pocket expenses for a family with a child with cancer is $10,000 a year. Thanks to your support today, we are able to help these families facing the tremendous challenge when learning that their child has a cancer diagnosis.”

Since its founding in 2002, the foundation has served 1,808 individuals and has gifted $1,688,996 in financial aid. Leonard pointed out 15-year old Colby from Ojai, who was the first recipient of a Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation grant when he was 9 years old.

A deluxe dinner for 10 people prepared by amateur chef and Santa Barbara International Film Festival Executive Director Roger Durling was the first item up for bid in the live auction. The dinner will be held at the Montecito home of TBCF supporters Jeff and Margo Baker Barbakow.

Ginni Dreier was an active bidder. Jeff Barbakow quipped, “If you up your bid, I will even let the dogs out that night.” Dreier ultimately was the winning bidder at $6,000. The foundation was well on its way of raising its $260,000 goal for the event.

Premier Bear Sponsors Jeffrey and Margo Baker Barbakow.
Premier Bear Sponsors Jeffrey and Margo Baker Barbakow. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

A particularly touching moment at the event was when Earl Minnis introduced the dozen or so youth fundraisers who had raised $18,000 for the organization through activities as varied as bake sales, accepting donations in lieu of birthday presents, performing Flamenco grams, selling handmade pompoms, collecting recyclables at workplaces and many others.

By the end of the afternoon, two generous donors in the audience both matched the $18,000 raised by the young people as they were so touched by their efforts.

Honors presented included the Heart of Gold Award to Rachael Steidl, who served as board chair for 2007-09. She is the founder of ParentClick and is active in many community charities.

The Helping Hands Award went to Southern California Edison’s Ventura District, which has volunteered tirelessly for the foundation and has raised more than $73,000 to support pediatric cancer patients and families.

The Solodon family received the Pay It Forward Award for their collective countless hours of dedication to champion the cause of helping families dealing with pediatric cancer. The Solodon family received support from TBCF in 2000 when Becca, then 16, was diagnosed with cancer. Becca is now the foundation’s program director.

This year’s Gold Ribbon Luncheon Committee included Hal Price, Connie Gillies, Erin Griffin, Jamie Hansen, Corey Lester, Monique Montgomery, Lacy Taylor, Michael Taylor and John Weninger with support from Pamela Gruen, Kathy Kelley, Stephanie Noel, and Kirlin and Bibi Moezzi.

The board of directors includes chairman Rich Schuette, Bibi Moezzi, J. Paul Gignac, David Edelman, Carolyn Shepard Baham, Adam Black, Tyler Dobson, Donna Barranco Fisher, Sheela Hunt, Ambia McLaughlin, Adriana Mezic, Nathan Rogers and Maria Wilson.

The luncheon was supported by the Gold Ribbon Campaign sponsors as well as the Barbakows, the Premier Bear Sponsor. Additional support came from Visionary Bear Sponsors Aera Energy, Avalan Wealth Management/Rich Schuette, Lash Construction, Mad Fitness SB, The Macaluso Group, Pacific Premier Bank, Thomas and Charmaine Rogers, Wells Fargo Bank and many others.

TBCF is dedicated to empowering families in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties who have a child (up to age 21) with cancer, by providing them with emotional, educational and financial support. Over the years, TBCF has donated more than $1.7 million to families in need.

Click here for more information about the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, including how to become involved by volunteering, making a donation or supporting kids with cancer, or call 805.563.4740 or email Leonard at [email protected].

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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