September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and in recognition the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation announces its inaugural eight-week awareness and fundraising effort — the Gold Ribbon Campaign — to take now through Oct. 31.

The campaign will seek to increase public knowledge about the gold ribbon symbol, foster understanding of childhood cancer issues, create supportive communities for families who are experiencing childhood cancer, and provide funding for TBCF’s critical emotional and financial support programs.

The gold ribbon is the worldwide official ribbon of children with cancer. Every day, 36 children are diagnosed with cancer in the United States. The average duration of pediatric cancer treatment ranges from six months to three years.

One in 300 children will be diagnosed with cancer by the time they are 20 years old. More than 160,000 children are diagnosed with cancer worldwide. When a child is diagnosed with cancer, their parents have to take time off work, or quit their job, to be in the hospital with their child — significantly decreasing their monthly income.

“We at TBCF are very committed to our families in the Tri-Counties,” Executive Director Lindsey Guerrero said. “We believe that raising awareness of childhood cancer in our community will ignite support for us, which in turn will enable us to provide support to these families during the difficult period of cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery.”

One such family includes Santa Barbara County’s Maddi Cofield, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) on Dec. 9, 2009. Maddi received bone marrow from her younger brother, Nathan, when she needed a bone marrow transplant. Maddi is currently in remission. She is doing wonderful — her brother saved her life!

“December 2, 2009: the date which changed our family forever. One day we were a normal busy family with active children, the very next we listened to the ER doctor with frightened hearts. Our daughter was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She was only 14 at the time, and the unexpected news shook our family and friends to the core.

“As we stepped into a world that we knew nothing about, we felt many hearts and arms reach out to help us. One of these was Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation. Through our social worker, Robyn, they worked their magic, anticipating our needs before we even knew what we needed. Because of this, we were able to focus on our two children, Maddi and Nathan, who needed our undivided attention, more than ever.

“As our lives and needs changed, so did the kind of support we received. Teddy Bear helped in so many ways, emotional and monetary, for each member of our family. For Maddi, the most memorable event was her birthday celebration. A date with a chemotherapy pump is not a young girl’s dream for her 15th birthday, but Teddy Bear stepped in and threw her a surprise party at the hospital, complete with a private showing of Eclipse and autographs from Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattison. The brilliance of Maddi’s smile was perfectly uplifting and heartwarming to all who witnessed it that day.

“Our path to recovery has taken many steps including a bone marrow transplant in April 2010. Our hearts are full as Maddi walks this path, getting stronger with each passing day. Laughter and love make the unbearable, bearable as does the kindness and generosity of family, friends and strangers. We could not have done this alone.

“Since the very beginning of our journey, Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation has been there, like a big hug, surrounding us with the comfort of knowing that unwavering support is always only moments away.

“Thank you, Teddy Bear, for all the sunshine you bring us.


“Margaret, Warren, Madelyn and Nathan Cofield”

The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation would like to thank their sponsors, without whom the Gold Ribbon Campaign would not be possible:

» Gold Champion Bear Sponsor — Bobby W. Ryan and family

» Visionary Bear Sponsors — Jim Bechtel of Wells Fargo Private Bank and Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation board president

» Healer Bear Sponsors — Global Physique and SB Philanthropy

» Ambassador Bear Sponsors — Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, The Attic and Wells Fargo Bank

» Advocate Bear Sponsors — Cottage Health System, MarBorg Industries, Montecito Bank & Trust and Venoco Inc.

» Media Sponsors — KEYT, K-LITE 101.7, Montecito Journal, Noozhawk,, Santa Barbara Independent and Santa Barbara News Press

The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation seeks to raise $200,000 from 1,000 individuals and get our message out to 250,000 people in the Tri-County Area.

Childhood cancer affects our community. This is your golden opportunity to be a champion for local children with cancer and their families during Teddy Bear Foundation’s Gold Ribbon Campaign.

To donate, click here or call 805.962.7466, or simply make a donation on your cell phone by texting the word TEDDY in message to 51400.

— Flannery Hill is a publicist representing the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.