Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation (TBCF) is the only local nonprofit organization that provides financial, educational and emotional support to area families who have a child with cancer. The organization also has a reputation for beautiful signature events.

Their flagship event, the Gold Ribbon Luncheon held at Four Seasons, the Biltmore Resort Santa Barbara, historically gathers over 400 individuals to raise critical funds for families in the tri-counties battling pediatric cancer, and the event raises almost a third of their annual operating expenses.  This year, however, TBCF had decided to forego the event entirely.

“Our families are in dire situations right now, and we’ve made the decision to focus on serving them to our best ability right now,” said Eryn Shugart, interim executive director. “Some of our families have lost their entire income, and many are in danger of going hungry … all while they’re caring for a very ill child.

“We just really need to focus on them right now, and not on planning our luncheon. Also, out of concern for the health of our supporters, we don’t believe that holding a large luncheon event would be appropriate, even if the orders are lifted.”

For this reason, TBCF has made the decision not to hold an event to focus all staff resources on serving eligible families. This decision will inevitably result in an enormous budget shortfall, and TBCF is relying on support from their donor base now more than ever before.

Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation will, however, continue its annual Gold Ribbon Campaign through September in recognition of Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. Gold is the official ribbon color for pediatric cancer and TBCF will be distributing gold ribbons in September to help spread awareness for their campaign.

Fundraising for the campaign will focus on a USPS direct mail appeal, sponsorships, a raffle, and an online silent auction. Campaign sponsorships offer robust benefits including upgraded marketing and promotional opportunities ideal for businesses, and smaller sponsorship levels and gifts to encourage more participation from individuals and youth.

Every sponsorship level will include a gift certificate to a local small business or restaurant as TBCF’s attempt to support the small businesses that have supported them over their 18- year history.

“I feel really good about offering local restaurant gift cards to our campaign sponsors,” said Kirsten Stuart, development and communications director. “We are also providing our sponsors with the option to donate the gift card directly to a TBCF family, should they prefer.

“TBCF is stable today because of the past participation of our small business community and it feels wonderful to be able to give back to them after so many years of support, especially now.”

The campaign co-chairs are Eileen Dill and Brigitte Welty. They will help oversee an online silent auction, raffle, and marketing of the campaign and help to spread TBCF’s mission and message of hope.

Last year, Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation provided critical financial aid to 55 local families and served a total of 851 individuals through their three core programs. TBCF’s mission advocates for families living in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, who have a child battling cancer by providing financial, emotional, and educational support.

TBCF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has been serving the tri-counties since 2002. For information about TBCF’s mission or for sponsorship information, contact Shugart at Eryn@TeddyBearCancerFoundation.org.