Mascots for a Cure is a tiny and amazing break from a families difficult reality with childhood cancer. They came into our lives and unite like family. These amazing people allowed our daughter Aaliyah to live her dream of opening up her bakery before her passing and we are extremely blessed for everything they had allowed her to see. Mascots for a Cure is important to us because they bring joy not just to the kids but to the whole family. We as a family believe Mascots for a Cure is something every kid needs to experience at least once in their life because of the amazing difference they make.
We were honored to be invited to join the Cancer Curesaders at their annual FunFest event in Beaverton, OR. We were joined by the mascots from Menchie’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Applebees, and the Blue Jay. We had fun taking the Chubby Checker Twist Challenge with the participants, staff, and even doctors and researchers from OHSU!
What made this event so special was the variety of events taking place and the wonderful information about childhood cancer that was shared. There was a dove release to represent the children that were lost this year to childhood cancer at OHSU. They had doctors from OHSU and childhood cancer researchers speak about what they do, new developments, and the promise of a future cure for this disease. Child survivors took the stage and were awarded metals for their bravery! There were fire trucks and K9 units for the kids to check out, mascots to take pictures with, and a lot of booths that represented community partners who also share our passion in the fight against childhood cancer. This event was extremely special and is something that Mascots for a Cure plans on being a part of each and every year.
We had another wonderful visit with the children and the staff at Randall Children’s Hospital on August 10. We were joined by Blue Jay, the Bee from Applebees, and Blazin’ Bill from Buffalo Wild Wings. We had approximately five to seven children join us during this particular visit. The mascots colored with the kids, did art projects, and played board games. This was a wonderful and special visit.
We are really looking forward to our next visit at Randall Children’s Hospital on September 12 for one of our Courageous Knights’ (Aaliyah Salgado) birthday celebration. We are also scheduled to do a visit with Randall on National Twist Day, Thursday, September 21.
We were fortunate enough to visit one of our favorite high schools, Pottstown High School, about 45 minutes northwest of Philadelphia. Pottstown High School has been unbelievably supportive with Mascots for a Cure and our effort to help fight childhood cancer. Their entire school district has done our Chubby Checker Twist Challenge, they have sold our Mascots for a Cure shields in September during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and they have helped fundraise in countless other ways.
We were able to perform our Knighting Ceremony on both Dave Woodley and the amazing Trojan Men mascots. Pottstown High School also hosted a school pep rally to welcome Mascots for a Cure on their campus. Their band was playing, their cheerleaders were dancing, and their mascots were having fun with the student body and teachers. It was such an honor and special experience to be able to spend the afternoon with Dave Woodley, the amazing staff and students of Pottstown High School. Once a Trojan, Always a Trojan!
Gallery (Pottstown High School):
Friday night we took three of our Courageous Knights and Royal Families out for a fun and memorable night at the Philadelphia 76ers vs Washington Wizards game. We were able to get pre-game access to watch the players warm up, got a special visit in our seats by Franklin the Blue Dog, and we were even able to meet some of the players after the game. Mascots for a Cure and our Courageous Knights were able to spend some quality time with both Bradley Beal and Otto Porter from the Washington Wizards. We took a lot of photos with them and Bradley Beal even did the Chubby Checker Twist Challenge with one of our Courageous Knights, Layla! This was a night that was special for all of us and that we will all remember.
Dates: Wednesday, February 22nd – Thursday, February 23rd
We teamed up with the great people at Crouse Hospital and held a Lace Up and Twist Away Childhood Cancer Rally at the Pomeroy School of Nursing at Crouse Hospital. There were approximately 30 wonderful nursing students who were so much fun and had such great energy as they took on the Chubby Checker Twist Challenge! Some of the nursing students purchased Mascots for a Cure t-shirts and even made an $80 donation from their Honor Society. It was absolutely amazing to get the opportunity to work together with Bob Allen and Christine Brown on this project. They were incredibly gracious to open up their school and hospital for us to record all kinds of fun promotional material. We were able to create a partnership with Crouse Hospital that will last for years to come.
On Thursday, February 23rd we teamed up with Syracuse University, the Syracuse Cheer Team, Otto the Orange, and the Syracuse Women’s Basketball team to perform the Chubby Checker Twist Challenge during the first quarter of the game. We had access to the entire stadium for taking photographs and shooting footage for this great visit in Syracuse. It was so amazing to be able to go on the floor of the Syracuse game and see our message played on the big screen, to get the entire cheer team involved and the entire crowd to take our Chubby Checker Twist Challenge! We look forward to being able to do this exact same concept with other universities across the nation!
We were able to connect with the head of security about Mascots for a Cure, how it got started, about our mission, and about the journey we were about to take. He was so inspired that he opened up his wallet and donated $60 to our cause and mission. He was a wonderful man and really opened up the Carrier Dome to us for this event.
Knighting Ceremony: Knighted Otto the Orange and Scooch and Pops as part of our “Characters Who Care.”
Mascots: Sir Roland BraveHeart, Otto the Orange from Syracuse University, Scooch and Pops from the Syracuse Chiefs
Coming off of the Philly tour launch, we were ready to go and had Boston in our sights armed with our new MFAC Shield Blankets that arrived just in time.
Tuesday morning came fast, and the road was calling so we drove up through New York City and over to Woburn, MA, for our very first Rotary Club presentation and Chubby Checker Twist Challenge. It was such a pleasure to have lunch with the fine folks of the Woburn Rotary Club, to present to them about Mascots for a Cure, and to get them to take the Chubby Checker Twist Challenge. It was a lot of fun to see them all smiling and having a great time while taking the Chubby Checker Twist Challenge. They were kind enough to donate $36 to our cause and also purchase some of our Mascots for a Cure gear.
After the Rotary Club meeting in Woburn, we drove to Boston to do a Lace Up and Twist Rally at the iconic Cheers on Beacon Hill. We met the wonderful staff there including the owner, Mr. Tom Kershaw. We recorded a very fun Chubby Checker Twist Challenge with Mr. Kershaw and his staff where they challenged the Founder of Sam Adams, Jim Koch, and their other Cheers location at Fanueil Hall. Oh, and Mr. Kershaw and Cheers were incredibly kind and generous with their $10,000 donation to our cause and Mascots for a Cure. What a way to start off our Lace Up and Twist Away Childhood Cancer Tour! It is these kinds of donations that will help us help kids and families battling cancer.
Mascots: Sir Roland BraveHeart, Slider from the Portland Seadogs
Rotary Club: Woburn Rotary Club
Lace Up and Twist Rally: Cheers Boston – Beacon Hill
City: Philadelphia, PA Date: Monday, February 20th, 2017 Hospital Visit: N/A
We kicked off our Lace Up and Twist Away Childhood Cancer Tour in the City of Brotherly Love on FOX 29’s Good Day Philadelphia! The Tour will take us through 36+ cities over the next 48 days or so with one goal in mind…TO CRUSH CHILDHOOD CANCER! Two of our Courageous Knights, Layla, and Max joined us along with a handful of mascots to help kick things off. Derek, Layla, and Reggy were all interviewed as we talked about our tour and our mission in the fight against childhood cancer. Layla personally challenged Taylor Swift and Laurie Hernandez to take the Chubby Checker Twist Challenge. If this first show was any indication, this tour is going to be a lot of fun!
After our great morning show on Fox 29, the mascots and MFAC staff went to JJ Bootleggers to game plan for our first of what will be many Lace Up and Twist Rallies. It is because of the support of local businesses like this that this type of effort is possible.
At 1 PM we marched over to one of the most historic landmarks in US history to hold our Lace Up and Twist Rally in front of the beautiful Independence Hall. Three of our Courageous Knights and Royal Families joined us for this rally as well as some kind hearted locals who all helped to raise awareness and funds and to twist away childhood cancer! It was a beautiful day in Philadelphia and a great way to officially kick off our tour!
Throughout the tour we will be engaging with various groups to Lace Up and Twist!
How you can help:
Get your Lacey’s Laces from Shoe Carnival Stores or online at shoecarnival.com/lacey. This initiative is in partnership with the American Cancer Society, Coaches vs. Cancer, Princess Lacey’s Legacy and Mascots For A Cure.
Take the Chubby Checker Twist Challenge by twisting for 36 seconds to represent the number of kids diagnosed with cancer in the US every day, donate to Mascots For A Cure, and challenge others to do the same! Post your videos to every social media outlet you can and be sure to direct donations to mascotsforacure.org/donate or the tour campaign at our GoFundMe page.
Reach out to us if you or someone you know is battling childhood cancer. We look forward to helping as many kids and families as we can.
Knighting Ceremony: Ceremonial Knighting with Layla
Media: “Good Day Philadelphia” – Fox 29, CBS 3, ABC, NBC, My New Philly, My Philly Mag
Mascots: Sir Roland BraveHeart, Reggy the Purple Party Dude, Rocky Blue Winkle, Trojan Men, Jurdy the Hero of Happiness, and the Fatjacks BBQ Mascot
All right, PHILADELPHIA…The The Lace Up and Twist Away Childhood Cancer Tour kicks off tomorrow with an appearance on Fox 29’s Good Day Philadelphia between 9:30am and 10am and then a Lace Up and Twist Rally at Independence Mall at 1pm!!! Please spread the word and join us for the Rally to help Lace Up and Twist Away Childhood Cancer.
Layla was diagnosed with metastatic Ewing’s Sarcoma on February 4, 2016, after several months of unexplained abdominal pain and struggling to keep on weight. Layla had been tested for a host of diseases including Type 1 diabetes and Celiac Disease. By January, Layla was getting severe stomach and back pain that would wake her up in the middle of the night and was only relieved by heat. The night before a scheduled ultrasound, while in the tub trying to relieve her pain, her mother noticed a lump on her back. At the ultrasound the following morning, images of the lump were taken. Less than an hour later, the nightmare began for Layla’s entire family. Her pediatrician called and said that Layla was being admitted immediately to AI DuPont Children’s Hospital’s oncology floor to have a CT scan and an MRI. By noon the next day, it was confirmed that Layla had a large cancerous tumor on her 9th, 10th, and 11th ribs as well as twelve spots in her lungs. They weren’t sure yet, but the oncologist was fairly certain that it was Ewing’s Sarcoma, a very rare and very aggressive form of bone cancer. Her family was told not to look up any information about it until they knew for sure. When it was confirmed, and Layla was officially diagnosed, she was given a 30% chance of surviving five years. There is no cure for Ewing’s Sarcoma. There is a standard treatment that has a good response rate, but Ewing’s Sarcoma almost always comes back, and for relapse there is no protocol.
Layla was accepted into a clinical trial at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia that included 14 rounds of intense chemotherapy, a resection surgery to remove the remaining tumor and affected ribs, and eight days of whole lung radiation. She is still currently in the maintenance phase, which consists of an infusion of an experimental drug every three weeks. She will be completely finished with treatment in May of 2017, but as of her latest scans she has no signs of cancer! She will continue to have frequent CT scans and MRI’s for the rest of her life. The chemotherapy that Layla and so many other children have to endure causes many late effects. Layla is waiting on a neurological evaluation for short term memory problems as well as learning difficulties. She also now suffers from neuropathy in her legs and feet, which can cause pain and trouble walking.
Through all that Layla has endured, however, she has remained the shining light in her family. Her positivity and smile has helped carry her family through this difficult time. While facing the unimaginable, Layla began to use the mantra “No biggie!”, and shared this with her friends in the oncology ward. She hopes to inspire other kids to be brave and keep smiling.
Mascots for a Cure means so much to our family. Not only do they fight tirelessly to raise awareness for Childhood Cancer, they bring so much joy to children and their families all around the country. They give so much hope and to the Childhood Cancer community, and I have no doubt that they will continue to make a huge impact in the fight against Childhood Cancer.
Hospital Visit: Crouse Hospital – Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
Date: Wednesday, February 15th
This was a HUGE day for Mascots for a Cure and one we will never forget. It was a day that we would be working with our new International Celebrity Spokesperson, Chubby Checker, to create some meaningful content to drive messaging to help with the Lace Up and Twist Away Childhood Cancer Tour and our overall fundraising and general efforts to support kids and families battling childhood cancer.
The day started with an early wakeup call to do a fun media appearance on News Channel 9 WSYR’s Bridge Street show in Syracuse with Chubby Checker and our Courageous Knights, Layla and Max. It was a great way to start off our media blitz and share our story. During the show we met this amazing band called Decades Rewind and we were invited to not only go to their show that night in Syracuse as their guests, but they also invited all of us on stage and talked about Mascots for a Cure and our mission and to do the Chubby Checker Twist Challenge as they performed “The Twist”!
After the show, we shifted gears and headed over to Crouse’s Pomroy School of Nursing where we had things set up to shoot with Chubby, Sir Roland Braveheart, and our Courageous Knights. We spent the entire day with Chubby Checker doing a lot of challenge videos, promo videos, and other material that we could use for our campaign, Lace Up and Twist Away Childhood Cancer Tour and Mascots for a Cure overall.
In between our shoot at the nursing school and our next stop, we were invited to walk through Crouse Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to see first-hand the incredible work they do there. Some of the babies were smaller than the size of a hand. Hard to believe, and a truly unique experience!
To finish things off the group shot over to the home of the Syracuse Chiefs Baseball Club, NBT Bank Stadium, for a few final green screen shots. It was such an honor and pleasure to meet the King of the Twist in person! Chubby was such a humble man that showed a lot of passion and care for what we are doing with Mascots for a Cure. We couldn’t be happier to have Chubby on board to represent MFAC as our official International Celerity Spokesperson. To think that an icon and music legend has teamed up with us…AMAZING!