Champions walk down runway for a cure

October 15, 2019

Cami Cannary and Milli Cruz are truly a dynamic duo. The mother and daughter both have faced pediatric cancer and fought it with everything they’ve got.

Cami was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 1989 and battled it with the help of Dr. ZoAnn Dreyer, director of the Texas Children’s Cancer Center’s Long-Term Survivor Program. Diagnosed with leukemia in 2018 when she was just 20 years old, Milli also is Dr. Dreyer’s patient, receiving care at Texas Children’s Cancer Center. She currently is in the maintenance phase of her treatment plan and is looking forward to completing her therapy in about a year.

“It’s been a long, tough road, but I’m getting to the good spots, and my mom has been a huge help,” Milli said. “She’s provided me with so much support and insight that only she could give.”

To celebrate how far they both have come, Milli and Cami, along with other cancer patients and survivors, walked the runway on October 11 at the 12th Annual Champions Luncheon and Fashion Show, formerly known as the Celebration of Champions, at River Oaks Country Club.

“Caregivers at Texas Children’s Cancer Center recognize that health concerns for childhood cancer patients do not end when their cancer treatment is successfully completed,” said Dr. Susan Blaney, Director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers. “The Long-Term Survivor Program, which currently follows about 1,500 pediatric cancer survivors, has developed an international reputation as a leader in the field and has attracted world-renowned faculty involved in local, national and international research that benefits today’s pediatric cancer patients and future survivors.”

During the event, pediatric cancer patients and survivors from Texas Children’s Cancer Center were escorted down the runway by local philanthropists or “Community Champions.” Milli and Cami were paired with Dreyer, who said she has never cared for both a parent and a child during her career at Texas Children’s.

“These two women are very special,” Dreyer said. “They have a powerful bond, and I’m so glad they are getting to celebrate that today at this beautiful event.”

View photos from the event below.

Five-year-old Gatlin Massey walked the runway with Ed and Gwen Emmett. Ed Emmett served as Harris County Judge for 12 years and is now a professor at Rice University, a senior fellow at Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, and a distinguished senior fellow at Northeastern University’s Global Resilience Institute. Gwen Emmett is active in the community on many levels and is currently board chair for Baker Ripley. Her passion is children and making them safe and capable young adults.

“It’s absolutely wonderful to be part of something so special,” Gwen Emmett said.

The Champions Luncheon was chaired by Sidney Faust, Judi McGee, Elsie Eckert and Scott Basinger, who have overseen the luncheon each year since its inception. Thanks to underwriting by Faust Distributing Company and Mach Industrial Group, Inc., each patient was able to keep his or her hand-picked outfit – much to the delight of the “models.”

All funds raised during the luncheon will benefit Texas Children’s Cancer Center’s Long-Term Survivor Program, one of the nation’s only long-term childhood cancer survivor programs that sees survivors through adulthood. Today, more than 37,000 survivors treated at 138 clinics around the world are using Passport for Care, a free online resource developed at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and Baylor College of Medicine that provides individualized health care information to guide care for effects from childhood cancer treatment. Patients who are not signed up through their clinic may benefit from Passport for Care’s resources by using the newly-developed Screenings Recommendations Generator.

The Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children’s Cancer and Hematology Clinic in McAllen, Texas, a site of Texas Children’s Cancer Center, hosted a similar fundraising event on September 25. The 6th Annual Celebration of Heroes Fashion Show and Luncheon was held at the McAllen Convention Center and raised over $140,000. All proceeds benefitted the Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children’s Cancer and Hematology Clinic’s Charitable Care Program. For more information about Vannie Cook, click here.