The Gala also Featured a Surprise Check Presentation of $1 Million from Honorary Chair Peter Cancro, Founder and CEO, of Jersey Mike’s Subs, Title Sponsor
The gala featured the debut of Billy Dawson’s new song “Gold Ribbon” composed just for Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer
Jackie Thornton and her daughter, Jenice Dunayer, co-chairs of the Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer (WOKC) 40th Anniversary Celebration Gala, pulled out all the stops for the event - one that was two years in the making. Originally slated for Fall 2020, the plans were revised because of the COVID-19 pandemic and moved to Spring 2022. That did not deter this dynamic mother/daughter team and their devoted committee, pivoting to make this landmark anniversary year a reinvigoration of dedication and promise to Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer, its Warriors (children fighting cancer), grant recipients, and supporters.
The Arts District Mansion was transformed into a gallery of magnificent towering arrangements of red roses in golden urns with guests walking the red carpet and entering the reception area through a hallway draped in regal red throughout. The evening began with a VIP reception which included guests such as Honorary Chairs Peter and Tatiana Cancro - Peter is Founder and CEO of Jersey Mike’s Subs, the event’s Title Sponsor; Cindy Brinker Simmons, Founder of WOKC and also a Patron Presenting Sponsor; John Dankovchik, Interim Executive Director; Lone Star Monarchs, Corporate Presenting Sponsor; and Patron Presenting Sponsors The Benevolence Fund and Karee and Greg Sampson.
WOKC Warriors joined their parents, supporters, sponsors, and underwriters in the VIP reception which featured fun and kid-inspired passed appetizers. When the time came to open the doors for the gala, the Warriors escorted guests down the red-carpeted Warrior Tribute Walkway, which featured photos from the events they had enjoyed throughout the year with WOKC supporters.
The gala celebration began with emcee Karen Borta, CBS11-KTVT award-winning anchor and journalist, welcoming the crowd and a heartfelt welcome from the co-chairs, as they pledged their continuing determined stand in the fight to eradicate children’s cancer. After the invocation from Blake Holmes, Watermark Church Elder and Lead Pastor, guests enjoyed a three-course dinner of a delicious bibb lettuce salad, a main course of salmon with crusted seeds, roasted beef tenderloin, vegetables, and dessert of triple chocolate trifle.
Cindy said, “Peter Cancro has created a culture of giving within Jersey Mike’s that is truly unparalleled. The company’s annual Month of Giving in March is an amazing fundraising campaign that culminates in a nationwide event, Jersey Mike’s Day of Giving, on the last Wednesday of the month when 100% of the day’s sales, not profits, are donated to local partner charities. Since 2010, Jersey Mike’s has contributed $67 million nationwide to over 200 charities. Incredible! Additionally, since 2010, WOKC has been the recipient of $1.9 million from Jersey Mike’s Month and Day of Giving. Now, this most glorious donation of $1,000,000 just takes my breath away! WOKC is so profoundly grateful. Jersey Mike’s is such a remarkably generous company that just happens to make the best subs in the stratosphere!”
Dalton Stewart, Jersey Mike’s North Texas area director and franchisee, created the Month of Giving and Day of Giving in 2010 with Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer’s Founder’s Forum member Mary Dowling. Jersey Mike’s adopted this initiative as the company’s national fundraiser in 2011. In addition to that ongoing generosity to WOKC for over a decade, Jersey Mike’s donated $100,000 as Title Sponsor for the gala.
Cindy announced the Buddy Bags will now have the Jersey Mike’s Subs logo stitched on each one, together with the WOKC logo. Buddy Bags are expanding to hospitals statewide in 2022 and nationally in 2023. Buddy Bags are rolling suitcases filled with over 30 comfort items including toiletries, electronics, games, and entertainment items given to children with cancer admitted to WOKC partnering hospitals for overnight stays.
Peter remarked that Jersey Mike’s raised $20 million for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games and Special Olympics State Programs during the sub sandwich store’s 12th Annual Month of Giving in March, taking a brief sidestep from the annual local community fundraising campaign. Peter, to the surprise of everyone in the room, presented a check for $1 million to WOKC, as a totally stunned Cindy graciously accepted, surrounded by a rousing round of standing applause and cheers.
Eight live auction packages were presented. The signature live auction item was the Grand Slam in the Big Apple package for four, donated by Peter and Tatiana Cancro, with the rare opportunity to watch the 2022 US Open Tennis from elite status seats, including the Men’s Semifinal matches and the coveted Men’s Final. The package also included a round-trip flight in a Gulfstream G550, a four-night stay in one of the luxurious Edwardian Suites at The Plaza Hotel, and multiple popular dining and entertainment experiences while in New York. The Cancros also generously donated a second live auction item for four featuring a three-night stay in one of the spacious Edwardian Suites at The Plaza Hotel, tickets to the 2022 US Open to watch the Women’s Final, and additional outstanding dining and entertainment experiences during the trip.
A video presentation given by Dr. Daniel Bowers, Professor of Pediatrics and Neurological Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical School, described the significant impact of WOKC in helping Children’s Medical Center Dallas propel its pediatric cancer program to national prominence over the last four decades.
To the delight of the guests, multi-talented country music singer-songwriter and WOKC supporter Billy Dawson, accompanied by cellist Caleb Yang, presented a stirring acoustic performance to debut his new song, “Gold Ribbon,” co-written with legendary national country music songwriter Rodney Clawson, especially for the gala. The gold ribbon is the internationally recognized awareness symbol for childhood cancer.
The evening was topped off as everyone filled the dance floor to the tunes of the Jordan Kahn Orchestra.
Platinum Sponsors included Joanne Slicker Mulcahy, Rosemary Haggar Vaughan Foundation, Beth and Stefan Noe.
Gold Sponsors included the Dunayer Family Foundation, Krypton Solutions, The Jerry B. Heftler Family, Morning Star Family Foundation, Mrs. H. Ross Perot, Bill Slicker, Laura Worsham.
Silver Sponsors included Alternative Wealth Partners, Brenda Brinker Bottum, Holly and Doug Brooks Family Foundation, Fran Cashen/Jolie and Bart Humphrey, Children’s Health Foundation, Drs. Proshad and Guy Efune, FBFK, Cindy and Chuck Gummer, Jeanne and George Lewis, Vicki and Brian Miller, Linda Owen and Walt Barnes, Mary and Mike Poss, Ranparr, Inc., Selections Promotional Products, Marianne and Roger Staubach, Paula and Bob Strasser, UT Southwestern Medical Center/Southwestern Medical Foundation, Liz and Eric Van den Branden.
Table Sponsors included BlockMetrix, Mary Dowling and Family, Improve Growth, Music Street Frisco, Soma Partners, Jane and Don Weempe, Connie and Randy Yates. Underwriters included Guest Gifts: Communities Foundation of Texas; Food and Beverage: The Estess Family; Venue: Greg Sampson/Gray Reed; Valet: Tim Schutze/Allie Beth Allman & Associates; Warrior Tribute Walkway: Lynn, Jim, and Will Stroud.
To learn more about Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer and its programs, and how the community can support or volunteer for this vital organization, visit the website at www.wokc.org
About Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer (WOKC):
Wipe Out Kids' Cancer (WOKC) is a Dallas-based nonprofit organization founded in 1980 by Cindy Brinker Simmons in memory of her mother, the late great tennis champion Maureen "Little Mo" Connolly Brinker, who died of cancer at age 34. For four decades, WOKC has been dedicated to eradicating childhood cancer by funding innovative research, education, and treatment.
The mission of WOKC is to work relentlessly for the day when cancer is no longer a threat to any child.
Additionally, WOKC has provided hope to children diagnosed with cancer and their families through multiple social engagement programs ..."medicine for the soul" as parents have described. WOKC has funded $7 million in seed money for its novel pediatric cancer research projects, which have yielded $22 million in additional grant money over these past 40 years.
CHILDHOOD CANCER REALITIES: Reported by the National Institutes of Health
* Cancer is the #1 cause of death by disease in children
* 45 children are diagnosed each day with cancer (1 every 30 minutes) in the U.S.
* 1 out of 8 children will not survive
* Approximately two-thirds of those who survive will have long-lasting chronic health conditions as adults
*Photos by Danny Campbell, Priscilla Dasilva and Nichole Meyer.