Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation Exceeds Fundraising Goal

Justin Fox, lead singer of Dishwalla, performs a song with TBCF children, courtesy Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.

Justin Fox, lead singer of Dishwalla, performs a song with TBCF children, courtesy Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.

Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation’s (TBCF) annual Gold Ribbon Campaign and Luncheon was a deservedly huge success. The September fundraising campaign and October 4 benefit yielded $494,000 to benefit TBCF’s education advocacy, emotional support and financial stability programs.

The gathering at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara was a lovely al fresco luncheon and incredibly heartwarming program to celebrate and support the work of TBCF, the only nonprofit organization that provides financial, emotional and educational assistance to families who have a child with cancer in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties. Guests had the opportunity to bid on a unique range of items in a silent auction, including beautiful pieces from Carol Burnett’s cherished silver collection.

TBCF Executive Director Lindsey Leonard spoke about many of the young recipients she had met throughout the year, some who went on to beat their struggle with cancer, others who tragically did not beat the disease. “One thing that everyone here today has in common is the desire to help others,” said Leonard. “Everyone has chosen to give of their time and resources because you know our sick children need you because they are literally fighting for their lives.”

TBCF Encouraging Youth Philanthropy program participants were introduced by the Luncheon’s Premier Sponsor, Earl Minnis. Courtesy Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.

TBCF Encouraging Youth Philanthropy program participants were introduced by the Luncheon’s Premier Sponsor, Earl Minnis. Courtesy Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.

An inspiring group of young philanthropists who participated in TBCF’s Encouraging Youth Philanthropy program—which guides youth from elementary school through college ages through facilitated fundraisers of their choice, from concept to implementation to delivering the oversized check—were introduced by Premier Sponsor Earl Minnis. Some of the youth included: Dayne Carlson, who hosted bake sales, collected recyclables and raised funds through a percentage of his mother’s business income; Lily Groves, the youngest participant at age 8, who hosted a series of lemonade stands in her neighborhood; Isa Mireles & Talia Gerstenfeld, who produced a musical showcase featuring some of the best youth talents in Santa Barbara; Chloe & Griffin Kossen, who hosted a kick-a-thon event at their Hapkido studio; Alisha Mergaliyeva, who sold handmade art on Etsy; Reese Termond, who is organizing a dance showcase at her ballet studio; Ava Schuette, who donated her babysitting money to TBCF; Mia Young & Sarah Thielst, who started the Teddy Bear Club at San Marcos High School and hosted a series of bake sales at football games; Bella, Savannah & Paloma Valenzuela, who hosted a series of bake sales at Vons and at Isa & Talia’s Musical Showcase; and Sylvia Gilbar, Kian & Nica Greene and Sofia Tasca, who all raised funds online using Facebook and Mobile Cause. Together through their heroic efforts, these big-hearted young members of our community raised $18,000.

Attendees also learned about TBCF’s work from a mother, Nicci Carter, whose family was a recipient. She shared a moving account of her experience, which began when her toddler Garhett was diagnosed with high risk neuroblastoma and began treatments at Cottage Children’s Medical Center—ultimately losing his courageous battle at the age of 3. “After our son died,” Carter tearfully recalled, “my husband and I showed up at the funeral home to make arrangements and were told that TBCF would be covering the cost. The organization also provided Christmas that year for our children who had just lost their brother. It came complete with the tree and gifts picked out specifically for each child. TBCF does everything they can to offer support not just for the child battling cancer, but for the siblings and parents too.”

Nicci Carter, TBCF mother from Santa Maria, shares a moving account of her experience with TBCF. Courtesy photo.

Nicci Carter, TBCF mother from Santa Maria, shares a moving account of her experience with TBCF. Courtesy photo.

With TBCF’s mission so vividly exemplified by the Carter family’s experience, the event emcee, Andrew Firestone, presented the opportunity for attendees to Fund A Family through items of descending value, such as a hotel room for a parent to stay near the hospital if they live far away.

The Rudolf Schulte Family Foundation was presented with the Heart of Gold Award, highlighting the Schulte family’s enduring support for TBCF kids and families.

The Rudolf Schulte Family Foundation from Santa Barbara was presented with the Heart of Gold Award, courtesy Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.

The Rudolf Schulte Family Foundation from Santa Barbara was presented with the Heart of Gold Award, courtesy Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.

The Trejos family, who received support from TBCF when Madix Trejos was diagnosed with ganglioneuroblastoma at age 5, was presented the Pay It Forward Award for their ongoing work to raise funds and awareness for local families who have a child battling cancer. Madix is 13-years-old now and doing great!

The Trejos family from Moorpark was presented with the Pay It Forward Award, courtesy Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.

The Trejos family from Moorpark was presented with the Pay It Forward Award, courtesy Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.

Robyn Howard-Anderson was presented with the Humanitarian Award for working in close conjunction with TBCF for more than a decade as the pediatric oncology social worker at Cottage Hospital, and later as the pediatric oncology social worker at Ventura County Medical Center.

Robyn Howard-Anderson (center left) from Ventura was presented with the Humanitarian Award, courtesy Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.

Robyn Howard-Anderson (center left) from Ventura was presented with the Humanitarian Award, courtesy Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.

The Helping Hands Award was presented to longtime friends Tracy Angel and Shannyn Tupper. In addition to serving on committees and coordinating events for TBCF, they started, and have continued to run, a Santa Barbara-North County beneficiary event, Sangria Soiree.

The Helping Hands Award was presented to Tracy Angel (left) and Shannyn Tupper from Santa Ynez, courtesy Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.

The Helping Hands Award was presented to Tracy Angel (left) and Shannyn Tupper from Santa Ynez, courtesy Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.

It would have been difficult to match the feeling of warmth and spirit of giving, were it not for TBCF children coming together to end the program with a joyful song led by Grammy Award-winning musician Justin Fox, lead singer of Dishwalla. Fox had graciously been practicing with the kids, spending time with them in his studio to record the track.

Since its founding in 2002, TBCF has awarded more than $2 million in financial assistance to 2,142 individuals living in the Tri-County Region. For more information or to make a donation, call 805/962-7466 or visit teddybearcancerfoundation.org.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 30, 2018.

Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation Gold Ribbon Luncheon

Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation Honorees Shaun and Carla Tomson, courtesy photo.

Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation Honorees Shaun and Carla Tomson, courtesy photo.

Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation (TBCF) celebrates its Gold Ribbon Luncheon on October 5 at the Coral Casino at Four Seasons Resort, The Biltmore in Santa Barbara. The Annual Gold Ribbon Campaign, held in recognition of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, culminate at this luncheon where community members and supporters gather in support of an imperative cause—supporting children with cancer. The event also honors this year’s Gold Ribbon Luncheon Award recipients.

Andrew Firestone serves as host and honorees include  Shaun and Carla Tomson. The 2016 Santa Barbara Teen Star USA, Jackson Gillies, will perform and there will be entertainment by other youth talent.

“The heartbreak that a family that has a child diagnosed with cancer faces is unimaginable,” says Andrew Firestone. “As a father, I want to help alleviate the financial and emotional challenges that families endure. Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation is one of the most critical organizations in town. Let’s bring together our generous community and raise money to help these brave families and kids.”

This year’s Heart of Gold Award recognizes a couple that has gone above and beyond in giving of their time and talent for the benefit of TBCF and the families served. Carla and Shaun Tomson’s interaction with the families, volunteers, and staff has been genuine and compassionate, demonstrating a huge heart for the cause, say TBCF representatives.

This year’s Humanitarian Award recognizes Cottage Children’s Medical Center, a group that has been dedicated to improving the human condition of TBCF families. Day in and day out, they work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of children who are battling cancer—supporting and contributing to the welfare and well-being of not only the child going through treatment, but their whole family too. The staff members of Cottage Children’s Medical Center are true advocates for youth with cancer and their families and go the extra mile in providing comfort, care, and the resources they need.

This year’s Pay-It-Forward Award recognizes the Krasnoff Family, a TBCF family who has given back to the organization by paying-it-forward. This family, despite the hardships they faced with the loss of their daughter Lexi to cancer when she was just two, have chosen to give back to TBCF by providing support to other families, sharing their personal story at events, and being advocates of the cause.

This year’s Helping Hands Award recognizes Pati Kern, an individual who has fully immersed herself in the cause for more than a decade. Kern has shown outstanding volunteerism and has participated in the inner workings of TBCF by coordinating major fundraising events and creating unique opportunities for our kids within the Moments in Time program. She has shown great support to both the staff and the families and has been a tremendous supporter of the organization ever since the day they were first introduced to her kind heart.

Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation’s September Gold Ribbon Campaign seeks to generate awareness about pediatric cancer and how it affects families; bring attention to the critical role TBCF plays in supporting Tri-County families that have a child who is battling cancer; raise funds to support TBCF’s financial, educational, and emotional support programs; and provide networks for youth with cancer and their families. The gold ribbon is the universal symbol to raise awareness about pediatric cancer. Gold represents a precious metal and the children battling cancer are precious.

The Gold Ribbon Luncheon Event Committee includes Connie Gillies, Erin Griffin, Pamela Gruen, Jamie Hansen, Kathy Kelley, Stephanie J. Noel Kirlin, Corey Lester, Monique Montgomery, Hal Price, Lacy Taylor, Michael Taylor and John Weninger.

This year, TBCF has raised $123,500 of their $300,000 goal during the Gold Ribbon Campaign. The organization is asking the community to “Go Gold” and help kids fighting cancer by making a contribution towards the Campaign. Admission tickets to the Luncheon are available for $150 and raffle tickets are $20, buy five tickets and receive the sixth ticket free! For more information, to purchase Luncheon or raffle ticket(s), or to make a donation, please visit teddybearcancerfoundation.org or call 805/962-7466 today.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on September 28, 2016.

Cocktail Corner: Beer Pairing Dinner at Rodney’s Grill + Seven More Fun Events

Rodney's Grill pairs a four-course tasting menu with hand crafted beers from The Bruery. (courtesy photo)

Rodney’s Grill pairs a four-course tasting menu with hand crafted beers from The Bruery. (courtesy photo)

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Santa Barbara Beer Week is winding down this weekend, but the suds continue to pour around town, including at Rodney’s Grill (at The Fess Parker – A Doubletree by Hilton Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd., 800/879-2929), where executive chef Kirk DeLong believes nothing tastes quite like an ice-cold hand crafted beer to quench summertime thirst.

With that in mind, DeLong promises to take beer to a whole new level with the resort’s  first ever Beer Pairing Dinner complementing a four-course tasting menu with hand crafted beers from Orange County’s The Bruery.  The festivities take place July 26 at 7 p.m.

The Bruery CEO Patrick Rue, who founded the company six years ago, will be on hand to give a brief overview about the signature beer pairings. The Bruery is a boutique craft brewery specializing in barrel-aged and experimental ales.  Founded as a small, friend and family run business in 2008, The Bruery takes its unique moniker from Rue’s family surname.

Rodney's Grill, courtesy Fess Parker a Doubletree by Hilton Resort

Rodney’s Grill, courtesy Fess Parker a Doubletree by Hilton Resort

Chef DeLong will share highlights from his inspired American dishes and the fresh regional produce and ingredients which complement the beers being poured.

The menu, which sounds amazing, includes:

Sea scallop, habanero-red pepper gazpacho, and kiwi-dragon fruit chutney paired with Trade Winds Tripel

Hoisin duck breast, pomegranate risotto, rainbow Swiss chard, and port jus paired with Saison Rue

Sea bass, heirloom tomato, tempura beech mushroom, and saffron-fennel broth paired with Mischief

Hawaiian sweet bread pudding, and Rori’s Artisanal Creamery vanilla bean ice cream, paired with Sucre

This dinner isn’t the first collaboration between the Parker and Bruery brands. “The Fess Parker family have a long time tradition in the wine and hospitality business in Santa Barbara County, and are delighted to be working collaboratively with the family-owned business The Bruery.  The two have worked collaboratively on the release of  ‘Confession,’ a sour- style beer fermented with Riesling grapes that tastes like wine, and is ranked high among beer critics,” says director of sales & business development Beth Olson of The Fess Parker – A Doubletree by Hilton Resort.

Advance reservations for the tasting event are required by calling the resort’s concierge at 805-884-8533 or via open table at Rodneyssteakhouse.com. The cost of the dinner is $79 per person (plus tax and gratuity) with discounts for The Fess Parker Winery’s Wine Club and The Bruery’s “Hoarders and Reserve Societies” members.


Seeing the World Through Bacon-Flavored Glasses, photo by Tyler Moselle

Seeing the World Through Bacon-Flavored Glasses, photo by Tyler Moselle

Coming up this weekend is the always delicious Santa Barbara French Festival, where great food, wine, mimosas, crepes, delicious pastries,  music, dance (including the awesome Moulin Rouge dancers from the Solstice Parade!) —and, of course, the infamous Poodle Parade, all come to Oak Park July 12 and 13 to celebrate Bastille Day and all the things that make the French cultural history so rich.  11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Oak Park, 300 W. Alamar.  Admission is free and the Festival is a non-smoking event.  For more information, email frenchfestival@sbcoxmail.com or call 805/963-8198.

On Monday night (July 14), raise your glass to Babes, Books & Booze and join funny women/authors Jenna McCarthy, Karen Rizzo and Starshine Roshell as they talk about social media over sharing, ungraceful aging, maternal intensity and their new books in what’s sure to be a lively conversation at Municipal Winemakers (22 Anacapa St.) on Monday, July 14 at 7 p.m. The first glass is on the publishers, but be sure to RSVP to info@prospectparkbooks.com.

When you’re in wine country, you can’t pass up the opportunity to taste the best wines around. Luckily, that chance comes easily at the 11th annual California Wine Festival from Thursday, July 17 to Saturday, July 19. Celebrate with gourmet food and live music galore. Raise a glass of red, pink, or white (or all!) to a great weekend by the sea! This always fun festival has multiple events and venues. Call 866/273-4148, or visit californiawinefestival.com complete details.

What goes better than bacon and wine, bourbon and beer? Dare we say, nothing! After an incredibly successful inaugural event last year, Bacon and Barrels is back! From July 18-10, enjoy some of the most delectable bacon dishes from the Central Coast’s best, while mixologists, bacon food trucks, live music, local vendors and a piggy petting zoo make this a weekend you’ll never forget. Saarloos & Sons Field, 2971 Grand Ave., Los Olivos. 805/996-0652, baconandbarrels.com.

Fantastic fermented food will be showcased at Cultivate Events‘ 4th annual Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival on Saturday, July 19. Kimchi, kombucha, kefir, pickles, beer, sauerkraut, wine, cider, cultured vegetables, and sourdough bread galore will take over Fairview Gardens (598 N. Fairview Ave., Goleta), accompanied with talks with fermented foods experts, hands-on how-to demonstrations, artisan fermented foods samples, and the opportunity for all ages to learn about the importance of local, organic, and sustainable agriculture and the fermentation process. The festival runs from 10 a.m.–6:30 p.m. For more information, call 805/722-5324,  or visit sbfermentationfestival.com, where Santa Barbara Seasons’ readers can get a discount to the festival by putting in the word “SEASONS” in the promo code box when purchasing tickets.

For its fourth year, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden‘s Wine and Cheese Botanic Lecture Series is bringing together the local scientific community for talks about Santa Barbara ecology. The July 19 edition of the Lecture Series features Santa Barbara Creeks‘ Supervisor George Johnson and his update on the Mission Creek Restoration Project from 4 to 6 p.m. Johnson will highlight the importance of Southern California steelhead trout in the state’s waterways, particularly Mission Creek. Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards is the sponsoring winery. Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, is located at 1212 Mission Canyon Rd. For more information click here.

Who doesn’t love sangria? The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation sure does. They are hosting the 3rd Annual Sangria Soiree in order to raise money to help families of children with cancer. It is at the Villa at Sunstone Winery at 125 Refugio Rd., Santa Ynez, CA on July 20 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. This event is quickly becoming a favorite of Santa Ynez locals, as guests enjoy sampling of paella from Viva Paella and tapas by Paloma Restaurant. Spanish style flatbreads prepared by The Chef’s Touch are served with cheese platters from Ono Catering.These foods appear alongside tequila and sangria made from wines by Sunstone WineryPalmina Wines and D’Alfonso-Curran Wines. Radio personality Tyler Story hosts this beautiful afternoon, and music by the acoustic flamenco guitar is also present. Not  to mention, several fantastic raffle tickets can be purchased, with prizes such as private cooking classes, a helicopter tour and a spa day. For more information call 805/ 962-7466. Or, buy tickets online here.

Whew!  That’s a lot going and I haven’t even gotten to Fiesta yet. Viva la July! Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on July 11, 2014.

Leslie Dinaberg

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Fast Pitch Santa Barbara Semi-Finalists Announced

Fast Pitch SBFast Pitch SB—a Shark Tank style competition for nonprofits to make three-minute pitches to a panel of judges and a live audience for cash awards, including a $25,000 Judges award and two $10,000 Coaches awards—is off and running.

Social Venture Partners Santa Barbara (SVPSB) has chosen the following semi-finalists out of  a field of more than 100 applications from nonprofits looking to receive personal coaching and communications training from experts in the field:

A Different Point of View, whose mission is to engage, inspire and transform underserved youth using flight lessons as a launching pad.

AHA! is dedicated to the development of character, imagination, emotional intelligence, and social conscience in teenagers.

American Indian Health & Services is committed to empowering our community delivering accessible, socially responsive, and culturally appropriate health care.

Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara places infants and toddlers in loving homes throughout Santa Barbara County.

C.A.R.E.4Paws works to reduce pet overpopulation and keep animals out of shelters in Santa Barbara County.

CASA of Santa Barbara County: The mission of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Santa Barbara County is to assure a safe, permanent, nurturing home for every abused and/or neglected child by providing a highly trained volunteer to advocate for them in the court system.

Family Care Network, Inc. operates family-based treatment programs as an alternative to group home or institutional care for children and youth and  serves over 1,400 children, youth and families annually in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

Girls Incorporated of Carpinteria provides programs for girls 6 to 18 years old that focus on science, math, and technology; health and sexuality; economic and financial literacy; sports skills; leadership and advocacy; and media literacy.

Hospice of Santa Barbara, whose mission is to care for anyone experiencing the impact of life-threatening illness or grieving the death of a loved one.

Just Communities advances justice by building leadership, fostering change, and dismantling all forms of prejudice, discrimination and oppression.

Leading From Within provides leadership development for the nonprofit community offering programs for executive directors, emerging nonprofit leaders, and helping to build the capacity of the nonprofit sector, nurture and sustain committed community leaders, and develop the next generation of engaged and involved citizens.

Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, which advances creativity and inspires critical thinking through meaningful engagement with the art of our time.

Sama Group, a family of impact enterprises dedicated to ending poverty and promoting social and economic justice.

Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, a countywide advocacy and resource organization that promotes bicycling for safe transportation and recreation.

Santa Ynez Fruit and Vegetable Rescue (“Veggie Rescue”) redirects or “gleans” local produce from farms, farmers markets, home gardens, and orchards  and deliver it to charitable organizations and school lunch programs in Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez and Santa Maria—all at no charge.

Sarah House Santa Barbara, which provides a home and end-of-life care for people with low income.

Solvang Elementary School’s Viking Cafe,  a brand new lunch program that is reforming the old school re-heated foods into farm fresh organic fruits and vegetables.

Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, which provides financial and emotional support to families of children with cancer living in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties.

The Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens works to preserve and operate Fairview Gardens, the historic and educational farm in Goleta.

Sanctuary Psychiatric Centers of Santa Barbara has been providing a distinctive continuum of care for mentally ill and co-occurring disorders adults since 1976.

The ten finalists will be announced on May 9.

Those groups will present their three-minute “fast pitch” to a panel of judges at the Music Academy of the West on May 15. There will be a live audience populated with potential investors, donors and community members, as well as satellite voting and viewing locations set up throughout Santa Barbara. 

For more information about getting involved with Fast Pitch SB click here. To read a Santa Barbara SEASONS story about Fast Pitch SB click here.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on March 28, 2014.