Bella Notte Raises $100,000 for Children with Brain Tumors

Bella Notte PhotoThe Embassy of Italy opened its doors on Feb. 26 to more than 200 people for the 3rd annual Bella Notte (“Beautiful Night”) event, held by Children’s National and the National Brain Tumor Society to celebrate young brain tumor survivors and raise funds to launch a national clinical trial. The event raised more than $100,000 for the trial, which will apply precision medicine to improve brain tumor treatment for children.

Dr. Roger Packer, senior vice president for the Center for Neuroscience & Behavioral Medicine at Children’s National, said, “We are grateful to the National Brain Tumor Society, the Brain Tumor Institute at Children’s National, and our co-chairs, His Excellency Claudio Bisogniero, Ambassador of Italy, and his wife, Laura Denise Bisogniero, for partnering tonight to host this wonderful event. Through innovative research, we hope to help more children survive brain cancer and go on to lead healthy, happy lives.”

Children’s National and the National Brain Tumor Institute have worked collaboratively to care for and cure children diagnosed with brain tumors for several years. Many of the pediatric brain tumor therapies used around the world today were pioneered by Children’s National.

Employees Support Children’s National Mission by Giving $1 Million+

On February 20, campaign leaders attended an appreciation luncheon to celebrate the I Care. I Share. employee giving campaign. Campaign leaders shared tips and tricks on how they increased donations for their departments and discussed how the campaign can be improved for the future. Throughout  2014, employees donated a grand total of $1,065,000 to Children’s National.

The I Care. I Share. campaign celebrated the end of another year of generous employee giving with announcing $1,065,000 raised for Children’s National in 2014. The announcement was made at a campaign leader appreciation lunch on Feb. 20 on the main campus at Children’s National.

The 2014 campaign highlighted how employees make a difference for the kids not only by providing care and medical services to patients and families, but also by creating a healing environment and making Children’s National a home away from home for families. The campaign demonstrated how patients received hope, relief, a friend, a chance to play, a chance to win, and a way home.

“Our employee giving program highlights Children’s National as a leader among its peers,” Dr. Kurt Newman, president and CEO, told the campaign leaders. “It allows us to recruit the best and brightest, it sets us apart when submitting funding proposals, and it engages the employees in our mission.” View photos of the campaign kickoff in November and the appreciation lunch in February.

Fight For Children Paves the Way for Kids to Breathe Easier

Fight For Children  awarded a $140,000 grant to Children’s National Health System to build upon the IMPACT DC Asthma Clinic’s outreach program in order to train daycare providers, early childhood educators and school nurses on asthma prevention and response techniques, specifically focusing on children between the ages of 2 to 8 years.

Fight For Children, a nonprofit focused on improving the quality of early childhood and K-12 education in Washington, DC, awarded a $140,000 grant to Children’s National to build on the IMPACT DC Asthma Clinic’s outreach program. The grant will help train daycare providers, early childhood educators, and school nurses on asthma prevention and response techniques, specifically focusing on children between the ages of 2 to 8 years. Asthma can be a significant barrier to children fully attending and participating in school.

IMPACT DC is an award-winning pediatric asthma program at Children’s National dedicated to improving asthma care and outcomes for children through clinical care, education, research, and advocacy. One of the main goals of IMPACT DC is to lessen the need for emergency room visits and hospital stays by educating patients and families about ways to manage asthma, and connecting them with valuable resources in the local community.

Learn more about IMPACT DC and Fight For Children.

Landon Ice Hockey Players Shave Heads to Raise Funds for Kids with Cancer

Landon Ice Hockey Be Brave and ShaveOn Feb. 7, the Landon Ice Hockey team hosted a Be Brave & Shave fundraiser before their game against Georgetown Prep at the Rockville Ice Arena. Childhood cancer survivor Marco Gutierrez shared his experience about the difficulty of losing his hair through treatment. Players, coaches, and families individually raised money by agreeing to shave their heads. They successfully raised more than $42,000 for the Lexi Speight Professorship in Pediatric Oncology.

Heroes Curing Childhood Cancer Gala Helps More Children Reach the Stars

A Celebration of Funds Raised at 2015 Heroes GalaDespite a historic snowstorm, more than 250 attendees arrived at the Four Seasons Hotel on a frigid Saturday evening for the 7th annual Heroes Curing Childhood Cancer Gala. The event raised over $726,000, more than it ever had. The funds will support cutting-edge research in the fight against childhood cancer so that children not only survive cancer, but thrive throughout their lifetime.

Dr. Kurt Newman, president and CEO of Children’s National, welcomed guests and recognized Paul Adkins, Marco Gutierrez, and Kate Kiernan—three real-life heroes who were treated at Children’s National. They are all now well on their way to becoming young, successful adults, embodying the best of the gala’s theme, “When I grow up, I will be big enough to reach the stars.”

Dr. Newman said, “Through events like the Heroes Gala, we are investing in our physician-scientists to revolutionize the way we treat cancer. It’s not enough to save lives, though of course that’s our first goal. We also need to make treatment less toxic and more precise. As survival rates increase, we have an opportunity – a responsibility – to think of the quality of children’s lives, now and long into the future.”

There were many exciting moments, including a live auction, during which items such as a week in Park City, three nights in Buenos Aires, and an adorable Labradoodle puppy were sold in a flash to the generous crowd. During the “call for cash,” bidding paddles went up in waves, and more than $100,000 was raised in less than an hour. Attendees were also moved by the story of 9-year-old Bennett Younger. Watch a video of his journey.

The crowd finished the evening by rocking to the beat of the band NYX Live. Thanks to everyone who made this monumental night possible, especially the generous sponsors, committee members, and co-chairs Diana and Stephen Goldberg and Caroline and Chris King.

View photos from the night.

Children’s National Honors Al Otaibas for Commitment to Children

prizeChildren’s National Health System has named His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the United States, and his wife, Abeer, as recipients of the second annual Joseph E. Robert, Jr. Prize in Philanthropy, created to honor families who have given back after having a personal experience with the institution.

At a Feb. 24 event celebrating philanthropy and honoring the Al Otaibas, Dr. Kurt Newman, president and CEO, said, “Few people have impacted our organization over the past decade as much as this special couple. To all of us at Children’s National, they are true friends, generous donors, influential partners, and ambassadors (literally). They have done so much to help children in Washington and throughout the world, and their impact just continues to grow.”

Ambassador Al Otaiba played a major role in establishing the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation in 2009, which has advanced surgery, pain medicine, and other innovations for children’s health. The Ambassador and Abeer co-chaired the record-breaking Children’s Ball in 2014, which raised a record $10.9 million, making it the most successful nonprofit fundraiser in Washington’s history. Both the ambassador and his wife have served as partners and advocates for children in the Washington area and around the world.

The Prize is named for philanthropist and business leader Joseph E. Robert, Jr., whose generosity and vision helped transform Children’s National into a medical and research system with international reach. His philanthropic support helped create the Joseph E. Robert, Jr. Center for Surgical Care, and he was instrumental in building support to establish the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation. The first Prize in Philanthropy was awarded to Amy and Bret Baier in 2014.

Fox5: Healing Garden a “Dream Come True” for Staff and Families

Picture2In a Fox 5 TV story about the vision for the Healing Garden at Children’s National, 10-year-old Arabelle Blalack recalled that during her treatment for leukemia at age 5, “I couldn’t really move around anywhere.” Acknowledging that she’s not very good at staying still, she said, “I love feeling the breeze, and looking at all the things in nature.” Watch the Fox 5 story.

Kathleen Gorman, chief operating officer at Children’s National, said the garden will meet the needs of children like Arabelle who need very specialized care, but also want to be outdoors. “We’re very excited. This is really a dream come true for families and staff,” Gorman said. “There’s a lot of scientific evidence behind the healing of being outside, of being in the fresh air, and not only healing, but also relieving pain for our children.” Watch the story to see what the rooftop looks like today.

Visit for information about the garden and how you can get involved.

First Ladies Lend Support for Healing Garden

Healing Garden CN FinalOn Monday, First Lady Michelle Obama and all five living former First Ladies announced their support for a project to transform a gravel rooftop space at Children’s National Health System into a 7,200-square-foot healing garden. Currently in development, the garden will give patients and their families a healthy outdoor space where they can enjoy art, music, and inspiring views of Washington, DC. The garden will be dedicated to the First Ladies of the United States, and Mrs. Michelle Obama, Mrs. Laura Bush, Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mrs. Barbara Bush, Mrs. Nancy Reagan, and Mrs. Rosalynn Carter are serving as honorary chairs of the garden. Read more about the garden and the First Ladies’ involvement.

“I’ve seen firsthand the strength and bravery of the children and families at Children’s National as they take on incredible challenges,” Mrs. Obama said. “The new healing garden will give children and families a place where they can find peace and comfort, while also contributing to their health.”

Kurt D. Newman, MD, President and CEO, “Children’s National has been honored by our relationship with the First Ladies over the years, and their holiday visits have meant so much to children and their families. We are grateful that the First Lady and the former First Ladies are supporting this important project. It’s a fitting tribute to dedicate this inspiring space to them.”

The idea of creating a Healing Garden was inspired by a young patient whose last wish was to go outside — and by the heroic efforts of the Children’s National care team that made her wish come true. The garden will make it easier for sick children to safely go outdoors. The average stay for a child hospitalized at Children’s National is six days. Many children with serious illnesses need to stay several weeks or months.

Children’s National is working to raise $5.53 million for the project, and $1.71 million has already been raised with the leadership of Heather and Andy Florance and the employees of Andy’s company, CoStar Group.  To learn more about the garden and how you can get involved, visit

A Victory Bell Celebrates Healing

carlyglazier.cnmc.01262015-36After undergoing several years of treatment, 9-year-old Rylie Richards on Jan. 26 enthusiastically rang a Victory Bell at Children’s National to celebrate her victory in battling leukemia. The bell was made possible by Rylie’s friends and family, and given to Children’s National so that other children can proudly ring it once they have completed their own cancer treatment. They were inspired by a Victory Bell Rylie saw at Seattle Children’s Hospital, where she was first diagnosed before her family moved to DC.

It was appropriate that Rylie was the first child to ring the bell at Children’s National, with her oncologist, Dr. Anne Angiolillo, parents, Tracie and Kelly, and brother, Evan, standing by her side. After Rylie rang it, two young boys stepped up to ring in their own victories in finishing treatment that very day.

Tracie remarked, “It is truly a gift to be able to watch those children ring the bell. That is a moment in my life I will cherish forever. Giving really is so much better than getting.”

Under the bell is a plate with special casting with this quote:
“Yours is a story so brave and so true…And life is awaiting the hero in you.
-Sunni Chapman

Watch a video clip of Rylie’s milestone moment.

“Dancing After Dark” Raises $170,000+ for Kids

DAD15 CommitteeNearly 600 guests turned out for the 8th Annual Dancing after Dark event on Jan. 24, to sip on fancy cocktails, enjoy delectable desserts, and dance with friends in support of the mission of Children’s National. Together, they raised more than $170,000, a more than 15 percent increase from last year’s event. The evening was hosted by the Junior Council, composed of young professionals, emerging community leaders, and advocates who are dedicated to supporting children’s health through fundraising and volunteering.

“The Junior Council believes in the power of philanthropy to seriously impact others’ lives,” said Clare Bonsignore, co-chair of the Founder’s Reception and former co-chair of the Junior Council. “That’s why we are thrilled to support Children’s National through this annual event. We know this will give more children the best possible chance to thrive.”

Dr. Kurt Newman, president and CEO of Children’s National, made a special appearance, as did Dr. Bear, who danced the night away with guests to the beat of the band Nightsong. Special thanks to all of the sponsors, Dancing after Dark co-chairs Elizabeth Ballas and Paul Grayson, Founder’s Reception co-chairs Clare Bonsignore and Jim McInerney, and Junior Council co-chairs LeeAnn Goheen and John Green. To view photos, visit our Flickr album.