Tracy’s Kids: Framing Art Therapy in the Context of Pediatric Communication

ArianaMany children who are battling cancer and blood disorders must undergo medical procedures that are confusing or create anxiety, and they don’t always know how to express their feelings. The art therapy program in oncology and hematology at Children’s National, which is funded by Tracy’s Kids, meets a child’s emotional needs by providing a healthy, creative, and fun outlet that helps them process their experience.

With $1.6 million in funding and supplies donated by Tracy’s Kids, the program features an art therapy room and five full-time art therapists. Five hundred patients participate each month in art therapy activities at Children’s National’s Centers for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Washington and Northern Virginia.

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Boxing Champs Encourage Kids to Keep Fighting

Boxing legend Roberto Duran with a young fan.

Kids at Children’s National got a special visit on Nov. 10 from international boxing champions Alicia Ashley, Demarcus Corley, Roberto Duran, Karl Dragan, Heather Hardy, Mark Johnson, Juan LaPorte, Mia St. John, and Chazz Witherspoon. Thanks to the Hope for Henry Foundation, Fight for Children, the World Boxing Council, and World Boxing Cares, the nine boxers visited the hematology/oncology unit and brought smiles to the children’s faces as they posed for photos, signed autographs, and passed out child-sized boxing gloves. See more photos.

The visit was part of a week of events leading up to Fight For Children’s annual fundraiser Fight Night on Nov. 13. Dr. Kurt Newman, president and CEO of Children’s National, serves on the board of Fight For Children, which works to ensure that low-income children in Washington can receive a great education and stay healthy. Dr. Newman welcomed the boxers and other guests and thanked them for making it an exciting day for the children, families, and staff. “What makes a health system like Children’s National so special are the things we can do for kids like this only because of the commitment, generosity, and creativity of partners like those represented here today.”

He added, “There’s a big similarity between the boxing — the fighters who have had to overcome a lot to get to the championship level — and these kids and their families who are fighting against hardship. When they get together you can just feel the bonds and it’s just wonderful to see.”

Dr. Newman specifically thanked Hope for Henry Foundation and its founder Laurie Strongin for all the organization has done to make patients’ lives a little brighter. Since it was founded in 2003 to honor the legacy of Henry Strongin Goldberg, who died at age 7 of a rare disease, Hope for Henry has served more than 12,000 children in Washington, DC, and around the country. Hope for Henry improves the lives of children with cancer and other serious illnesses by providing special gifts and programs to entertain and promote comfort, care, and recovery.

Read “Boxing Champs Visit Cancer Patients at Children’s Hospital” from WTOP.

Helping Children Worldwide Through Telemedicine

Making World of DifferenceAt a thank-you tea on Oct. 29, 65 loyal Children’s National donors gathered at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., and learned about how Children’s National is making a difference for children around the world.

Craig Sable, MD, Director of Echocardiography and Telemedicine at Children’s National, discussed how philanthropy is helping the telemedicine program reach children regionally, nationally, and internationally. The program uses electronic and telecommunications technology to  serve community hospitals, suburban health centers, inner-city health clinics, hospitals throughout the United States, and international partners across a wide range of pediatric specialties including neurology, genetics, radiology, and surgery.

“Children’s National has partners in 19 countries and 21 U.S. states,” Dr. Sable said. “In just 12 years, we’ve had 13,000 patient consultations and have provided guidance to children’s hospitals globally.” In addition, Children’s National  has advanced distance learning initiatives, sharing knowledge with physicians and students wherever they are. Children’s National collaborates with many countries throughout the world, including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Morocco, Germany, Uganda.

Cutting-Edge Technology Leads to Stimulating Results

dbs frameThe Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Center for Surgical Care at Children’s National is home to one of only two Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) pediatric programs in the country. Led by world-renowned physician Dr. Chima Oluigbo, this surgical treatment enables children with movement disorders such as cerebral palsy and dystonia to gain more control over their bodies.

From the success of the Monte Carlo Night fundraising initiative, the Operating Room (OR) Advanced Technology Fund provided the cutting-edge equipment needed for the complex procedure. Dr. Oluigbo and his team precisely place electrodes in locations of the brain no larger than a pin point. These electrodes, similar to a pacemaker, transmit electrical impulses to areas linked to movement disorders. The treatment provides relief for symptoms such as tremors, rigidity, slowness of movement, and stiffness that do not improve with medication.

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Are You an Insider?

insiderThe Children’s Hospital Foundation has re-launched its e-newsletter, the “Children’s Insider.” The current issue reports on the impact of donations on the community and highlights the Race for Every Child, $124 million in community benefits, partnerships with the Nationals and Redskins, and an inspiring video of Ian, the “comeback kid.”

If you’re not getting this report on how donations are making a difference for children, subscribe to receive these quarterly updates by email.

7th Annual 107.3 Radiothon Raises Money, Awareness for Children’s National

at the seventh annual All the Hits for all the Kids Radiothon! Here is the clip from Fox 5 with DC’s 107.3 morning show team Sarah, Ty, and Mel present a check for $213,000 to Children's National after the all-day All the Hits for All the Kids radiothon.
DC’s 107.3 morning show team Sarah, Ty, and Mel present a check for $213,000 after the All the Hits for All the Kids radiothon.

DC’s 107.3 hosted an inspiring day as they broadcast from the main atrium at Children’s National for the seventh annual All the Hits for All the Kids radiothon on Oct 23. Morning show team Sarah, Ty, and Mel led the charge and were joined by patient families, event sponsors, FOX 5 News, more than 30 volunteers, and thousands of listeners to raise $213,000 for Children’s National. Watch the Fox 5 news clip.

Cancer Survivor Inspires White Hat Gala Attendees

Children's National cancer patient Rylie Richards dances with her father, Kelly Richards, at the second annual White Hat Gala.
Rylie Richards dances with her father, Captain Kelly Richards, at the second annual White Hat Gala.

Rylie Richards, an 8-year-old cancer survivor, may have seemed like an unlikely guest at the second annual White Hat Gala, organized by the cyber security industry. Held Oct. 23 at the Mellon Auditorium, the event featured casino gaming, a silent auction, and live music.

But the 300 guests soon became familiar with Rylie and her story as she joined Chair Paul Innella, White Hat USA Co-Founder David Trout, and several cyber security committee members on stage. There, the audience learned about her battle with leukemia and how Children’s National has supported her and her family.

Afterwards, Rylie helped with the raise-the-paddle auction and encouraged guests to participate in the silent auction. At the end of the evening, the committee announced that the event had surpassed its fundraising goal by raising more than $425,000 — an increase of $100,000 from the 2013 event.

Rylie wasn’t the only former patient who attended the gala. Presenting sponsor Bank of America honored patient care volunteer Austin Lee with the “Bank of America Volunteer Excellence Award.”

The White Hat organization was established in 2004 in the United Kingdom to protect vulnerable children through charitable means. Following this model, White Hat USA was organized in 2012 with the goal of raising money to help children at risk while providing networking opportunities for members of the cyber security community. View photos of the event and watch Rylie’s story.

Video: 2 Sisters. 1 Mountain. Millions of Healthy Babies.

SistersNatalia Luis and Cidalia Luis-Akbar are sisters, businesswomen, and dedicated mothers driven by a goal. As they recently told Kelly Collis and Tommy McFly on the Tommy Show on 94.7 FM, they want to help babies around the world thrive by raising $500,000 to help advance earlier, more accurate diagnostics during high-risk pregnancies and set a new standard of care to give fragile newborns the best chance to survive.

How will they achieve their lofty goal?  One step at a time. With unstoppable determination, on Nov. 20 these two sisters will begin climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world. The 19,341-foot African peak they aspire to reach will serve as a platform to galvanize support so that more babies live to see another day. Watch this video to hear their inspiring story .

“Children’s National is a place where miracles happen every day,” Cidalia said in the radio interview. All funds donated to the campaign, she explained, will support the Fetal Medicine Institute to develop a fetal monitoring system to improve care to newborns and babies in utero.

Cidalia and Natalia were recently profiled in the Huffington Post by Tim Ward, author of Zombies of Kilimanjaro. The sisters told Ward that his book was part of their inspiration to setting the ambitious goal of climbing the mountain. During a hike, Cidalia told Ward, “Natalia and I were talking about your book….and how impactful your journey with your son was….We were asking ourselves, how do we make a difference and leave the world a better place for our children? By the time we returned from our hike we had decided to climb Kilimanjaro and to bring Children’s National Medical Center with us.”

Please support their journey and families in the Washington area and throughout the world by making a donation to their campaign at


The Angel Ball: A Star-Studded Night for Children Battling Cancer

Jho Low w KidsSeveral children who have been treated for cancer at Children’s National had a night to remember at the annual Angel Ball in New York City. The Oct. 20 event raised $3.7 million for the Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research, which has supported the music therapy program at Children’s National. Three former Children’s National oncology patients — Jozlyn, Arabelle, and Jaimin — shared inspirational stories before the star-studded crowd and mingled with celebrities including Jamie Foxx, Natalie Cole, Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, jewelry designer Lorraine Schwartz, and Denise Rich, the president and founder of the foundation.

The event honored special individuals who have made significant humanitarian and philanthropic contributions in support of cancer research, including Jho Low, CEO of Jynwel Capital Limited and director of the Jynwel Charitable Foundation; His Excellency Yousef al Otaiba, United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States and his wife Abeer; Jeff Gordon, four-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion and founder of the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation; and Nile Rodgers, multi-Grammy Award-winning music legend.

Congratulations to the Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation on a successful night, and to the honorees. And thank you for including Jozlyn, Arabelle, and Jaiman in such an exciting event.

Keeping Genetics in Mind: Drawing the Link between Biology and Mental Health

head markedAs a nation, the United States remains challenged in the way we diagnose and treat disorders of the mind and brain, especially in children. Autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, even the after effects of concussion, affect a staggering number of families today.

Twenty percent of all children have a diagnosed mental health or behavioral disorder, yet less than one in five receive treatment. With at least half of adult mental and behavioral disorders beginning in childhood, addressing these conditions early in life can have far-reaching benefits.

With the help of philanthropy, Children’s National is taking on this challenge by establishing a pioneering institute to care for children with conditions of the mind and brain. Children’s National plans to use every means—research, technology, an understanding of the human body—to help children heal and live out their full potential.

The core of this new initiative is a biorepository that will house the genetic and other biologic analysis of patient tissue samples. As with some cancers and other diseases, many mind-brain conditions have a significant genetic disposition. Funded by The Board of Visitors of Children’s National through proceeds from their annual Vintage Affair event, the biorepository will allow physicians and scientists to study the connection between a child’s symptoms and diagnosis and their genetic underpinnings.

Information from the repository will help doctors and parents make more informed choices about a child’s care. Children’s National will be able to refine and develop new mental health treatments targeted to genetic alterations specific to an illness. Most importantly, the institute can offer hope to the children and families who come to us in need of mental health care.