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Texas Children’s Salute to Champions Turns Into a Completely Joyous Romp Thanks to Young Cancer Patients Celebrating Their Recovery

This Fashion Runway Is Packed With Emotion

BY // 10.11.23
photography Texas Children's Hospital

The 12th anniversary of the “Salute to Champions” fashion show and luncheon took a heartwarming turn, not that each of the previous fundraisers for Texas Children’s Hospital lacked any uplifting emotions. This year, however, the traditional coterie of community leaders escorting cancer patients down the runway featured four previous Community Champion couples who were reunited with their young cancer patients, whose good health gave credence to the life-saving work of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Center.

Ken and Mady Kades with Patient Champion Kelsey (Photo by Texas Children's Hospital)
Mady & Ken Kades with Patient Champion Kelsey at the 12th annual fundraiser for Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Center. (Photo by Texas Children’s Hospital)

Joyous! That is the only way to describe the exuberant spirits displayed by the recovered cancer patients. Consider young Landon who was just a little fellow in 2018 when Stephanie and Frank Tsuru led him down the runway in River Oaks Country Club. Five years later in the ballroom of the Post Oak Hotel, his bountiful happiness had the throng of 400 breaking out in joyous laughter and applause.

The Tsurus and the three other couples were luncheon honorees: Mady and Ken Kades escorting Patient Champion Kelsey, Betty and Jess Tutor escorting Patient Champion Avery, and Sharleen and Ron Walkoviak walking the runway with Patient Champion Eden.

Also escorting pediatric cancer patients were Zane and Brady Carruth, Cheryl Byington, Elia Gabbanelli, Kim and Dan Moody, Connie Kwan-Wong, Judge Clarease Yates, Dr. Peter Farrell and Tama Lundquist, Maria Moncada Alaoui, Rania and Ramy MankariousJennifer Sanders, and Susan Peterson.

As this was in part a fashion event, Dillards dressed the youngsters in back-to-school fashions, underwritten by Community Champion JoAnn Petersen. Community Champions selected their ensembles from Tootsies.

Event founders Scott Basinger, Elsie Eckert, Sidney Faust, and Judi McGee reprised their roles as chairs for the 12th consecutive year, which turned out to be exceptional. Proceeds surpassed $500,000 for Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Center at Texas Children’s Hospital, making it the highest-ever grossing “Salute to Champions.”

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Melissa Wilson, Fox 26 morning news anchor and mother of a childhood cancer survivor, served as emcee.

Elia Gabbanelli with Patient Champion Chrishell (Photo by Texas Children's Hospital)
Eliea Gabbanelli with Patient Champion Chrishell at the 12th annual fundraiser for Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Center. (Photo by Texas Children’s Hospital)

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