The AHN Foot & Ankle group played a major supportive role as the title sponsor for a first annual childhood cancer charity benefit which was hosted by the Indiana Ballet Conservatory (IBC) on October 4, 2013 and held at the TOBIAS Theatre at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. This special event, called Pointe to the Cure, was originally envisioned and chaired by Dr. Adam D. Perler of AHN, who serves on the board of IBC and featured a special edition of an original ballet call Pulse: Dancing to the Beat of our own Drummer which was created by Indiana Ballet Conservatory's Founding Artistic Director, Alyona Yakovleva-Randall.
The Indiana Ballet Conservatory (IBC) was moved and inspired by the story of young boy named Joey Keller, who despite losing his battle with medulloblastoma on November 18, 2012, launched a movement which emphasizes the selfless service of others in need. Team JOEY, a Heroes Foundation Program, was created to fulfill Joey’s wish of providing donated LEGO® sets to other children who are suffering with cancer, and to raise support and funding of local pediatric cancer research. Profits from this year’s Pointe to the Cure are to be donated to Team JOEY specifically for reseach.
The night started with opening remarks by Dr. Adam Perler who discussed the significance of Pointing to the Cure and how the night represented what is possible when one combines artistic talents with a passion to help others in need. “We are committed to help fund the cure of childhood cancer, honor the true cancer heroes that walk among us, and offer our support to the brave young people who are fighting this disease” stated Dr. Perler. He then elaborated on the Pointe to the Cure vision and purpose of this initiative by stating “because all children deserve the chance to dream, discover, and realize their full potential.” Dr. Douglas Blacklidge, also of American Health Network's foot and ankle group then addressed the audience as a representative of the evening’s title sponsor.
For the night’s special performance, each dancer was paired with a child and/or family who were impacted by childhood cancer and some dancers danced in the memory of children who lost this battle. Following the first act, Tom Zupancic, the evening’s emcee presented IBC’s “Pointe to the Heroes” awards which were created as a vehicle to recognize everyday heroes who work in and around cancer on a daily basis. Five heroes were honored at the event. Vince Todd, Jr. was nominated by his wife after being a 14-year cancer survivor. He went on to found the Heroes Foundation which was the eventual home of Team JOEY. Jinna Brenchner was nominated by the Keller family after making frequent visits to see Joey in the hospital. Madeline Robertson was diagnosed with leukemia a few days after her high school graduation and underwent treatment for a year and a half, all while continuing to go to college. She now works at the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital helping families get through their struggles with childhood cancer. The next award was a shared award between 3-year-old Nolan Wasson and Stayce Woodburn. Nolan is a 100% match for his 7 year old sister, Leah, who is currently battling leukemia and Stayce is the transplant nurse at Riley Children’s Hospital, who oversees the Team JOEY LEGO set donation program and also happens to be childhood friends with Leah and Nolan’s mother.
The last hero was Colts Coach Chuck Pagano who was diagnosed with acute leukemia last year in the middle of the season. Since his return to the Colt’s sideline, Coach Pagano has been very active with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society locally and delivered a riveting account of his battle with cancer last winter which ended with him issuing a challenge for all present to go home and shave their heads to show support of people who are suffering this disease. Dr. Perler was present and noted that while the audience laughed, Coach Pagano’s face suggested that he was not joking. This lead to a special head shaving ceremony where Coach Pagano and his special assistant “barber”, 16 year old Mickey Deputy, also a leukemia survivor shaved Dr. Perler’s head. Coach Pagano admitted that this was the first head-shaving that he had actually performed since issuing this challenge. In addition to Dr. Perler, other heads were shaved during the ceremony, including Virginia Wood, IBCs business director, one of the students who danced the second act bald, and Dr Brian Elliott’s, who is also a part of the American Health Network foot and ankle group and the father of Brynn Elliott who was IBC’s guest solo vocalist. After seeing her father get his head shaved by Coach Pagano, Brynn went on to sing an incredibly moving rendition of “Wind Beneath my Wings”.
Tom Zupancic closed out the special intermission with a high energy auction which featured an original painting by a 7 year old with leukemia, a Mario Andretti signed set of limited edition Formula 1 LEGO series, and a dual signed Colts helmet with Luck and Manning’s signatures on it. The first year event raised over $31,000 for local pediatric cancer research and outreach in Indianapolis.
The Pointe to the Cure event featured kids performing for and helping other kids by combining a talent (like ballet) with a passion to create a “superpower” to help others in an attempt to change the world... one child at a time. The night concluded by everyone in the audience receiving a special Team JOEY LEGO minifigure with encouragement to be moved and inspired by Joey’s story and IBC’s action and to go out and do something selfless in the service of others, regardless of the cause. To find out more about this initiative, donate, or to nominate a hero please visit www.pointetothecure.org.
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