College Park foundation, making huge strides in pediatric cancer research, to host gala

CKc Gold Gala committee members Shereen Tofetti and Michele Nilles with young cancer survivor Cannon Wiggins at last year’s event. Photo courtesy of CKc.

Cannonball Kids’ cancer (CKc), the foundation for pediatric cancer research that lowercases “cancer” to give the disease an inferior status, will be hosting its Third Annual Gold Gala Saturday, March 3, 2018, at 6:30 p.m.

This is the first year the Gold Gala, presented by Westbrook, has a named title sponsor, and that sponsor has a sentimental connection to CKc’s mission.

“The loss of my nephew Nolan to pediatric cancer this past April deeply touched the life of my family, and many of the families that work for Westbrook Service,” said Brian King. president of Westbrook Service Corporation.

In a press release, King said: “[The loss of Nolan] opened our eyes to the ever-growing need for research aimed solely at pediatric cancer. Partnering with CKc as the title sponsor for this year’s Gold Gala is the perfect opportunity for the Westbrook family to align itself with an organization that is committed to research and good old-fashioned grit.”

Last year’s April 1 event, its second year, sold out with 300 attendees and raised $300,000. The money was dedicated to funding three new innovative pediatric cancer trials.

CKc has funded ten research grants and is impacting the lives of 60 children. The foundation raised $1 million in donations by the end of 2017.

The goal for this year’s event aims higher: Raise $500,000 to fund five new pediatric cancer research grants to help give hope to up to 75 children.

“I always believed if CKc could save just one child, it would be worth it. I am thrilled we are now impacting the lives of 60 children,” CKc Executive Director Melissa Wiggins said. “And not only are we creating options for survival, we are also seeing a ripple effect in our own community of people understanding the need for better treatments for kids fighting cancer. I hear people using our tagline, ‘Research is the key,’ and that couldn’t make me happier!”

The gala, designed to educate people and show the gratitude of the CKc team toward the community, will feature a lakeside setting, silent and live auctions, food, and a touching ceremony to honor children who have fought and are still fighting cancer.

Shereen Toffetti of the Gold Gala Committee shared the view that changes must be made within the pediatric cancer world and that CKc is doing just that.

“[I feel] nothing but proud to be a part of such an inspiring and strong team. I knew it would be— Melissa is fierce and has surrounded herself with such strong, passionate people that want to make a change and save these angels … I am honored and humbled to be a part of it,” Toffetti said.

The CKc Foundation won a Change Everything Award in December 2017 for Message of the Year with their No More Options campaign.

You can support the cause. Attend the gala dressed in your best yellow or gold cocktail attire and help to raise funds to support the continuation of research and ensure that children fighting cancer WILL have options. If you are unable to attend, you can support CKc by becoming a sponsor or by donating items to be auctioned.

Tickets for the Third Annual Gold Gala are now available and can be purchased online at


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