Last year, the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation helped 180 Central Coast families with children battling cancer. It supported them, financially and emotionally, through the initial diagnosis, during treatment, and into recovery.
One of the recipients was 4-year-old Grace Sandoval. At 18 months, Grace’s parents, Karla and John Sandoval, noticed her displaying odd behavior. Doctors said Grace had a type of cancer called ependymoma, a form of brain tumor, and she was rushed to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for emergency surgery.
At the time, the family was living in Ventura and financially stable. John worked a steady job, while Karla, who was expecting their fourth child, stayed home and cared for the kids. But with Grace’s diagnosis, John was forced to take months off of work, and the family eventually lost their home. Their future was dark and uncertain.
But then a social worker told them about the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation. “That’s when our new story began,” said Karla. “Because of [the Foundation’s] Financial Stability Program, we were able to move into a home in Santa Barbara. We went from feeling hopeless, having no money and no one to call, to having peace of mind and hope again.”
The foundation is in the midst of a fundraising campaign so it can keep paying for hospital stays, rents and mortgages, hotel stays, counseling, tutoring, and childcare for families in need. “It is heartbreaking to learn of a child being diagnosed or passing from this tragic disease,” said director Lindsey Leonard. “During our Gold Ribbon Campaign, we ask our community to join us in providing critical support to local families to help alleviate their financial and emotional burden. There are many ways to help support our efforts.”
Donate online at teddybearcancerfoundation.org, by texting TEDDY to 444999, or by mail at 3892 State St., Ste. 220, Santa Barbara, CA 93105. Or, create a Facebook fundraiser by selecting “Support Nonprofit” when creating a post. Then choose Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation. Volunteers are also always needed.