CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - One of my favorite photos – Isabella Santos owning the stage at an event we rocked together years ago. Check her eyes. Her heart and sass and spitfire attitude is evident as she takes over the microphone.
The Isabella Santos Foundation is now older than Isabella.
Eight years, versus the seven she lived.
Isabella's mom once said her daughter "died 80 years too early".
Erin Santos has a real way with words. A determined way. There is nothing I could ever begin to write about her daughter she couldn't say 100 times better. I won't try. I just ask you read what Erin has already put out there.
"You know why cancer killed her?" Erin wrote. "Because people are too nervous to ask someone to donate. Things can only change if people take action and MAKE them change."
Erin is raw and honest. Warm and passionate. I'm honored to call her a friend. Her writing shreds my heart. Especially when she tells it exactly like it is about no longer having her daughter.
"I still go [to the gravesite] occasionally. But it's brief and sometimes cold. It has moved toward bringing her new flowers or some silly lawn ornament I stick in the ground. I still put my hand on her name when I'm there so she knows it's me – but as soon as I feel the punch in the gut, I remove it quickly. It's like a bolt of lightning that runs straight to my heart."
I suggest you read the posts.
"Stuart can be a hard nut to crack but she cracked him and she was tangled up in his heart. They talk of this love between a father and daughter in Hallmark cards and I personally never experienced it in my life. But often times I found myself jealous of the love and admiration they had for each other. …He hasn't been the same since she has left us."
Izzy fought neuroblastoma from the age of 2 until 7. Her spirit still fights. Erin and Stuart started "The Isabella Santos Foundation" to help research and find a cure. To date, they've raised over a million dollars.
Take that in.
A million dollars from this Charlotte-based group started by two parents wondering what the hell else they were supposed to do.
The Foundation (www.isabellasantosfoundation.com) is the real deal. Its annual fundraising run is September 26th.
I'll be there. You can sign up here >> www.5kforkidscancer.com
Please, share Isabella's story. Or this post. Or Erin's blogs and the link to get out there with us two weeks from now.
September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness (ACTION) Month.
Erin once told me, "Cancer picked the wrong kid."
I think it's bigger than that.
I think cancer picked the wrong kid, and the wrong protective Mama Bear.