by Genie Sherman, Arizona
On a cold winter night in 1972, the nominating committee for the Denver Alumnae Chapter met to recruit new officers. After asking a member to chair the West Area Group, she replied “I wish I could, but I can’t.” That very day, her 5-year-old daughter, Lisa, had been diagnosed with leukemia at Children’s Hospital Colorado Cancer Center. The members asked, “What can we do to help?” As it turned out, there was a lot they could do.
At that time, there were no events benefiting Children’s Colorado’s Cancer Center, and the hospital needed safe, reliable, volunteer blood donors. This little legacy and her plight became the focus of the Denver Alumnae Chapter, whose philanthropy became Children’s Colorado’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (CCBD). Immediately, the chapter teamed up with the American Cancer Society and held three state-wide volunteer blood donor recruitment campaigns in five years. As a result, all Colorado hospitals solely utilize volunteer donors. Denver Tri Delta members volunteered not only as blood donors, but also worked in Children’s Colorado’s Blood Donor Center, scheduling and interviewing donors for many years.
The first luncheon/fashion show fundraising event entitled “It’s A Child’s World” was held in the spring of 1973 and grew to become the largest event benefiting Children’s Colorado’s CCBD. Funds raised during the 42-year run of “It’s A Child’s World” created a directed endowment at Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation. With subsequent successful events, the Endowment grew to $2 million in 2015,and has continued to touch thousands of lives!
At Tri Delta’s 1974 Convention, the Denver Alumnae Chapter became one of the originators of Tri Delta’s philanthropic focus on children’s cancer. Lisa’s mother said, “Lisa’s life was like a pebble thrown into a pond, and the ripples continue to spread and get larger.”
The mission of Denver’s Tri Delta Endowment is to ensure the perpetuation of training, treatment, research, fellowships and program development at Children’s Colorado’s CCBD. Today, annual projected distributions of $100,000 are used for clinical care, Wellness Team programs, teen-young adult activities and patient/family support services.
Children’s Colorado has been a national leader in cancer treatment and research since the late 1960’s. Each year, 2,200+ cancer patients from birth to age 25 receive care and medical treatment here. Children’s Colorado’s CCBD is the only facility in the six-state Rocky Mountain region offering a complete range of pediatric oncology medical services and research programs and is rated a top 10 U.S. pediatric cancer center by U.S News and World Report.
Children’s Colorado counts families as part of the patient’s care team. This approach is designed to support kids, not only medically but physically and emotionally through programs that Tri Delta’s fundraising makes possible. The CCBD “Siblings Video” is one of those programs.
This “Siblings Video” depicts the challenges that siblings of pediatric cancer patients encounter and has led to national presentations and education. Children’s Colorado’s CCBD Wellness Program Director Robert Casey, Ph.D. wrote, “The Denver Tri Delta Alumnae Chapter has been one of the most dedicated and longstanding supporters of psychosocial services in the CCBD. Their generosity, along with their ability to understand a problem and willingness to find a solution, resulted in the development of the ‘Siblings Video,’ an intervention for siblings of pediatric cancer patients that has been disseminated internationally.”
Today, funds from the Tri Delta Children’s Endowment also support the CCBD’s social workers. Dr. Casey believes, “Children diagnosed with life threatening illness such as cancer face a range of physical and psychosocial problems throughout the course of their treatment. Denver Tri Delta funds support a social work staff tasked with assessing and treating the emotional challenges faced by so many of our CCBD patients and families. Given that social work services are not reimbursed, the Tri Delta endowment is vital to the work that is done each and every day.”
Denver’s Spring 2018 philanthropy event, “Toast with Tri Delta,” was filled with wine tasting, wine making tours, music and a large silent auction. Proceeds from the event, with memorial and patron donations, raised $18,400 for the Denver Alumnae Chapter’s Children’s Cancer Endowment.
The event’s special speaker was Children’s 10-year-old CCBD Ambassador, Maya. Maya’s blood disorder (HLH) is so rare and unique, doctors are charting a new course of treatment. Her case is like no other in the world,and her story will write the book on her disease. Another event highlight was the remembrance of Mary Welch Mahoney and her life. She was celebrated by her dear Theta Lambda sisters, the 1979 class at Colorado State University.
According to Children’s Colorado Foundation’s former Director of Finance, Tony Troxell, “Over the years, the Tri Deltas have been wonderful partners and supporters of Children’s Colorado. Their foresight in establishing The Tri Delta Children’s Cancer Endowment and continual focus on raising money for it has been amazing to watch. They truly exemplify how a group of volunteers dedicated to a cause can make a significant, immeasurable impact in the lives of children and families now and for generations to come.”