Los Angeles, CA–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–October 24, 2002–Over 450 friends and supporters celebrated Padres Contra El Cáncer’s significant accomplishments at the organization’s third annual El Sueño de Esperanza Gala and Awards Ceremony, held October 9th in downtown Los Angeles. The announcement of a land acquisition and the reinstitution of a scholarship program further solidified the organization’s position as one of the nation’s leading outreach programs for Latino children with cancer.
“We have much to be grateful for this year,” said Henry Garcia, Padres Contra El Cáncer president. “We are thankful to those individuals and organizations who have endorsed our dream of having an organization dedicated to serving the needs of Latino children with cancer and their families.”
Garcia wiped away tears of joy while he announced that Padres had recently acquired two lots of land for $1.2 million near Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, with current plans to include construction of a state of the art community center for the benefit of economically disadvantaged Latino families whose children are stricken with cancer. Details on the official construction and capital development initiatives are pending at this time.
While the land acquisition is a major accomplishment, Michael Velázquez, CEO for Padres Contra El Cáncer, announced that the organization is set to reinstate the Neil Pineda Scholarship Fund in 2003, with funds benefiting childhood cancer survivors and their siblings. The scholarship is named in honor of 14-year old Neil Pineda, son of Board president Henry Garcia, who lost his battle with cancer in 1988.
“Having a child with a serious illness such as cancer can drastically impact a family’s resources, often limiting them from financially supporting a pursuit for higher education,” said Velázquez. “We want our cancer survivors and their siblings to recognize that their educational success is a top priority not only for themselves, but for the entire Latino community.”
The black-tie ceremony pays tribute to individuals and organizations for their exemplary contributions to the health and welfare of Latino children with cancer and families. This year’s honorees included the late Ruby Oliva Cedillo, wife of California State Assembly Member Gilbert A. Cedillo, and Mark Kenneth Nierman, Chief Operating Officer for Popular Cash Express. “Our honorees have been instrumental in helping us continue to improve the quality of life for Latino children with cancer and their families” said Michael Velázquez. “We are grateful to these civic leaders for believing in our children and for helping us instill hope for a better tomorrow for all of our families.”
According to Velázquez, both Mark Kenneth Nierman and the late Ruby Oliva Cedillo have been strong advocates for the organization. Nierman was instrumental in organizing the successful 58-hour ‘Radiotón de la Esperanza,’ hosted by Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation’s Renán Almendárez-Coello, “El Cucuy de la Mañana.” The radiothon, held March 29-31, 2002 in Los Angeles, raised an unprecedented $1.5 million, by far the single largest fiscal contribution in the organization’s 17-year history. In addition, Ruby Oliva Cedillo, who lost her battle to cancer this year, first learned of Padres Contra El Cáncer’s mission after watching a news story in 2001 about the organization and the subsequent plea for financial support to continue its services. Immediately after seeing the piece on television, she prompted her husband Gilbert A. Cedillo to introduce legislation that would provide assistance for Padres Contra El Cancer’s children and families. As a result of this request, Assembly Member Cedillo rallied support from his colleagues in the California State Legislature and secured a one-time $500,000 appropriation for the program.
Founded in 1985, Padres Contra El Cáncer targets children and families that are economically disadvantaged and predominantly Spanish – speaking. The children and families served by the program have unique needs that are not adequately addressed by mainstream cancer treatment programs. The program’s ability to provide counseling, transportation, social services assistance, and emotional support in a linguistically and culturally – sensitive manner ensures that both children with cancer and their families are provided the resources necessary to effectively combat cancer. For more information visit http://www.padrescontraelcancer.net
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