Betty DeGeneres at the Biltmore

“Kids” and “cancer” are two words that the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara hopes one day never to hear in the same sentence. But until that time, founder Nikki Katz and her five-year-old foundation works to ensure that children with cancer receive the undivided comfort of their parents during treatment and recovery.

Author, mother, cancer survivor, and self-proclaimed optimist, Betty DeGeneres, brought her message of love and acceptance to the fifth Annual Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation luncheon on Tuesday Sept 18, held in the Loggia Ballroom at Four Seasons Biltmore; it was attended by more than 175 men and women. Betty DeGeneres, sometimes best known as Ellen DeGeneres’s mother, was on hand to sign her book and speak about her 1999 best-seller, “Love, Ellen.” Twenty-five percent of the proceeds of the sale of the books, provided by Tecolote Book Shop, went to the foundation. The audience was welcomed by Leslie Bisno , Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation Program Director, Nikki Katz, and the foundation’s new executive director Marni Rozet.

Some of the services provided by Teddy Bear include financial cost-of-living assistance and planning, parent support groups, care packages to parents when the child is in hospital, hotel accommodations during an emergency or an extended hospital stay, organizing activities for kids to give them a break from constantly thinking about their treatment, automobile donations, storytellers, body- and mind-strengthening, and, in the most tragic instances, assisting families with funeral arrangements.

Additional remarks were made by Dr. Daniel Greenfield, Director of Pediatric Oncology at Cottage Hospital, and Jeff Zamora, whose heart-breaking but inspiring testimonial moved everyone in the room; his son has been battling cancer and has been receiving help from the Foundation. A musical performance and take-home CD was provided by vocalist Rebecca Solodon.

Committee members who helped make this event so successful included: Rosalind Amorteguy, Debbie Kass, Robyn Bartling, Jennifer Kinsella, Janice Caesar, Dr. Katharine Hagen, Tina Datta, Celeste Scheinberg, Ron Goeshl, Kelly Simmons, Carrie Haffner, and Karen Van Horn.

For more information on the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, you are invited to call 805-962-7466, or go online to:

Hope Cure Life for Breast Resource Center

With kids back in school, moms (and some dads) went back to work raising profiles and money for two non-profits that serve and support families going through cancer therapy.

On Saturday September 15, 2007 Daryl Stegall and Pamela Massey co-chaired “Cocktails in a Secret Garden,” the annual fundraiser to benefit the Breast Cancer Resource Center, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. The BCRC provides support to local breast cancer patients from its lending library, educational programs, and special daily services.

In keeping with the garden theme, Dani Hahn, owner of Rose Story Farm in Carpinteria, helped the committee transform the already beautiful hilltop ocean-view Montecito site into a floral wonderland. Several intimate outdoor seating arrangements, anchored by rugs and colored glass candelabras, greeted over 300 guests.

Music was donated by the Roberto Flamenco Duo and Flamenco dancer Christina Villalobos, Roberto’s fiancée, who had lost her mother to cancer. Food was provided by Ernie Price Catering; wines were donated by Kristine and Christopher Wattle of Wattle Creek, and Boomerang Vodka was being served as guests milled around the terrace filled with silent auction items.

Matt MCallister, emcee and auctioneer for the day, welcomed and introduced Executive Director Silvana Kelly, who bestowed longtime BCRC volunteer and Board Treasurer Evie Sullivan with the Dorothy Shea award for her philanthropic contributions. The award came with an original Corinna Gordon necklace from Spenderella. BCRC client and breast cancer survivor Hannah-Beth Jackson spoke to the crowd and described her experience at the BCRC as a ‘warm soft hug” and encouraged attendees to dig deep in their pockets so that “this valued community resource” can continue to thrive.

Among the live auction items was a snowboarding event in Sun Valley Idaho for four, complete with Sims Snowboards and outfits and private lessons from Tom Sims, inventor of the snowboard and former world champion snowboarder. Marla McNally Phillips donated her Padaro Lane beach house for a week. World renowned surf photographer and editor of Surfers’ Journal, Jeff Devine, whose mother died of breast cancer, offered up an evening cocktail party for 20 people that included a private photo safari slide show of his work accompanied by his commentary and signed books. Montecito jeweler-designer Daniel Gibbings designed a special piece for the live auction: a one-of-a-kind 18K-gold necklace, which turned out to be a larger diamond-encrusted version of the piece Daniel had created for the BCRC last year. The necklace is engraved with the BCRC logo and inscribed with the words, Hope Cure Life.

If you’d like to donate, volunteer, or learn more, you are invited to call the Breast Cancer Resource Center at 805-569-9693, or online at: