Angels and Teddy Bears

On Wednesday October 8 at 11 am the warmth of the sun as it reflected on the big blue sea was no match for the warmth and love being generated by over 300 friends and supporters of The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation who gathered at the newly renovated Four Seasons Biltmore Coral Casino ballroom and patio for its 3rd Annual Fall fundraising and childhood cancer awareness raising luncheon. The TBCF’s mission is to ensure that children with cancer receive the undivided comfort and attention of their parents during treatment and recovery. They achieve this by providing middle- to low- income families with financial aid and supportive services thereby allowing parents to focus on their children.

The program included a silent auction set up on the patio as guests arrived with over 125 items ranging from golf vacations at Ojai Valley Inn, dinners at local eateries, wine, jewelry from Pearls of Wisdom, doll baskets by Nina Terzian, skincare items from Skin Resolutions, David Roth photography, a evening of fashion at Susan Pitcher’s Dressed boutique on CVR, brunches at Four Seasons, to name just a few, all generously donated by local businesses.

At noon the guests were seated as Marni Rozet, executive director of the Foundation welcomed the audience and introduced the Caesar Family, philanthropists, and activists of the Foundations programs. Tom and Janice, Gary and Jennifer and Darren and Luann. Featured speaker was Beverlye Hyman Fead, Legislative ambassador and Hero of Hope for the American Cancer Society and her ten-year-old granddaughter Tessa Mae Hamermesh, a fifth-grader from Los Angeles who co-authored a book with Beverlye, called “Nana, What ‘s Cancer?” Beverlye describes the book as “a healing conversation between a grandmother and granddaughter explaining cancer to children in a non-scary way.” It is being published by the American Cancer Society and McGraw-Hill and will be released early next year. Beverlye’s first book, a critical success locally and nationally ‘I Can Do this: Living with Cancer, Tracing a year of Hope” is a poetic and photo journal of her discovery of cancer and her road to living with the disease.

Founder Nikki Katz spoke of her vision for the Teddy Bear Foundation, which began 5 years ago at Celeste Sheinberg's home with a group of 75 people and how far things have come. She proceeded to introduce some of the key players in the TBCF Family including president Rachael Steidel , luncheon event Chair Debbie Kass who also hosted the VIP receptions for sponsors at her East Mountain Home the night before the event with husband Dan. Others honored included Platinum Sponsors Irma Jurkowitz and daughter Jill Levinson and luncheon committee members.

The final speaker was 14-year-old Melinda Marchiano, whose positive outlook on life inspired the entire audience and brought most to tears, and who generously shared her challenging therapeutic experiences with cancer treatment along with her mom, Lee. Melinda shared stories about her treatment and recovery program, which was aided dramatically by the TLC of the TBCF and the medical staff at Cottage Hospital. According to Melinda the Foundation’s help appeared to her as “Angels dressed as Teddy bears!”

Music was provided by cancer survivor and Teddy Bear Cancer supporter pianist and vocalist Becca Solodon.

For more information about The Teddy Bear Foundation giving and volunteer opportunities, please contact Marni Rozet at, 805-962-7466.