Fundraiser supports pediatric cancer in South Texas

March 1, 2013

Actor Diego Boneta, top right, helped raised $90,000 for the Vannie Cook Children’s Cancer Clinic in South Texas at the 2013 Radiothon.
Actor Diego Boneta, top right, helped raised $90,000 for the Vannie Cook Children’s Cancer Clinic in South Texas at the 2013 Radiothon.

Those listening to the radio in South Texas on Feb. 16 expecting to hear their favorite music instead tuned in to the Vannie E. Cook Children's Cancer and Hematology Clinic 2013 Radiothon.

Broadcast from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on several Rio Grande Valley radio stations, the fourth annual Radiothon raised money to support the Vannie Cook Clinic's efforts to provide leading pediatric cancer treatment to children in the region.

Radio listeners and those attending the event live at the R Communications studio in McAllen heard stories of hope and inspiration from patients and families seeking treatment at the clinic.

State-of-the-art center

The Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children's Cancer and Hematology Clinic, a joint effort of the Vannie E. Cook Jr. Cancer Foundation in McAllen and Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Cancer Center, opened in 2001 to provide state-of-the-art care and treatment for children of South Texas with cancer and blood disorders. Before the clinic opened, these children would have had to leave the area for the life-saving treatments, often splitting families with one parent staying at home and the other traveling with the sick child.

Actor Diego Boneta with two young patients from the Vannie Cook Children’s Cancer Clinic.
Actor Diego Boneta with two young patients from the Vannie Cook Children’s Cancer Clinic.

In addition to diagnostic services and leading edge therapies for pediatric cancer, the Clinic provides other programs vital to positive outcomes for children and their families including a psychosocial support program, long-term survivor program, in-house laboratory services, a cancer genetics clinic and childhood cancer epidemiology and prevention research.

Patient perspective

One patient named Jonathan exclaimed at the Radiothon, "I'm from Weslaco, and it's so great that I don't have to drive far to get treated. I'm closer to family and friends and it's great!" Another patient, Valeria, also shared her experience. "I've been a patient for a year and a half. They have been great. I have a little sister and a younger brother with autism. If it weren't for the clinic, my family would be apart, and we all need to be together."

One of the highlights of Radiothon was a visit from Diego Boneta, an actor and longtime advocate of the Vannie Cook Children's Cancer and Hematology Clinic. He spoke with many patients, making them smile and brightening their day. In addition, he went on the radio encouraging people in the area to donate.

"McAllen is my second home, and it is so important to give back to the community," he said. "The patients are my motivation. I tell everyone to come check out these kids, to see how strong they are, how they are fighting, and to see how their donations truly help," he continued.

His passion for this cause transmitted through the airwaves and helped the Vannie Cook Clinic raise more than $90,000.

Anakaren Gomez, a senior at Texas A&M University majoring in international communications, contributed this story. She is from Laredo, Texas.