Gala Celebrates Sweet Stories of Survival

Twenty-two pediatric cancer patients, ages 5 to 15, will model fashions by Dillard’s and be escorted by celebrities. (Courtesy photos)

When celebrating 30 years of sweet smiles, styles, and stories of survival in a candy-themed wonderland, some young Children’s Cancer Fund Gala models can’t help but think about the food.

“I am very excited to participate in the gala, because I get to cheat on my diet and help other kids with cancer,” 8-year-old Liam Moon said.

The Robert S. Hyer Elementary second grader and 21 other pediatric cancer patients, ages 5 to 15, will model fashions by Dillard’s during the annual event, which is expected to raise more than $1 million to support research and treatment programs at Children’s Health and UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Since 1982, Children’s Cancer Fund has donated over $8 million to the childhood cancer cause.

“This night is all about the kids,” said Jennifer Arthur, CCF executive director of development. “They spend the day getting runway ready and reuniting with their friends backstage, and when the spotlight comes on, you will see some of the sweetest smiles.”

Returning honorary gala co-chairs Roger Staubach, in his 30th year with the gala, and Troy Aikman, in his 21st year, will join other celebrities and sponsors as runway escorts for the young models.

Liam, who enjoys Legos, video games, and all things Star Wars, identifies Dr. Dale Swift as his hero, because “he saved my life.”

Liam Moon. (Courtesy photo)

In March 2017, Liam was diagnosed with an inoperable but treatable brain tumor. He had brain surgery to manage a side effect of the tumor and completed radiation. In October, he had to repeat the brain surgery.

His family is waiting to see how his tumor responds to the radiation and is hoping for no new growth. Parents Laura and William Moon said they are proud of how their son completed five weeks of daily radiation without using anesthesia, which required him to be completely still.

“However, every night, he would cry himself to sleep because it was so hard, and he would say he couldn’t possibly do it again,” Laura Moon said. “But then the next day he would get up and do it all again.”

Find Liam’s personal fundraising page at

He participates in two sports: rock climbing and American Ninja Warrior, and his New Year’s resolution is to grow big muscles. At school, he excels in math and reading, and when he grows up, he wants to be a police officer.

His mother recalled how he recently came home from school with an assignment on perseverance, but was briefly stumped when he had to think of an example of when he had persevered.

“My husband and I stared at each other with wide eyes, thinking back to the brain surgeries, activity restrictions, and all of the radiation,” she said. “After some thought, he said, ‘Well, I did have to work really hard to get over the warped wall obstacle at ninja warrior. I’ll write about that.’ Kids are amazingly resilient.”

30th Gala

What: The Children’s Cancer Fund’s largest annual fundraiser for pediatric cancer.
When: 6 p.m. April 27
Where: Hyatt Regency Dallas
Tickets: $300 per person or $2,750 for a table of 10
Contact: 972-664-1450

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