Five Frisco children walk runway for cancer awareness

April 21, 2017 - Star Local Media

Bennett Towbin sits with Roger Staubach, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback. Photos courtesy of VGS Marketing

The annual Children’s Cancer Fund Banquet gives kids going through treatment a brief diversion from their battle with cancer. The event, expected to raise more than $1 million, will feature five Frisco children, among other area kids, turned runway models for the evening.

“The Children’s Cancer Fund originated through parents of children going through treatment at Children’s,” said Jennifer Arthur, CCF executive director of development. “They wanted an opportunity for those kids to just get a break from their day-to-day struggles of treatment and being at the hospital.”

The gala will feature children who are undergoing treatment for cancer at Children’s Health in Dallas. The children, “models” for the fashion show, are escorted down the runway by Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, as well as other celebrities and sponsors. Frisco is represented by five models: Flick Blevins, 6; Makenna Rodolph, 9; Rylee Totman, 5; Bennett Towbin, 5; and Gabriel Triguis, 10. 

Diagnosed with T-Cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of 3, Flick Blevins, now 6, is a kindergartner at the Coram Deo Academy. He put it best when asked why he is excited to walk:

“Well, because it’s a big deal,” Flick said. 

“I just picked up a jacket that they tailored, and it’s black with golden buttons. I’m also going to wear a bowtie,” he added later.

All participants have to be at least 5 years old. The Blevins applied for Flick to model last year, and he was accepted. Unfortunately, he contracted a parasite called cryptosporidium three months before the show. He had to have his gallbladder removed and stay isolated at home for 11 months. His mom, Kcee Blevins, said he was disappointed when it didn’t work out last year, but he’s extremely excited for this year. Additionally, Flick’s last treatment was on April 10, so the gala will also serve as a celebration.

“We had a big fiesta and we called it ‘Chemo Finito,’” Kcee said. “We had friends come, we had a DJ and he took his last dose in front of everyone.”

Makenna Rodolph, 9, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of 7. She is a third-grader at McSpedden Elementary. Makenna is not a stranger to runways, as she has modeled in a fashion show for the Legacy chapter of Children’s Medical Center. 

“We always like doing things, especially local to Dallas, where you can fundraise and all of your support goes to kids at Children’s,” said Jennifer Rodolf, Makenna’s mom. “We’re happy that we get to help out.

Makenna said she is looking forward to walking with her escort, Miss Texas Caroline Carothers.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “It gives me a chance to meet a whole bunch of new people, and my experience is going to be great.”

Diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at the age of 4, Rylee Totman, now 5, is a kindergartner at Tadlock Elementary. Her mom, Danielle Totman, said that while Rylee is excited, the full impact of celebrities and fundraising hasn’t sunk in for the 5-year-old.

“It’s a chance to put on fancy clothes and to dress up,” she said. “I feel like there’s a lot of sad, scary things that you go through in this whole journey, and this is one of those fun things.”

Bennett Towbin, 5, was diagnosed with Pre-B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of 2 ½. He is in pre-K at Levine Academy.

“I’m excited to walk out on that runway,” he said. 

His mom Laynie Towbin said he talks about it nonstop. 

“To actually pick out the outfit, the kids got to go to Dillard’s and they gave you $100, and the kids got to pick out whatever they wanted to wear in the show,” she said. “Granted, Bennett just got the first thing he saw, but for a girl, how fun to try on dresses. And then you get to keep the outfit when the show is done.”

Gabriel Triguis, 10, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at the age of 9.  As of press time, he was unavailable for comment. He is a fourth-grader at Bledsoe Elementary and has an older sister and a dog named Charlie. He enjoys playing football, soccer and video games and wants to be a football player when he grows up. Tom Brady is his hero because “he is awesome and could be one of the best quarterbacks ever.” He is most excited to meet Troy Aikman at the gala.

Proceeds from the gala  go to Children’s Cancer Fund to support pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at Children’s Medical Center. Since 1982, Children’s Cancer Fund has donated almost $8 million to this cause. The Children’s Cancer Fund spring event is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser for pediatric cancer. Throughout the year, the organization hosts a variety of other events to continue fundraising and giving children with cancer a small break from their battle.

This year, the event is themed “Broadway Nights and Runway Lights.” This marks the 29th annual fundraiser of its kind, but it was not always such a large production. 

“The event has grown,” Arthur said. “The Children’s Cancer Fund event used to be a luncheon. This is the 29th year for the event, and it has grown drastically since the days of the luncheon. It’s grown from the amount of people that attend, it’s grown from the fundraising perspective and it’s grown from the community involvement as well.”

Tonight’s gala will begin at 6 p.m. with a champagne reception, while the main event, dinner and the fashion show, will kick off at 7:15 p.m. at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, 2201 N. Stemmons Freeway in Dallas.

Individual tickets are $300 or $2,750 for a table of 10. Contact Children’s Cancer Fund at 972-664-1450 or visit for reservations and more information.


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