Lantana Girl Uses Any Platform She Can To Advocate For Childhood Cancer Patients

April 27, 2017 - The Leader

Sadie Keller is escorted by former Dallas Cowboy Roger Staubach during the Children’s Cancer Fund Gala, which took place April 21.

Sadie Keller recently got the chance to meet some local celebrities.

During the Children's Cancer Fund Gala, she met Miss Texas and some of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. And to top it off, she was escorted down a fashion show runway by former Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach.

“He was really nice and funny,” said the Lantana 9-year-old. “I felt special getting to walk with him.”


But Sadie herself is quickly becoming a rising star for her efforts in raising awareness about childhood cancer and pushing for more funding.

Sadie was one of the featured models and artists at the gala, which took place April 21 at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas. “Broadway Nights and Runway Lights” was the theme for the annual event that raises money for pediatric oncology research and treatment programs.

Sadie was chosen to participate in the event for her efforts in helping others. Sadie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic Leukemia when she was 7 and has spent the last two years in treatment.

During that time, she learned a lot about the disease and the treatment process. One thing became clear – she didn't want others to go through what she has gone through.

Soon after her diagnosis, Sadie began making videos that explained the treatment process. She posted those on YouTube for other children with cancer to see.

“I wanted to tell them what they should expect on their first week when they're diagnosed so that they wouldn't be afraid,” Sadie said. “I want them to be strong.”

Sarah Keller, Sadie's mother, said this was the beginning of Sadie’s mission, which soon grabbed the attention of Truth 365, a grassroots film and social media campaign that gives a voice to children fighting cancer.

“YouTube started her having a voice,” Sarah said. “Truth 365 contacted her through the videos, and it gave her a larger platform to use her voice.”

Sadie’s involvement with Truth 365 soon got her connected with U.S. Congressman Michael McCaul, co-chairman of the Childhood Cancer Caucus. In 2015 she was asked to attend CureFest, a rally hosted by Truth 365 that takes place at the National Mall in Washington D.C. It includes a march to the Capitol, performances and guest speakers.  

At the Golden Toast, which kicks off CureFest, Sadie spoke about her battles.

Then in March of this year, she returned to Washington D.C. This time she lobbied to Congress to pass the RACE for Children Act, which would allow some forms of chemotherapy given to adults with cancer to be used by children who have cancer with the same molecular makeup. She also lobbied Congress for more funding for childhood cancer research.

“Kids are dying every day, and we need help because we have their whole lives ahead of us,” Sadie said. “It's important because we don't have to go through cancer.”

While there, Sadie also spent the day with McCaul, touring the Capitol and talking about Sadie's mission.


Sadie’s efforts aren’t limited to speaking. For the last two years, she has also collected toys to give to children in the hospital during Christmas in a program called Sadie's Sleigh.

“That way they'll have something that will give them a better Christmas,” Sadie said. “The first year my goal was to collect 300 toys, but I ended up collecting 1,300. The second year my goal was 2,000 toys, and I got 4,600.”

In 2015, Sadie donated those toys to Children's Medical Center, and last year she gave them to Cook Children's and Children’s Health in Dallas.

And Sadie isn't slowing down. Sadie has also established The Sadie Keller Foundation, where she gives gifts to children who reach milestones in their cancer recovery.

In September, she plans to speak at the Children’s Cancer Summit in Washington D.C.

Sarah said she is surprised by how much Sadie has accomplished but is proud of her efforts.

“There have been times where I’ve thought how unbelievable it is that she’s doing this,” Sarah said. “And while she’s receiving treatment herself. It started when she hid in my closet to make her first video, and then these other types of things … we’ve just followed her lead.”

Sarah said her daughter has put herself in a position to help other people.

“It’s gotten us through the treatment by her focusing on other people instead of her feeling sorry for herself,” Sarah said. “I asked her one day if she’s going to keep doing this when her treatment is done, and she looked at me like I was crazy. She said, ‘I’m going to do this for the rest of my life.’”


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