About Our Cause
The Sumrows’ Story
Twenty-nine years ago, Pam and Ken Sumrow started a tradition of philanthropy that is still going strong. Each September, the Sumrow family, in partnership with Children’s Health, put on the Red Balloon Children Helping Children Tennis Tournament to raise money for the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Health. In total, and with the help of many volunteers, the event has raised $3.3 million for pediatric cancer research and programs.
The Sumrows started the tournament 29 years ago in honor of their son, Clint, who was successfully treated at Children’s Medical Center for cancer when he was only five years old. The idea of a tournament to raise funds for Children’s Health was a perfect way to combine the family’s love of tennis with their desire to help other families facing the challenge of caring for a child with cancer.
Almost three decades later, Clint Sumrow, now serves as event volunteer co-chair along with his sisters, Christy Sumrow Byerly and Lauren Sumrow Frey. What started as a grassroots effort to give back to Children's Health is now a United States Tennis Association-sanctioned event, taking place each September, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
The event serves as a chance for young athletes to see firsthand how they can help make life better for children.
The Pauline Allen Gill Center
The Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Medical Center is a world-class pediatric treatment center recognized nationally for exceptional clinical care, leadership in pediatric cancer research and academic excellence. With 24 pediatric hematologists and oncologists, all of whom are faculty members at UT Southwestern Medical Center, the Gill Center cares for more than 1,000 new patients each year, making it the largest childhood cancer and blood center in the region.
Meet Our Honorary hero
Kaitlyn is a 9-year-old girl who loves cheerleading, dance and making new friends. But for most of her life, she has battled cancer. She was 18 months old when her parents noticed a bump on the head would easily turn to a bruise. Then a rash broke out all over her body. Finally, a fever hit.
A trip to Children’s Health revealed she had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancer. Her parents, James and Mandy, signed a stack of consent forms and promised their daughter they wouldn’t stop until she was cancer free. Kaitlyn endured chemotherapy treatment for two and a half years at Children’s Medical Center Dallas to fight the cancer.
The treatment works for a lot of kids, but a few months after Kaitlyn finished, the cancer returned. Her doctor suggested the family enroll Kaitlyn in a clinical trial for a new immunotherapy in Pennsylvania. The CART T-cell treatment -- tried by only a few dozen patients at the time -- meant doctors would remove Kaitlyn’s T-cells, the defenders of her immune system, and reengineer them so they could fight the cancer.
Kaitlyn was 4 years old when the family began the treatment in Pennsylvania. Eight weeks and two infusions later, her parents feared the worst when the doctor called James late one night. He picked up the phone and began to cry, but this time, they were happy tears: The treatment worked, and Kaitlyn was in remission. “I have only experienced that type of overwhelming joy several times in my life. The only thing that comes close to comparison is the first time I held her in my arms,” James said.