When her daughter Isabella passed away last year at the age of seven, Erin Santos decided to turn her sorrow into hope for other children affected by life-threatening illnesses. One year later, not only has Erin established the Isabella Santos Foundation, but a recent social media initiative she began has helped raise awareness for research on neuroblastoma, the rare cancer that took her daughter's life.
Erin, in fact, started the foundation while Isabella was still alive in hopes of funding research projects that could save her daughter's life, the NY Daily News reported. The death of her daughter did nothing to dampen her will to fight this rare disorder localized to children under the age of 10.
According to the American Cancer Society, neuroblastoma begins in certain nerve cells found in the embryo or fetus. These cancerous cells will usually lead to complications around the age of five.
"Children's cancer gets so little attention. Anything we can do to draw attention to the fact that kids are dying because there's no new drugs or funding, is good," Santos told the Daily News.
"A lot of people don't know about these orphan cancers that affect 500 to 700 people a year."
To help raise awareness for the disease, Erin is asking Facebook and Twitter users to include the hashtag #ISF3Wishes, along with three wishes they have for a child suffering from cancer.
Answers from kind-hearted Twitter followers include "become a mommy," "find a cure for cancer," and "fall in love... a lot."
After raising $200,000 through her foundation last year alone, Erin has no plans of stopping now. Just this past Tuesday, the foundation presented checks to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for neuroblastoma research, as well as Carolinas Healthcare System's Levine Children's Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation in the amount of $180,000.
Funds were raised through the 5th annual Isabella Santos Foundation 5K for Kids with Cancer and the 1 Mile Kids Run Fun presented by United Support Services, Inc.