The Ball was conceived by members of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association as a way for alumni to maintain a connection to THON and continue fundraising for Four Diamonds after graduating from Penn State. Since the first Liberty Ball in 2006, the Liberty Ball and the Philadelphia Chapter have raised over $200,000 in the fight against pediatric cancer.
Continue reading to learn more about Four Diamonds, Penn State Thon and Gabrielle Chapman's, this year's Liberty Ball family, battle with the "Beast".
The Chapman Family
Gabrielle's heroic story started way before being diagnosed with cancer. She was born with no issues; however, three days later she was admitted to the NICU where she would spend a week with a mysterious infection. Shortly after her release, she found herself back in the hospital where doctors diagnosed her with Hydrocephalus, which is when the brain makes extra fluid and causes the head to grow rapidly. Over the following year, Gab went through a lot of therapy, CT scans and doctor visits. She was learning to live with Hydrocephalus.
INSIGHT #1: One out of five children do not survive cancer.
Gab was at the park playing when she fell and hit her head and got a bump. The family followed concussion protocol and she appeared to be fine. The next day Gab was having difficulty walking so they took her to see her pediatrician. Doctors believed it to be a viral infection and told the family to come back in two days if the symptoms continue. Two days later Gab found herself once again with her pediatrician. She could no longer walk as she was confined to crawling to get around. After a series of CT scans, the family was told to go back to see Gab's pediatrician immediately. The silence in the pediatrician's office was deafening prior to the family being told that Gab may have a cancerous brain tumor.
INSIGHT #2 An estimated 16,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year (43 kids per day).
The family rushed back to the hospital where an MRI confirmed their worst fears; Gab must undergo surgery to remove the tumor if she wanted to live. Gab made it through the surgery and a biopsy on the removed four centimeter tumor confirmed that it was cancerous. Gab had Medulloblastoma and will have to undergo chemotherapy if she wanted to beat the "beast"
INSIGHT #3 Four Diamonds and Thon cover 24 specialty care providers, including social workers, music therapists, child life team, nutritionist, pharmacists, genetic counseling, art therapy, psychologist, pastoral care, just to name a few.
A pediatric social worker introduced the family to Four Diamonds and Thon.
"We could never say thank you enough to all of the people we have met and helped us through our darkest hours. A few things that Four Diamonds and Penn State Thon provides that seem little but meant everything to us were: gas, phone and food cards. The phone cards were our life line to our family, we called our other daughter every night to check in when Gab was inpatient." - Chapman Family
Gabrielle treatment consisted of five regular rounds of chemotherapy, her own stem cell transplant, numerous MRI's, clinic visits, immunizations, and years of check-ups. She and her family went though a lot. Gab's twelve years removed from brain surgery and eleven years cancer free!
"We would like to thank Four Diamonds, Penn State Thon, Hershey Medical Center and anyone who's helped in our daughter's battle with the 'beast' and saving her life. What an incredible gift we've been given... the privilege of watching Gab grow up!" - Chapman Family
Kayla Nakonechni Knight Award Recipient: Barbara A. Miller, M.D.
Three Ways to Help
JOIN ONE OF OUR COMMITTEES
LIBERTY BALL COMMITTEE
- The Liberty Ball Committee is responsible for the preparation and implementation of all aspects of the Liberty Ball and consists of various sub-committees that handle specific areas/tasks for the Ball. The committee meets on a monthly basis. Below are a listing of the sub-committees that aide in the planning of the Ball. For questions about Liberty Ball 2018 or to get involved with the general committee for Liberty Ball 2018, please contact Caitlin Simcox and Lauren Nakonechni.
- The Technology Team is responsible for any IT needs for the events leading up to and including the Ball. This includes web-development, application development, tablet distribution and electronic payment processing the evening of The Liberty Ball. For questions about technology or to join the technology team please contact Santo Fortebuono.
EVENTS AND LOGISTICS SUBCOMMITTEE
- The Events team is responsible for the planning of pre-Liberty Ball fundraisers and activities that raise money for the operating costs of the Ball while building awareness and excitement about the Ball. Members of this team should be outgoing and possess the ability to generate enthusiasm for unique and creative events. Past events include: Quizzo nights, Penn State Football game watches, THON™ night at the Camden Riversharks, and Dave & Buster’s Spirit night. For questions about events or to get involved with the Events Awards committee, please contact Victoria Maseda. For Events Day Of Logistics or Game Watches committee please contact Caitlin Scroger.
SILENT AUCTION AND RAFFLE SUBCOMMITTEE
- The Silent Auction & Raffle team is responsible for proactively soliciting items from area businesses for the auction and raffle that occur at the Ball. This team keeps account of all items received and organizes them into one of the two categories as applicable. Members of this team would benefit from great networking and sales skills to aide in soliciting businesses to donate. For questions about the silent auction & raffle or to join the silent auction & raffle team contact Brian Levengood.
- The Sponsorship team is responsible for procuring corporate sponsorships for the Ball by reaching out to past contacts as well as developing new relationships with potential sponsors. The sponsorship team is the owner of the sponsor packet which outlines levels of corporate sponsorship along with the levels of each. They will maintain a master listing of all outreach performed, contacts and levels of commitment. For questions about sponsorship or to join the sponsorship team please contact Rachel Greider.
MARKETING AND SALES SUBCOMMITTEE
- The Marketing & Sales team is responsible for building awareness and publicity of the Liberty Ball through traditional and innovate forms of media (i.e. social media, print publications, radio, TV, etc.). This team is the driving force of ticket sales for the Ball and will work closely with the events team and co-chairs to create excitement about the Ball. For questions about marketing & sales or to join the marketing & sales team please contact Lauren Burrell and Rebecca Balchunas.