Before 2013, Rally Pensacola was not foreseen as part of Cindi Bonner’s future goals. Neither was engaging in raising awareness for Childhood Cancer. Rally Pensacola had a very organic beginning in the community. When Cindi’s neighbor was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma at the age of four, she felt compelled to do something to help. They were bombarded with questions, texts, and phone calls and needed a way to answer everyone’s kind concerns while at the same time focusing on their daughter. Cindi, being a doer, built a website and Facebook page that would help keep their people informed. In this process, Cindi educated herself about childhood cancer and was astounded by what she read and learned. Not only is childhood cancer NOT rare, it is also severely underfunded for research. Cindi commented, “The people I came in contact with and the families I connected with and watched fight the horrible battle, changed me. I could no longer turn my back, I knew too much and had seen too much. I knew more had to be done in Pensacola.” Cindi established Rally Pensacola in the fall of 2015 and raised $100,000 in the first year of operation.
Rally Pensacola is an extension city for Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research (Rally). Each city brings its own uniqueness to their city chapter. The organization is working together under one 501(c)3 towards the common mission to find better treatments with fewer long term side-effects and, ultimately, cures for childhood cancer. Rally supports Rally Pensacola with their expertise and leadership. The staff in Atlanta is available to help assist when necessary in all departments, from marketing, development, special events, fundraising, and advocacy. Together, their efforts fund the most promising, cutting-edge childhood cancer research across the world, while simultaneously supporting local families affected by this disease.
Rally Pensacola has established a Family Emergency Fund, which offers financial relief to families in need. This allows the parent(s) to remain more focused on the well being of the child. Rally Pensacola will provide $1,500 annually towards bills (paying invoices directly) to local families who are currently fighting childhood cancer. The dollars are raised through generous individual donors, grants, and fundraising events.
Rally Pensacola is community based, community supported, and volunteer driven. They serve children right here who are fighting cancer. There is one part time staff member that was added last year through an endowment.
Rally works at 92% efficiency, therefore the dollars raised are truly being spent on their mission. 50% of all funds raised in Pensacola go to help local families fighting childhood cancer through the Family Emergency Fund. The other half goes toward research to help find safer and more effective treatment options for all children battling cancer, and ultimately find cures. Only 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s five billion dollar budget is spent on childhood cancer research. Rally Pensacola will continue their fight for children and families faced with cancer until a cure for Childhood Cancer can be found.
Learn more at rallyfoundation.org/our-team/rally-pensacola
*How long have you been involved with Rally Pensacola?
I have been involved raising awareness for Childhood Cancer since May of 2013. I successfully established Rally Pensacola as an extension city for Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research in the Fall 2015.
*How is Rally Pensacola funded?
Rally Pensacola is funded through generous donations from individuals, businesses, and fundraising events in our local community. Rally Pensacola is fortunate to have community partners who help provide our families with services such as food delivery in the hospital and social opportunities in the community.
*What impact has Rally Pensacola had on families in the community in the last year? Rally Pensacola has been able to bring together a community of childhood cancer families to support and lean on one another during a time in their lives that no one is ever prepared to encounter — the illness of a child. The childhood cancer families have to find balance in a “new normal”. Rally Pensacola helps support the families’ needs—financially and emotionally.
*What is the most rewarding part of your involvement with the organization?
The most rewarding part of my involvement is witnessing a child “ring the bell” at the hospital. This celebrates their end of treatment. Depending on the diagnosis, sometimes this means the cancer is stable, while more often times it signifies remission with no evidence of disease.
I also enjoy traveling to Washington, D.C., to advocate on behalf of and along side the cancer fighters and their families. To have the ability to feel so passionate about a cause that I can participate in helping to make a difference on national policy issues is quite rewarding. I realize how fortunate I am to not have a child diagnosed with cancer. Cancer does not discriminate; therefore, I recognize the need for change and the impact I have made for others, simply by being a voice for those who are bravely fighting.
*Is Rally Pensacola involved in any upcoming events?
We’ll be holding our inaugural Rally On the Runway on Thursday, April 26 at Sanders Beach-Corinne Jones Resource Center at 6:30 pm. This is a chic date-night fashion show featuring Rally Kids as models, great food and cocktails, as well as a silent and live auction.
Cancer is the number one disease killer of children in the United States and every day 46 families receive the devastating news that their child had been diagnosed with cancer. Every dollar given and every effort to raise awareness helps us get closer to finding a cure. There are many ways to get involved with Rally from serving meals at the children’s hospital to helping out at an event to running for Rally in a 5k to creating your own awareness and fundraising event. Please email me to get involved—Cindi@RallyFoundation.org.