A girl in a stroller is smiling

Oh What A Night

As I watched her on stage, her daddy, myself and those who love her all felt the same rush of pride. I saw the same pride on her face and the face of her siblings. Her dream of selling her art came true and for such a generous amount. She was thrilled.
— Elizabeth, mom to childhood cancer hero, Caroline

Teens standing on a stage They are holding a large painting

Your generosity at the 11th Annual Heroes Art Ball blew us away. You made it the biggest night in Connor’s Heroes history. A record-breaking $517,000 raised. Your kindness at the gala validated the mission of Connor’s Heroes — that no family should face their child’s cancer alone. They will have a community of heroes by their sides.

9 CHILDHOOD CANCER HEROES
Ava, Aubrey, Caroline, Dayanne, Joshua, Kennedy, Meya, Sydney and Thomas are nine of the 86 children in active treatment who Connor’s Heroes is helping right now.

For many months, they came to the Visual Arts Center for our Heroes Art Session. Our Heroes Art Sessions provide a supportive environment in which childhood cancer heroes and their siblings can make art, and feel a collective sense of healing simply by creating and being together. You could feel their excitement when they finally got to take the stage with their artwork at the Heroes Art Ball. It was a magical moment as each child felt your gratitude when you put up your bid number to win their art.

A MOMENT WE WON’T FORGET
We featured Emily in the Heroes Art Ball in 2013. At the time of the 2013 Heroes Art Ball, she completed her treatment. She felt so proud when her painting raised $800 that night. Fast forward to 2022. Emily is excitedly preparing to graduate high school and go off to college. She continues to paint and volunteers as an Artist Mentor. At the Heroes Art Sessions, she collaborated with the kids on a massive painting called Sunset RVA. She guided the kids on how to add their favorite colors and brush stokes to a painting of Richmond’s iconic downtown by the river. Imagine her shock when Sunset RVA fetched $20,000 at the live auction. Proof of how Emily, Connor’s Heroes support for families, and your generosity have grown all these years. Thank you to everyone who raised their paddle during the live auction.

A group of teens standing on the stage together holding up a painting

HERO OF THE YEAR AWARD
We named Ted and Mary Linhart as our 2022 Hero Of The Year. In her remarks, Connor’s Heroes Board Member and Founder, Lisa Goodwin, said “Ted and Mary have been quiet, yet dedicated supporters of The Heroes Art Ball since the beginning. They served on the Host Committee of the inaugural Heroes Art Ball in 2011. They have been sponsors ever since. Their commitment to Connor’s Heroes made a difference and touched our hearts.”

A man and a woman are speaking at the gala

HELPING HEROES
Returning to the stage were our Helping Heroes. We featured these teens at a past Heroes Art Ball when they were in active treatment for cancer. Today, Aida, Anna, Campbell, Emily, Grace, Mireya, Natalie, Noah, Savanna, Wyatt, and Tay are out of treatment. They stood side-by-side (in so many ways) with the 2022 childhood cancer heroes.

BIG THANKS
Thank you to our sponsors, in-kind businesses, donors, and Artist Mentors
. We are grateful to Hoot Media, Kenzi Flinchum Photography, Victoria Jean Photography and Jennifer Gavin Photography.
We were lucky to have a team volunteers helping at the gala: Katie Acker, Tom Block, Chandler Craddock, Kaetlin Collins, Samira Creel, Heather Dillon, Helen Dillion, Nickie Enos, Felicia Franco, Amy Franco, Afton Grossman, Taylor Jarrett, Kendall McQuillen, Blair Powell, McKinley Richard, Amanda Roach, Carlin Roach, Melissa Smith, Meghan Stables, and Jovany Vigil-Perez.

Hugs to the childhood cancer families who committed to coming to our Heroes Art Sessions.
And to YOU for caring about the childhood cancer community who need Connor’s Heroes.

Take a few minutes to meet the heroes you help with your support of Connor’s Heroes. You can read their profiles and watch a short video of each one: www.connorsheroes.org/heroes-of-rva

SAVE THE DATE: 12th Annual Heroes Art Ball on Friday, May 5, 2023 at John Marshall Ballrooms

Sponsor Page V2

a hospital bed decorated with pillows

Keysy & Taylor's Rooms

Taylor’s Room

15-year-old Taylor opened the door to a room filled with butterflies and her favorite colors, teal and baby blue. What made this room extra special was who the decorators were. They were a childhood cancer hero family. Their teenage daughter is in active treatment right now.

Keysy’s Room

Also on the unit is sweet Keysy. She has been in treatment for ALL for over two years. She is only six years old. The family needed a hero to be her bone marrow donor. Turns out her younger brother was her match. Volunteer Samantha made the hospital room feel like home so the whole family can be together as comfortably as possible. Erin brought gifts and cheer to Keysy and her hero sidekick, her brave brother.

Do you like to give back to your community by volunteering? Do you enjoy shopping? Do you enjoy decorating? Do you want to put a smile on a hospitalized child’s face? You may be the perfect volunteer for Connor’s Heroes room decorator team. Connor’s Heroes will give you a list of the patient’s likes and interests. You will receive a budget so you can shop around for the perfect decor. Connor’s Heroes will reimburse you for your purchases.
Fill out a volunteer application: http://weblink.donorperfect.com/volunteer_CHF


A woman is sitting next to a girl in an art studio

April Heroes Art Session

Four chlidren help a woman paint a large canvas with blue and green paints

April’s Heroes Art Session was jam packed with creativity. Our childhood cancer heroes, their siblings (and some moms and dads) put the finishing touches on their masterpieces. This is the final Heroes Art Session before 11th Annual Heroes Art Ball on Friday, May 6, 2022.

We had special guests at this month’s Heroes Art Session. Meredith Burns, the Child Life Specialist with CHoR, met the families she can help in the hospital. Anna, Emily, Campbell, Tay, and Savanna met the young heroes who will be featured at the gala. These teens volunteered to be Helping Heroes. All five were featured at past Heroes Art Balls. They are gala pros (and an inspiration to the youngsters).

The 11th Annual Heroes Art Ball recognizes all the childhood cancer heroes with Connor’s Heroes and the community who supports them. You are invited to this magical night: 11th Annual Heroes Art Ball in May 2022! The Heroes Art Ball is Connor’s Heroes largest fundraising event of the year.

Our Heroes Art Sessions provide a supportive environment in which childhood cancer heroes and their siblings can make art, and build community with other hero families. At the sessions, they feel a collective sense of healing simply by creating and being together. We are grateful to The Visual Arts Center of Richmond for giving us the space for an open studio. And to our donors who allow the Heroes Art Sessions to happen at no cost to our families.

Childhood Cancer Heroes & their families: Meya, Sydney, Persephone, Gabby, Thomas, Kennedy, Bella, Dayanne

Hero Artist Leaders & Volunteers: Katya Herndon, Dale Knight, Jennike Duignam, Emily Griffin, Sarah Cross, Maddie Koerber

You will meet some of the childhood cancer heroes shown here when you come to the gala. They will be our guests of honor at the 11th Annual Heroes Art Ball in May 2022!


Three hands are on a large piece of cloth One hand is rolling purple ink while the other two hands hold a stencil

March Heroes Art Session Was Big

Six children are standing around a table molding pieces of clay

Our March Heroes Art Session was our largest one so far – kids, parents, artists, volunteers were excited to create. Visual Arts Center’s massive outdoor patio was the perfect spot to get to work. Everyone focused on one thing: creating beautiful pieces of art for YOU, just in time for the 11th Annual Heroes Art Ball. Friday, May 6 is coming up fast! [A limited number of tickets are still on sale: https://www.connorsheroes.org/11th-heroes-art-ball]

The heroes who will be our special guests at the 11th Annual Heroes Art Ball were treated like celebrities. Jos. A. Bank fitted the boys for tuxedos. [The Heroes Art Ball is black-tie optional for our guests.] The kids sat for portraits taken by Nancy Parker of Cabay Photography studio (and mom to our hero, Owen!) Greg Wright set up a mini studio for video interviews with our Heroes. The best part was when their brothers, sisters and parents joined in. Some shed a few tears, but mostly they laughed and shared cute stories about one another.

In between the painting, marbling, sculpting, rolling, cutting, crafting, quilting, and tracing, there was delicious frozen custard from Richmond’s jiji Frozen Custard truck. Extra sprinkles were a must!

Another neat thing about this Heroes Art Session heroes who have been out of treatment for over a decade created side by side with the heroes currently in the middle of treatment.

The Heroes Art Sessions happen thanks to our partnership with Visual Arts Center of Richmond and YOU! Your donations make it possible for our childhood cancer families to be together and create.

The 11th Annual Heroes Art Ball recognizes all the childhood cancer heroes who are a part of Connor’s Heroes. We hope you can join us for this magical night: 11th Annual Heroes Art Ball in May 2022!

Hero Artist Leaders & Volunteers: Emily Griffin, Alex Georghiou Frankart, Frankie Slaughter, Jennike Duignam, Monica Wilmore, Nancy Jacey, Steve Hedberg, Sarah Cross, Katya Herndon, Kathleen O’Connor, Bruce Wilhelm.


A woman and a child standing in a park The boy is holding a giant bubble wand

Reflecting on my four years

A message from Celia

2021 was a milestone year for Connor’s Heroes. It was our 15th anniversary. The largest number of families in our historymore than 100 families — received our personalized support. Families received more financial assistance than ever before – nearly 4 times the amount of support since 2018. And 2021 marked Celia’s fourth year as our Executive Director. In this blog post, Celia reflects on and looks ahead to a pivotal year for Connor’s Heroes.

To our community of heroes and hero families:

In March 2018, the Connor’s Heroes Board Of Directors named me as Executive Director. They trusted me to carry on the Goodwin family’s legacy of Connor’s Heroes in caring for local children with cancer.

If this past year taught me anything, it was to surround myself with people who care. I thank you for being a part of MY community of heroes.

My time with Connor’s Heroes started back in 2010 as a volunteer. As I grew in my roles, so did my relationships with the brave children in treatment. Three of them — Valentin, Anna, and Sophia — remind me how easy it is for you and me to be a hero to a child with cancer.

I met Valentin in 2013 when he was just three years old. Because his family lived down the street from me, I saw them frequently. Valentin, his brother Florian, and I spent many afternoons at the Visual Arts Center during our Heroes Art Sessions. When Valentine relapsed in 2017, I visited him in the hospital. I brought him his favorite things: a pepperoni pizza, an Orangina, and lots of legos.

I got to know Anna in 2014 when I chaired the 4th Annual Heroes Art Ball. As she stood on stage, I could feel the outpouring of support for the childhood cancer heroes there that night. She has grown up so much since our Heroes Art Ball together. Now Anna attends our monthly Heroes Art Sessions as a volunteer and is giving back to Connor’s Heroes in her own special way!

Sophia was diagnosed with leukemia just two weeks before I started as Executive Director. She was one of the first heroes I met in my new role. Whenever I see her at our family events, she greets me with the biggest and most beautiful smile!

Why do I love being Executive Director of Connor’s Heroes? It is because of Valentin, Anna, Sophia, and the hundreds of childhood cancer heroes.

Today, Valentin, Anna and Sophia are post treatment. They continue to be a part of Connor’s Heroes. Whether it’s coming to an art session, a pizza party, or volunteering to decorate a BMT patient’s hospital room.

It is because of you, Valentin, Anna and Sophia were surrounded with a community of heroes who helped their families. You can make sure the next family whose child is diagnosed with cancer is supported by the many programs Connor’s Heroes has to offer.

Join me for our biggest night of the year. The Heroes Art Ball returns on Friday, May 6 at The John Marshall Ballrooms. The Heroes Art Ball funds our many programs — like our Heroes Bag and Backpack and Heroes Art Sessions. The gala promises to be a magical night for the childhood cancer heroes who are the guests of honor. And for you.

While the last few years have been full of challenges, you should be extremely proud of the many ways (big and small) you helped a child with cancer. Thank you for believing Connor’s Heroes can bring hope to a family throughout their child’s cancer journey.


Five women standing together each one is holding a painting they did of a sunflower

Art Programs Growing

Our hero families are discovering their artistic talents through art programs organized by Connor’s Heroes. Along with our Heroes Art Sessions, our families can look forward to a year full of art created from the heart!

A spirited group of hero moms spent an evening in the studio with artist Nancy Jacey at Jacey Gallery. Nancy is well known for her large-scale paintings. She guided the hero moms on how to paint a beautiful sunflower over a blue background. The moms see each other clinic, but rarely have time to connect. The painting session gave them a few precious hours together to unwind. Nancy said, “When the moms finished painting, they shared their stories. It was very emotional and therapeutic for all.” Nancy has been an artist mentor with Connor’s Heroes for many of our Heroes Art Ball. Our Hero Artists were: Lovena Thore, Shelley Johnston, Valerie Brown, Juliet Seymour, and Jacqueline Guzman
You can see Nancy’s work on her website: https://www.nancyjacey.com/

“We absolutely loved this class! We would do this again in a heartbeat!” — Jen, mom to Hero Cooper. Cooper, Zuri, Persephone, and Anna took part in a clay class through the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. For some kids, the class was their first time working with clay and a pottery wheel. The Visual Arts Center is a great space for creativity and expression. They also host our Heroes Art Sessions every month. We are so lucky to have Visual Arts Center as a partner. Their schedule of classes is on their website: https://www.visarts.org/

Creating art can help a hero family make sense of the feelings they experience during treatment and build a friendship with other hero families.

“A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.” — Salvador Dali


A sign saying you go girl taped to the door of a hospital room

Teens' Hospital Rooms Decorated

Two teenage childhood cancer heroes started a lengthy stay on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit (BMT). When our Program Director, Erin, learned they were being admitted, she and Anne-Randolph sprung into action. They put out an all-call to our team of BMT volunteers. Just like a real superhero, the volunteers answered our call and arrived in the nick of time to help! Look how the teams of volunteers decorated the hospital rooms for Edwin and Kayleigh. Each room captured the spirited personalities of these teen heroes.

Allez Paris Saint-Germain!
Edwin told Erin he was a big fan of soccer. His favorite team is Paris Saint-Germain. Connor’s Heroes Board member Tom Voekler and his wife, Jill, volunteered to make Edwin’s room feel special. Jill and Tom are a passionate soccer family. They knew exactly what a soccer fan would love. They decorated Edwin’s hospital room with posters, lights, and a team flag.

You Go Girl
19-year-old Kayleigh entered her hospital room to find it decorated with inspiring posters reading “You Go Girl” and “You Can. You Will!” On her bed were arts, crafts, and games. Leave it to Ellen, a skilled BMT room decorator, to find the perfect decorations for Kayleigh’s room.

Do you like to give back to your community by volunteering? Do you enjoy shopping? Do you enjoy decorating? Do you want to put a smile on a hospitalized child’s face? You may be the perfect volunteer for Connor’s Heroes room decorator team. Connor’s Heroes will give you a list of the patient’s likes and interests. You will receive a budget so you can shop around for the perfect decor. Connor’s Heroes will reimburse you for your purchases.
Fill out a volunteer application: http://weblink.donorperfect.com/volunteer_CHF


A woman and a child working together on a painting in an art studio

February Heroes Art Session

A woman standing next to a child who is holding a painting of pink tulips

Our February Heroes Art Session was extra special. We kicked off our creative sessions for the 11th Annual Heroes Art Ball. Over the next few months, childhood cancer heroes and their siblings will create beautiful pieces of art. Working side by side with them will be incredibly talented hometown artists. The final pieces will be up for auction at the 11th Annual Heroes Art Ball. You can place the winning bid for this one-of-the-kind art. The Heroes Art Ball is on Friday, May 6, at the The John Marshall Ballrooms downtown Richmond. Tickets go on sale on Tuesday, March 1.

Due to COVID restrictions, we kept this Heroes Art Session small. Five hero families, who will be our VIP hero families at the Heroes Art Ball, joined us for this special afternoon. The kids created with clay, watercolors, paint, and even had a chance to use a sewing machine! We can’t wait to introduce you to Ava, Dayanne, Joshua, Kennedy, and Sydney at The Heroes Art Ball on May 6. Thank you to our wonderful Hero Artist Leaders who shared their time and talent with the kids!

Our Heroes Art Sessions provide a supportive environment in which childhood cancer heroes and their siblings can make art, and build community with other hero families. At the sessions, they feel a collective sense of healing simply by creating and being together. We are grateful to The Visual Arts Center of Richmond for giving us the space for an open studio. And to our donors who allow the Heroes Art Sessions to happen at no cost to our families.

Childhood Cancer Heroes: Ava, Dayanne, Joshua, Kennedy, and Sydney
Hero Artist Leaders & Volunteers: Monica Wilmore, Frankie Slaughter, Susan Rash, Nico Cathcart, Jennike Duignam, Sarah Cross

If you are interested in sharing your talents by volunteering as a hero artist leader, fill out our online volunteer application posted on our website: www.connorsheroes.org/ways-to-give/

If you can not volunteer your time, you can support the monthly heroes art sessions and other programs offered to childhood cancer heroes by making a donation online: www.connorsheroes.org/ways-to-give/

You will meet some of the childhood cancer heroes shown here when you come to the gala. They will be our guests of honor at the 11th Annual Heroes Art Ball in May 2022!


Giftannouncement 2022

A grateful family makes historic gift to Connor’s Heroes

A grateful family makes historic gift to Connor’s Heroes


A Richmond family, grateful for the support Connor’s Heroes gave their teenage daughter throughout her cancer treatment, made a $500,000 commitment to Connor’s Heroes. It is the largest gift in Connor’s Heroes history. The family, who wish to remain anonymous, made this gift as Connor’s Heroes plans for the opening of the new inpatient children’s hospital.

“They made this donation with a simple request: continue to give families hope, guidance, and support” said Celia Tetlow Martin, Executive Director of Connor’s Heroes. “Their generosity will provide our childhood cancer families with new experiences, resources and support options throughout the course of their treatment and beyond. This gift has already transformed how we care for a child with cancer.”

The gift will support the Unique Needs Fund. Connor’s Heroes piloted the program in 2021. The fund will help families with unexpected expenses for extended stays in the hospital or Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) Unit, or traveling outside of Central Virginia for second opinions, clinical trials or treatment. 

The relationship the family developed with Erin Gardner, Connor’s Heroes Program Director, influenced their decision to support Connor’s Heroes. 

The mother said,

“Erin showed my daughter incredible kindness and empathy. It was clear from the moment we first met, she is dedicated to helping families who are in the worst place. So many people do not know how to be there for a family in crisis. Erin and Connor’s Heroes knew exactly what my family needed.”  

Connor’s Heroes also will fund a Child Life Specialist (CLS) at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR). Meredith Burns, MS, CCLS, is a Certified Child Life Specialist with CHoR. At the end of February, she will focus on the pediatric hematology and oncology patients when they are admitted to CHoR. She will help coordinate a family’s care with the Connor’s Heroes Program Team, made up of Erin and Anne-Randolph Carter. 

The donation comes as Connor’s Heroes successfully completed its capital campaign, Rooms Filled With Hope. The campaign raised funds for five rooms on the new pediatric hematology and oncology floor of The Wonder Tower at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. Part of the gift will go towards designing the rooms as safe spaces for arts projects, consultations with doctors, meals, playful activities, and meeting with Connor’s Heroes Program Team. 

For the past three years, the number of families who registered with Connor’s Heroes has increased. Connor’s Heroes increased the amount of financial support a family receives every year of their child’s treatment.

“Connor’s Heroes was named in honor of the circle of heroes who helped Connor Goodwin during his treatment. Thanks to all the people who donated, our community of heroes grew. We are at this historic moment together,” said Celia. “This is a transformational gift. But so is every gift. Every donor can transform the care of a child with cancer.”

Three children working with an artist on an abstract paining

A woman smiling standing in front of three people who are in an office

Announcing A New Child Life Specialist

A woman smiling standing in front of three people who are in an office

Connor’s Heroes Welcomes New Child Life Specialist

When you receive an email from Meredith Burns, MS, CCLS, she closes it with this wonderful quote from Dr. Seuss: “Don’t give up. I believe in you all. A person’s a person no matter how small.”

Meredith understands the anxiety a family feels when their child is diagnosed with a difficult illness. She is a Certified Child Life Specialist (CLS) with Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR). Ask any hero parent, they will tell you how Child Life is an essential member of their child’s care team.

Connor’s Heroes is happy to announce, at the end of February 2022, Meredith will be a part of the Connor’s Heroes team. She will focus on the pediatric hematology and oncology patients when they are admitted to CHoR.

Having a CHoR CLS for pediatric hematology and oncology patients is very much needed. Especially when Connor’s Heroes opens the five Rooms Filled With Hope in The Wonder Tower. The Wonder Tower, a consolidated, state-of-the-art inpatient children’s hospital hopes to open in 2023.

Connor’s Heroes Board Member, Marisa Cherry, is excited to have a CLS for our hero families. Marisa and Steve’s daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2013.

“I spent countless weeks in the hospital with my daughter doing the best I could to explain the unexplainable, keep her spirits positive, and to comfort her through pain. It was terrifying and exhausting,” said Marisa. “Soon, Connor’s Heroes will open five Rooms Filled With Hope in the amazing Wonder Tower. Together the CLS and the Connor’s Heroes Rooms will give our families dedicated, safe spaces beyond the four walls of their rooms. CLS will help parents by talking in kid-friendly terms about procedures, providing necessities at just the right time, offering diversions like art therapy, and celebrating treatment milestones.”

Meredith Burns, Child Life Specialist
Meredith Burns, Child Life Specialist, Picture Credit: Children's Hospital at VCU

Meredith explains how the team of Child Life Specialist at CHoR help pediatric patients. She talks about how she can ease a child’s fears and decrease a family’s stress when they are in the hospital.

How does a Child Life Specialist (CLS) help a family? 

I like to say it is my job to bring the hospital world down to a patient’s level (of understanding). A CLS has a background in child development and a specialty in how that development can be impacted by hospitalization. We help patients and families cope, in a developmentally appropriate way, with their hospital experience. Not every experience is going to be fun, but as a CLS, I hope to make the experience less overwhelming and traumatizing for everyone involved.

A child often is in cancer treatment for years. How will a CLS help a family at diagnosis and throughout treatment?

I try to build my relationship with a patient during the testing process to learn what the exact diagnosis is. It is important to create positive coping techniques that can last through treatment. Upon receiving a diagnosis, I can help the patient better understand their diagnosis. CLS can prepare patients for procedures, use medical play to teach about new support devices they may need (gastrostomy tubes, central lines, ports, etc.), and distract them during painful procedures (IV starts, dressing changes). Also, CLS can assist caregivers on how to explain the diagnosis to siblings and facilitate ways to continue the sibling bond while the patient is in the hospital. 

Throughout treatment, CLS can be there to provide emotional support on hard days, as well as provide opportunities for play and fun. I believe patients need to feel like children, even though they are in the hospital. 

A crucial role of child life is to assess patients and families where they are at that moment and be respectful of their wish for alone time. Child life can be a friendly face who patients and families see if they need multiple admissions.

Connor’s Heroes mission is to provide hope, guidance, and support to a child with cancer and their family. How will you support Connor’s Heroes mission?

I can be a support system within the hospital to help patients and families navigate their cancer journey. I provide patients with the foundation for understanding their diagnosis and encouraging each patient to advocate for their needs. I want to instill hope in the patient and their family that they have it within themselves to make it through and that they are not alone in this journey.

Outside of the hospital, how do you spend your free time?

I enjoy watching movies, being with family, and going to sporting events. I also love to spend time with my dog Slider and taking him to the park. I really like to travel and learn about history all over the world. Over the summer, I took Slider on walking tours around Richmond through a great program called History Hounds Tours.

Erin Gardner, Program Director, and Anne-Randolph Carter, Program Coordinator, are excited to have Meredith a part of the Connor’s Heroes team.

Almost every week a child in Central Virginia is diagnosed with cancer. Connor’s Heroes gives a family financial assistance and emotional support throughout a child’s cancer journey. Connor’s Heroes starts with a Heroes Bag and Backpack. Inside, a child will find an iPad, crafts, toys, and games. A parent will receive the first (of many) gift cards. While their child is in treatment, the family will get gift cards for gas and groceries, a house cleaning, meal delivery, or a special treat for a birthday or holiday.

Thank you to our community of heroes who made it possible for our childhood cancer families to have a CLS in the pediatric hospital.