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