Green Country Grown-Ups: Scott & Brandi Phillips
With September being National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we want to highlight a child whose short life made a significant and everlasting impact on those around him. Pierce Phillips was only 13 months old when he was diagnosed with Stage Three, High-Risk Neuroblastoma Cancer and 2 years old when he lost his battle with the disease. Not long after his death, Pierce’s parents, Scott and Brandi Phillips, decided to turn their devastating loss into something positive. They did so by establishing a charity in honor of their son to support local kids and their families who are also battling a childhood cancer diagnosis as well as funding childhood cancer research.
Getting to know Scott, Brandi and Pierce:
TK: Tell us about Pierce.
Brandi: Pierce was an incredible little boy, full of life, smiles, and laughter. He had the most beautiful blue eyes that told a story of their own.
TK: When was he diagnosed with cancer?
Brandi: Pierce was diagnosed at 13 months old with Stage Three, High-Risk Neuroblastoma after having a fever for a week or so that would not go away.
TK: How did Pierce’s diagnosis affect your lives?
Brandi: As a mother you would do anything for your child, hearing the words “your son has cancer” completely took me to my knees. I knew what this could mean for Pierce and our family. We found out on a Friday, and we were in New York by Tuesday to consult with specialists at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. We arrived there at the end of August 2008 and did not come home again until February 2009. During our time there, Pierce received five cycles of high-dose chemotherapy, two surgeries, 14 rounds of radiation, numerous transfusions, and immunotherapy treatment. This is something no child should have to endure and no parent should have to see their child in so much pain. It was heartbreaking!
TK: How did you come up with the idea of starting a charity in his memory?
Brandi: We knew we wanted to keep fighting for Pierce and help children and their families who are in this same situation. We started planning our first fundraiser at the beginning of 2010. We have had tremendous support from our board members: Stacy Dixon, Shannon Govier, and Brooke Mahan as well as their husbands. This charity would not be what it is today without these ladies and their families.
Scott: We actually had a small golf fundraiser with Pierce in 2009 and then after he passed we had our first event at the Hard Rock and raised over $100K, more than twice our original goal, so we thought maybe should really do this and then formed the non-profit.
Pierce Phillips Charity:
TK: When was the Pierce Phillips Charity formed and what is its mission?
Brandi: We started raising money in 2010, but had no idea the response and support we would have.
Scott: PPC’s mission is devoted to the eradication of pediatric cancer through funding research and to improving the lives of families whose children are battling this disease.
TK: How do you raise money for the charity?
Brandi: Each year in September, which is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we hold the Pierce Phillips Charity Golf & Gala. This event consists of a golf tournament in the morning followed by a gala with live and silent auction, dinner, entertainment, and much more. This year’s Gala event is Friday, September 11 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Our event has some amazing Gold Ribbon sponsors: KS Dealer Services and Schneider Electric. We are also having a jewelry pull with local donors, Rustic Cuff and J. Spencer. In the spring, we also hold a Girls Night Out event that consists of a purse auction; all funds raised at this event go directly to helping families. More information about these fundraisers can be found on our website, www.piercephillipscharity.org.
TK: What resources do you provide to parents whose kids are diagnosed with cancer?
Brandi: Since 2010 we have funded numerous clinical trials at centers of excellence all over North America and Canada. Our website has a page dedicated to resources and information for families as well.
Giving back on a local level:
TK: How is the money raised through the charity benefit local families?
Brandi: Locally, we visit The Children’s Hospital at St. Francis on a bi-monthly basis, providing bingo night and snack cart. We also provide grants to Oklahoma families whose children are battling cancer to help with the expenses they incur during treatment, whether it is for medications, treatment, utilities, etc. One hundred percent of the proceeds raised fund research and support local families.
TK: How would a family apply for help with your charity?
Brandi: Families may visit our website, www.piercephillipscharity.org and fill out the grant request located on the “Making A Difference” page.
Scott: There is also a form for a grant request available to families at The Children’s Hospital at St. Francis.
TK: Are you looking for volunteers? If so, how can someone get involved?
Brandi: We are always looking for individuals or groups that would like to get involved with our cause. We need several volunteers for our event each September to serve on our auction, golf and sponsorship committees as well as other events throughout the year. If anyone is interested, they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TK: What is family life like now?
Brandi: Scott and I have been married for 11 years and this journey has only made us closer; he truly is my best friend. We have a little boy named Hudson, who is 2 1/2 and has brought us so much joy. He is precious in every way; we love seeing him grow and experience life. We live in a great neighborhood that has embraced our family and charity. We enjoy spending time with our friends and family, going to the lake and taking vacations.
Pierce touched so many lives in his two short years with us. It is amazing to see the hearts and lives that our son affected. We miss him so much and will continue to fight for him!