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Philanthropy 101

Promise - Fall 2011

Sisters Annaliese Fowler (from left), Olivia Fowler and Samantha Fowler, who enjoy a 
family ski trip every year, are proud that their gift to the Santa's Elves wish list made it 
possible for another child to have fun on the annual MD Anderson Children's Cancer 
Hospital ski trip.
Photo courtesy of Barb Fowler

Young Donors Make Wishes Come True

By Victor Scott

Financial reports aren’t typically part of Christmas Day festivities, especially for children. But for Joe and Linda Fowler’s grandchildren, they’re a highly anticipated holiday tradition.

It all started several years ago at the Houston couple’s urging.

“We have nine grandchildren, and one of our goals is to stay involved in their lives and have a positive influence on them,” says Joe. “We teach them that there’s more self-satisfaction in giving than receiving and that life is about more than just yourself.”

Each year right after Thanksgiving, Joe and Linda give money to each grandchild with instructions to donate to a worthy organization of their choice before Christmas. On Christmas Day the grandchildren deliver financial reports to the entire family detailing where and why they donated their money.

Three of the Fowlers’ grandchildren ― sisters Annaliese, 10, Olivia, 8, and Samantha, 6 ― decided to combine their money and grant a wish for one pediatric patient to attend the annual MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital ski trip.

“We go on a family ski trip every year, and the girls really love it,” says Barb Fowler, proud mother. “They wanted to help another child have as much fun as they do."

The girls learned about the wish through the annual MD Anderson fundraiser known as the Santa’s Elves Party. Santa’s Elves began in December 2006 to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors member Patsy Fourticq and her husband, Greg, of Houston, and the Norman Jaffe Professorship in Pediatrics, which their son, Gregory Fourticq Jr., also of Houston, established in their honor. The inaugural Santa’s Elves event at the Fourticqs’ home raised $20,855 for patients at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital.

Prior to each party, pediatric patients create a wish list for Santa that’s displayed on a giving tree. The Fowler girls wasted no time in deciding to become Santa’s Elves and grant one of those wishes.

“I try to teach my little sisters that it’s important to be kind to others and to put yourself in their shoes,” says Annaliese. “If you had cancer, wouldn’t you want people to donate?”

The Santa’s Elves Party offered just that opportunity.

“It was a chance to do something nice for a child who has cancer,” says Olivia. “And now I feel like that patient is my friend.”

Grandfather Fowler shares the pride he felt when the girls delivered the news that they were supporting MD Anderson.

“The combination of the latest research in the cancer field with great patient care makes MD Anderson a treasure in our community,” says Joe. “I pray that my family and I will never need MD Anderson’s services, but it’s a comfort to know it’s there.”

Watch the video: MD Anderson Advance Team: Santa's Elves

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center