DALLAS — Pediatric cancer robs kids across the world of their innocence and thrusts the very real, irrevocable line of life and death to the fore. However, organizations such as the Children’s Cancer Fund beat back cancer, not only with funds raised for research, but also in fun endeavors such as their annual model reveal and photo shoot ahead of their yearly gala.
One pediatric cancer patient chosen to take part in the 2020 edition was Madilyn Hallford, 4, of Paris, Texas.
“It’s really great,” Madilyn’s mother, Tarin Hallford of Paris, said. “Even kids that aren’t able to participate, it affects kids that are all through the hospital. So, kids that are in the hospital rooms and go into treatment right now, it gives them something to kind of look forward to when they’re out of treatment.”
Madilyn had been looking forward to taking part in the photo shoot and subsequent gala, where there is a walk down the runway with a celebrity escort, since being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2016. After two and a half years worth of treatments, the doctors at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas helped Madilyn reach a point in 2018 where she could stop treatments.
“I know that for my daughter that was a big thing to watch the ones that got to [be a part of the photo shoot and gala],” said Hallford. “She was asking for several years, ‘When am I going to do it?’ Finally she got old enough and now we’re here.”
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and NFL on FOX A-team color commentator Troy Aikman has been an honorary chair of the Children Cancer Fund’s annual event since 1997 when another former Cowboys quarterback, Roger Staubach, asked him. Every year, Aikman is impressed by the toughness and heroism of the kids, including Madilyn.
“We do use a lot of those terms, toughness and heroic and all of that in sports,” said Aikman. “And you really haven’t seen it until you see what these kids go through, and even the families. It’s in a lot of ways just as tough on these parents and siblings and Children’s does an amazing job and I’m happy to support them, not only on this event, but in all the things that they do.”
Hallford appreciates Aikman’s insights, and says that Madilyn has taught her a lot about toughness during her treatments.
“She’s taught me endurance and about just positivity and a lot about God,” said Hallford. “So, it’s been a good process for our whole family honestly. I remember people would tell me this was one of the worst but best thing to happen to your family ever.
“I would be like, ‘You’re crazy. There’s no good that can come from this.’ And there’s a lot of good. Everybody here would say something positive came out of their situation.”
The good that came out of the Hallford’s association with Children’s thus far is that Madilyn got to enjoy getting dolled up and posing for pictures in the middle of NorthPark Center. Instead of driving an hour and a half from Paris for treatment, the Hallfords got to drive that distance for Madilyn to be treated extra special.
“Children’s Hospital is one of the best,” Hallford said.