Cavaliers host gala for pediatric cancer research

November 10, 2011  |  Posted by Tom Withers, AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - While they wait for the NBA lockout to end, the Cleveland Cavaliers are putting their time off to good use.

With the season on hold because of the labor impasse, the Cavs turned their court over to help kids fighting cancer.

On Tuesday night, the team hosted a fashion runway show at Quicken Loans Arena for “Flashes of Hope,” a national nonprofit organization that raises money for pediatric cancer research and provides free photography portfolios to children fighting the disease. Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, coach Byron Scott and his staff greeted more than 1,000 guests on the red carpet prior to the event.

Members of the Cleveland Browns, including wide receiver Josh Cribbs, cornerback Joe Haden and backup quarterback Seneca Wallace were among the VIPs who walked the runway with children afflicted with cancer. Haden worked the crowd like a seasoned supermodel, slapping hands with guests and strutting to the amusement of safety Mike Adams and several other teammates sitting at a front-row table. .

Last year’s event raised over $350,000, and Allison Clarke, who began the program when her son, Quinn, was diagnosed with cancer as a 20-month-old, said “Flashes of Hope,” which now has chapters in 55 cities, has raised more than $500,000 in the past two years for research.

“It started 10 years ago when after my son got cancer for the first time, and one of his friends at the hospital passed away,” Clarke said. “I wondered if his mom had a photograph of him.”

Clarke said three weeks later the first photo shoot took place, and the program has since expanded to 55 cities nationwide. Her son, who was diagnosed with a rare tumor when he was nine, is now 12, and “doing well.”

“We go to the hospitals with amazing commercial photographers and stylists and they do these shoots that are like birthday parties for the kids, and then they give the families these wonderful packages.” she said.

Clarke credited the Cavs with making the program a huge success

“Once they got involved, it took it from zero to 100 pretty quickly,” she said/.

Gilbert, a father of five, walked down the runway with his wife, Jennifer. A few moments earlier, their son Nick, who was born with Neurofibromatosis (NF), a nerve disorder that causes tumors to grow anywhere in the body, walked the runway.

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