Category: Blog


Addi’s Faith Foundation wins $25,000

In a test of endurance, first you’ve got to last.

And endure they did, the tens of thousands of runners from all 50 U.S. states and 47 countries pacing through the 26.2-mile course in the 2023 Chevron Houston Marathon.

“Chevron believes in the power of human energy,” Bruce Niemeyer, president of Americas Exploration and Production for Chevron, said before the race. There may be no better demonstration of that than the tens of thousands of runners, thousands of volunteers and a quarter of a million spectators at the event.


2023 marks the 18th year that we have served as the title sponsor for the Chevron Houston Marathon. More than 120 of our employees volunteered at this year’s event, helping at the event expo and passing out water along the course and medals to finishers.


In addition to lending support staff to the event, Chevron donated $75,000 to three charities through our Run for a Reason campaign. Receiving $25,000 donations each were The Arbor School, Houston Haven and Addi’s Faith Foundation.

The Arbor School helps enable special needs children to reach their full potential through education and empowerment. Houston Haven provides low-cost housing to out-of-town cancer patients and their families visiting the Houston Medical Center. Addi’s Faith Foundation is dedicated to ending childhood cancer through pediatric cancer research. The foundation also provides financial and emotional support to families caring for children with cancer.

“We have so many families in need that are coming to us during one of the most devastating times in their lives—they’re fighting for their child’s life,” said Amber Bender, co-founder and executive director of Addi’s Faith Foundation. “This time often comes with a lot of excess bills during a time when their income is reduced, because they are at treatment and spending time in the hospital. More and more families are coming to us in need, and this is really going to help us.”

Addi’s Faith Foundation was a recipient of Chevron’s Run for a Reason campaign donation.

Since 2013, Chevron has donated $700,000 through the Run for a Reason campaign, benefiting more than a hundred charities.


This year was the 51st anniversary of the Chevron Houston Marathon, the largest single-day spectator event in the city. Finishing first for the men was Dominic Ondoro of Kenya with a time of 2:10:36. Ondoro narrowly edged Ethiopia’s Tsedat Ayana at the finish line, who came in second place by just 1 second. Hitomi Niiya of Japan was the winning women’s runner, finishing with a time of 2:19:24.

For most of the marathoners, the day was about more than finishing first; it was also about the journey along the way.

“In 2019 I had a seizure, and the doctors found out that I had something in my brain called an AVM (arteriovenous malformation),” Tribo said. “It’s like a bundle of nerves that shouldn’t be there and kind of short-circuits your brain a little bit. In February of 2020 I had brain surgery. It was successful, but after I came out of that I thought, ‘I should do more things.’ When you come out of brain surgery, life becomes short real fast. I’ve always been a runner. So, I thought, I should run a marathon.”

Runners can choose to run in support of a nonprofit organization, and Tribo chose Addi’s Faith Foundation.

“I run every year for Addi’s Faith,” Tribo said. “I have three kids, and I have a couple of friends who have had children with pediatric cancer. And their organization is phenomenal, very near and dear to my heart.”

LINK TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE  |  January 24, 2023  | Newsroom


Striking for Gold – Team Paige

More Info – Striking for Gold

Team Paige Facebook Page

“In January 2014, four words changed our lives: “Your child has cancer.” Our daughter, Paige, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia. She battled the cancer beast three times in less than three years before stepping into Heaven in October 2016.

As we discovered throughout our journey, no family fights alone. We were blessed by the support we received during Paige’s treatment and will be donating proceeds from this year’s event to a few local childhood cancer organizations. Like always, Striking for Gold brings us together to make a difference in the lives of childhood cancer families!”

08.24.22 Houston Chronical Article

Huffman family whose child had eye cancer hosting fundraiser for Addi’s Faith, the nonprofit that helped them

David Taylor, Staff writer
Aug. 24, 2022


Little Wes McCauley is doing great and adapting to his new life and cancer free. He's with his family, Steven, Brooke, Whitney, Waverly, and Wimberly. - Steve McCauley
Little Wes McCauley is doing great and adapting to his new life and cancer free. He’s with his family, Steven, Brooke, Whitney, Waverly, and Wimberly. – Steve McCauley


Addi took the chemo and radiation after her diagnosis at 16 months but unfortunately, nothing worked. She died just before her second birthday. - Amber Bender
Addi took the chemo and radiation after her diagnosis at 16 months but unfortunately, nothing worked. She died just before her second birthday. – Amber Bender


The Bender family ready for one of the favorite activities--an Astros baseball game! From left, Riley, Amber, Trent, Tony, and Addi. - Amber Bender
The Bender family ready for one of the favorite activities–an Astros baseball game! From left, Riley, Amber, Trent, Tony, and Addi. – Amber Bender


Amber Bender and her daughter Addi enjoy a ride on a carousel in happier days. Addi was diagnosed with a brain tumor and passed away. Her mom and dad have created a foundation to raise money for pediatric cancer. - Amber Bender
Amber Bender and her daughter Addi enjoy a ride on a carousel in happier days. Addi was diagnosed with a brain tumor and passed away. Her mom and dad have created a foundation to raise money for pediatric cancer. – Amber Bender


One good turn deserves another. A grateful Huffman couple is showing their appreciation for help they received during the pandemic as their son bravely fought and beat a rare form of eye cancer. Now, Steven and Brooke McCauley are spearheading a fundraiser this Saturday for Addi’s Faith Foundation who stepped in and provided the family with financial, emotional, and spiritual help.

West McCauley was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma in January of 2020, just days after he turned 10 months old.

BUILDING AWARENESS: 10-year-old Houston cancer patient has been sworn in at over 100 police departments

His distraught father took to Facebook, and that Friday posted a letter he wrote to his son. By Sunday, he had over 20,000 comments on the post. Through the posts, they discovered a doctor in New York who many said could provide the best treatment for their son.

That following week, they flew to New York and began treatment while all around them, the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to rage.

“They removed his left eye immediately, did three rounds of chemo, and we made it one year cancer free,” his dad said.

Then the devastating news came that the cancer was back. Doctors were forced to remove his right eye.

“He can’t see. He’s lost both of his eyes but we’re cancer free,” Steven McCauley said.

McCauley said they are on pins and needles hoping the fight with cancer is over.

“Up until about five years old, they (doctors) told us that those cells can still mutate and develop,” he said. He’s still not out of the woods.

“Pediatric cancer patients are four times more likely to have a reoccurrence or a second type of cancer later in their life,” he said, but he’s taking it a day at a time.

The little guy is as happy as can be and learning to walk with a cane.

“He has a visual therapist. He’s enrolled in school at three years old and he’s doing great. He surprises and shocks us every day,” his dad said.

HALLIE’S HEROES: Surgery gives teen opportunity to help other kids with cancer

McCauley said West realizes he’s blind but was too young to have an in-depth conversation on the consequences.

One of the hardest parts for McCauley was last year when they were in New York to remove the second eye.

“I just remember crying. He was playing with the lamp, turn it on and off and would say, ‘Light.’ Now he asks, ‘Where’s the light?’ The hardest part was just knowing that your son was going to live in the dark the rest of his life,” his dad said.

During the entire ordeal, financial times were tough. They couldn’t work, had other children in the home, the expense of flying back and forth, and medical bills began to pile up.

“We reached out to Addi’s Faith for assistance, and they blessed us with the monetary help,” he said.

The phone never stopped ringing. The organization paid a mortgage one month, or a car note the next, and was always reaching out to them to help, even with the small things.

“We stayed in the hospital downtown and they would run dinner to the kids back at home and whoever in the family was watching them,” he said.

Tony and Amber Bender understand the struggle. The Kingwood family lost their daughter Addi to a brain tumor. She was diagnosed at 16 months old and endured the treatments from brain surgery to low radiation, and nothing really worked. She passed away a couple of weeks before her second birthday.

The Benders founded Addi’s Faith Foundation in honor of their daughter to help fund pediatric cancer research while assisting families like the McCauleys.

The relationship has blossomed between the two families. Now, the McCauleys and their supporters, who call themselves Warriors for West, are teaming up with AFF for a fundraising event this Saturday to give back to the organization that helped them in their darkest hour.

The “Kids Kicking Cancer” event is set for Saturday, Aug. 27 at the Crosby Fair and Rodeo grounds, 14920 FM 2100 in Crosby. Admission is $20 for adults and $10 for kids ages 6 to 17. Children five and under are admitted free. The fundraiser will feature boutique vendors, food trucks, a kid’s cooldown and play zone, a beer and wine garden, and live and silent auctions. There will be a lineup of bands playing throughout the day. Patrons can participate in the sanctioned BBQ cookoff, cornhole tournament, or the off-road vehicle show-n-shine contest.

“It is because of their mission, along with our desire to pay it forward, that Warriors for West is partnering with Addi’s Faith Foundation to host the Kids Kicking Cancer fundraiser to support pediatric cancer families and help fund pediatric cancer research,” McCauley said.

For more than 14 years, AFF has been diligently raising funds for childhood cancer research and helping families dealing with the cancer diagnosis. The nonprofit paid out a $1 million pledge recently and is increasing their next donation to $2 million.

The donations go directly to aid Vidya Gopalakrishnan, Ph.D., associate professor, pediatrics, at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“They are actually doing some of the research on the tumor cells from Addi’s actual tumor. They’ve been growing it in the lab and so that’s special,” she said.

The funds are helping expedite treatment in a segment of cancer research that is poorly funded because of its rarity, but funding is slowly increasing thanks to advocacy groups such as Addi’s Faith Foundation.

“Support from Addi’s Faith Foundation has allowed us to pursue early stage, basic and translational research, typically high-risk, high-reward, projects on pediatric brain tumors,” Gopalakrishnan said. “We have been able to study the chromatin architecture of pediatric brain tumors and show a connection with response to immunotherapy. We have succeeded not only in integrating basic science discoveries with a therapeutic application but have also gathered sufficient preliminary evidence to apply for federal and state research funding. This is funding that may not otherwise be received without those initial findings.”

For more information on Addi’s Foundation or the fundraiser, visit their website at

Written By
David Taylor

David Taylor is the reporter/photographer for Houston Community Newspapers / Houston Chronicle and writes news, sports and investigative pieces. He is a member of the Texas Press Association and has won numerous state awards.

He attended Rice University and the University of Houston and has led the news rooms of several newspapers including The Sentinel Newspapers, The Pasadena Citizen, The Examiner Newspapers, and The Observer Group.



Imagine this situation

I’d like you to imagine this situation. Cast yourself as the person in this story and picture this… You have 3 little children and life is good. You’re living the dream. You don’t have any real worries and most of your anxiety comes from the never-ending piles of laundry and toys littering the living room floor. One day, you notice your normal and healthy little girl keeps tilting her head to one side. It’s obvious enough that it causes you to worry, so you bring her to the pediatrician. He tries not to alarm you but when he sends you on for further testing your heart quickens. A few unsettling days pass before you meet with a specialist who takes x-rays yet can’t give you any explanations. Your daughter is going to need an MRI. At this point your initial concern has turned into full-fledged fear. More nerve-wracking days go by before the time comes to have the MRI. You leave your house well before the sun rises and drive downtown. You slip a little yellow hospital gown on your baby girl and try to hold it together as they wheel her down the corridor. Then you wait. And wait. And wait until a nurse comes and you’re finally led to a small room where the curtain is drawn around you. That’s when they deliver the blow…your daughter has a brain tumor. The weight of those words is crushing, and you can hardly breathe. An immediate whirlwind of admission paperwork, consents, doctors, images, swirl around and you struggle to keep up.

Thank God, your loving spouse is by your side to help you navigate this nightmare. Time has stopped, yet somehow accelerated at the same time. You have other children who need to be picked up from school. Thank God for grandparents you can call upon for help. Finally, you get to see your daughter who has yet to waken from the procedure. You are not prepared for what you see. She is intubated and covered from head to toe in wires and monitors. Clearly, you won’t be leaving this place anytime soon. You weren’t prepared to spend the night and your other kids need you so you make the decision to send your spouse home while you stay the night in the pediatric intensive care unit. Thank God for friends who come running and bring you a change of clothes and a toothbrush and spend a sleepless night with you so you don’t have to be alone. That long day, turns into weeks, turns into months. Your daughter isn’t healthy enough to return home, so you alternate home and hospital with your spouse, ships passing in the night. Thank God the travel to and from the hospital is less than an hour. You’re not like the other families you meet who have come from across the country and don’t get to alternate between home and hospital like you do. Families who don’t see each other for months at a time. Thank God for friends who come visit. The hospital can be a very lonely place. Your daughter is approaching her 3rd month in intensive care and the bills are piling up quickly. Thank God you have good insurance and a flexible job that allows you to keep earning your paycheck. That never-ending pile of laundry and all the other everyday tasks that were hard before are virtually impossible now. Thank God you have neighbors who let your dog out and cut your grass when you don’t even need to ask. Thank God for meals delivered. There’s no time to go to the grocery store much less cook a decent meal. It helps and you feel better knowing that your family doesn’t have to eat fast food 3 meals a day. Thank God for your church community. These diligent prayer warriors who lift you up so faithfully that you literally feel their power.

In case you haven’t figured it out, that’s our story and that’s the beginning of Addi’s Faith Foundation. Throughout that story, you heard “Thank God” repeated many times. Even in our darkest hour there was still so much to be thankful for. So many opportunities to thank God for good even in the bad. Most of those blessings came to us from friends, family, and our community. These people were acting as the hands and feet of Christ and what they taught me is the true meaning of love thy neighbor.

This, my friends, is how Addi’s Faith Foundation was born. We saw then, and still see all the time today, so many families who are struggling beyond what is bearable. Having a child with cancer is devastating but it’s even harder when you’re a single parent, or you were barely making ends meet before the diagnosis, or you don’t live in a community who rallies around you, or you have to travel great distances to get the proper treatment, or you don’t have the knowledge that people are lifting you up in prayer and loving you along the way.

Those are the issues that Addi’s faith Foundation is trying to address. Sure, we offer great support by paying off an overdue electric bill or providing a month’s mortgage payment. But it’s so much more than that! Along with that financial support comes love and prayers and it’s making their journey a little less lonely. A little more bearable. Addi’s Faith Foundation gets to be the hands and feet of Christ and I know, both from experience and because so many tell me that it makes all the difference in the world.

So, thank you for taking an active role in spreading this love. Your gifts of time and money allows us to have an impact on so many and we simply couldn’t do it without you.

Amber Bender
Executive Director
Addi’s Faith Foundation


Houston Medical Center Childhood Cancer Hospitals

Addi’s Faith Foundation works with social workers from all over the country to provide financial assistance for families. We receive the most referrals, though, from three local Houston area hospitals which are in the Texas Medical Center.

The Texas Medical Center is the largest medical city in the world and there are over 106,000 employees that work there.

(Photo from

Texas Children’s Hospital – Cancer and Hematology Centers

Texas Children’s Hospital – Cancer and Hematology Centers has 4 locations and sees patients from each of the 50 states and from 56 different countries. The four Texas locations are: Houston, Katy, The Woodlands, and McAllen. An average of 95 children are inpatient at TCH each day.

MD Anderson – Children’s Cancer Hospital

MD Anderson – Children’s Cancer Hospital has five main locations specifically for young people and their families. MD Anderson’s Research Building also houses the pediatric neuro-oncology lab that is dedicated to AFF’s namesake, Addison Faith Bender.

Read more about the lab here.

Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital

Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital prides itself in care that continues seamlessly into adulthood. Memorial Hermann works in collaboration with MD Anderson to offer new ways to diagnose childhood brain and spinal tumors.

Addi’s Faith Foundation works hard to place itself in pathways of families and patient advocates in the Houston Medical Center. Our hope is to be supportive of families that are in childhood cancer treatment and to further enable brilliant researchers to improve childhood cancer treatments and ultimately end childhood cancer.


Family Financial Assistance Process

Applications are received through our website HERE, and are accepted from parents directly and from parents through their social workers.

Along with the application, required documents are a recent bill that can be used to make a payment and a diagnosis/treatment confirmation letter form a social worker or oncologist on letterhead. Beginning in 2022, AFF will consider requests up to $2,500.

Our Family Financial Assistance committee meets on the 3rd Monday of the month via video chat to review the applications and approve a grant amount. Each member of the committee uses a rubric to score the application, with preference being given to Houston area families and brain cancer patients.

Following the committee meeting, our Director of Family Relief pays the bills directly and contacts the family or social worker to let them know that a payment has been made or is on the way!

Requirements for a family to apply for financial assistance:
    • A cancer diagnosis of any type or stage
    • Patient under the age of 18
    • Patient currently in treatment for cancer
    • Patient currently in the United States

In 2023, AFF surpassed
that was given as financial assistance for families!

Tips for applying for Family Financial Assistance:

    • Include a photo of your child or family! The FFA committee loves to see sweet faces and really connects to applications that include the personal touch!
    • Attach your most expensive bill(s). Most often, AFF applies the total grant amount to one bill. We are also not able to make advance payments past 3 months in the future, so a smaller bill might “cap out” at 3 months when a larger grant amount could have been given.

Family Financial Assistance FAQs:

Can families re-apply for financial assistance?
  • Yes! Families may apply once per calendar year, up to three times, while the child is still in still in treatment.
How long after an application is submitted will a payment be made?
  • Complete applications that are submitted by second Monday of each month will be reviewed that month. FFA committee meetings are on the third Monday of the month and payments are made within the following two weeks.
I really need help with hospital parking or groceries, does AFF help with those costs?
  • Gift cards are occasionally available, but please apply and include one of your current bills! We hope to make room in your budget for those costs by taking care of a larger, reoccurring bill.

Childhood Cancer Diet

Foods to try:

    • Eggs are filled with protein and can be cooked with as much or as little seasonings as the patient would like
    • Nuts can be taken on the go and are packed with protein
    • Protein powder can be added to homemade shakes or to a bottle of water
    • Cream cheese and nut butters can be added to fruit or crackers and are filled with protein as well as calories
    • Granola or oat flour can be used in baking to add calories to most batters
    • Avocados are filled with good calories and can be eaten on toast, mixed in a shake, or even mashed up for babies to eat

Foods to avoid:

    • Unpasteurized dairy
    • Unwashed fruits and veggies
    • Raw or undercooked meat
    • Cold or undercooked deli meats and hot dogs

These foods can cause foodborne illnesses, and people with suppressed immune systems are at a higher risk of this.

General tips:

    • Avoid “fat free” alternatives
    • Pack healthy snacks for hospital visits
    • Try using the grocery pick up option at a local grocery store to get fresh food while avoiding large crowds
    • Pack or serve food in fun/colorful containers to make the child excited to eat

Recipes to try:

Studies show that breastmilk can protect against childhood cancer. Other studies also show that breastmilk contains a protein-lipid that causes death to cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected. Combined with health benefits for mom and emotional benefits for both the child and mother, breastfeeding is a great choice for those that are able. The nutritious milk can also be added to baby food and baked goods to increase their nutritional content!

Addi’s Faith Foundation works to support families in their efforts to feed their children healthy foods during cancer treatment. While inpatient, hospitals usually do not provide a meal for the parent or guardian. Families can request a mead delivery gift card HERE. AFF also caters freshly made meals each month to Texas Children’s Hospital and MD Anderson in Houston.



Mom Shares Why There is a Need for Pediatric Cancer Support

Have you ever had to scramble and adjust your schedule when your kiddo comes down with a fever? Perhaps you’ve had to miss work when you REALLY needed to be there, or cancel an important meeting, or miss a fun play date that your other kiddo was super excited about.

As a mom, you know that when your child is sick the “regularly scheduled programming” of your day is shot. Instead, you spend your time fetching popsicles, dispensing medicines, washing soiled sheets and disinfecting everything in sight hoping that this bug doesn’t hit everyone in the house like the last one did.

Can you imagine… doing that every day for three years? 

Can you imagine…if instead of strep throat or a fever, your child had cancer?

Instead of missing work for a day or two, you’re missing it for weeks or months at a time.

It happens.

In fact, it happens more than most of us care to think about.

My daughter was one of those 300. At 16 months old, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and my greatest fear became reality. Instantaneously, my world was flipped upside down as I struggled to comprehend those four dreaded words, “Your daughter has cancer.”

“There was no time to prepare. No easing into it. One day life was “normal” and the next it was not.”

Her first hospitalization lasted 3 months. At the time, I was fortunate enough to be at home raising my 3 children. Had I still been working outside of the home; I most definitely would have needed to quit. My husband and I became ships passing in the night. He would take over the hospital shift to be with Addi. I would go home to see my boys and do chores that don’t stop just because your heart feels as if it has. Then, we would switch again….and again…and again.

We were blessed though. Fortunate enough to be able to survive on one income, to have lots of help from friends, to live close to top-notch medical care, and to have decent insurance. We had it better than most and it was still hard. So. Very. Hard.

I’m skipping, of course, a whole lot of the story but Addi went through hell. She endured 13 surgeries, multiple rounds of chemotherapy, proton radiation, and countless sticks pricks and procedures in attempt to save her life.

Nothing worked. On December 4th, 2007, I held her in my arms as Addi took her final breaths.”

During Addi’s battle, I encountered two issues that I simply couldn’t ignore.”

  1. There is a severe lack of funding for pediatric cancer research.
  2. Caring for a child with cancer requires help and lots of it.

Desperate to change the current realities of childhood cancer, my husband and I started Addi’s Faith Foundation.

Less than 4% of funding is allocated towards pediatric cancer research. Think about it…out of every available research dollar, only 4 cents are working to find cures for childhood cancers. This lack of funding is precisely why my daughter was treated with 40-year-old, hand-me-down drugs that were designed for adults, proven to be extremely toxic, and worse of all…ineffective.

Addi’s Faith Foundation funds leading research so that safer and more effective treatments can be found.

Having a child with cancer is an all-consuming juggling act. You continuously oscillate between doing everything humanly possible to cure your child and managing rest of your family and daily necessities of life. The appointments, hospital stays, scans, treatments, and sick days are constant and the bills ever-increasing. Paid time off runs out. Income is cut in half or becomes non-existent. The PAST DUE bills clutter counter tops with new ones being added every day forcing decisions that no parent should ever have to make: Sticking to the treatment protocol or keeping your home. Going for lab work or keeping the lights on.

Here’s where Addi’s Faith Foundation steps in to provide emotional and financial support to families as they care for their child with cancer. Covering expenses like utilities, mortgages, car payments, and more, AFF will pay bills directly so that parents can focus on the health of their child.

Parents who are caring for a child with cancer already have enough stress. Our mission is to help them through this tough time so they can better focus on helping their child get better.Family Assistance Application

You might think that there’s not a whole lot that YOU can do about such a big problem. Well, you would be wrong. EVERYONE can DO SOMETHING, and EVERYTHING helps!


Together, we can positively impact the world of childhood cancer. Will you join me?

Forever grateful – Amber Bender

Addi’s Mommy – Founder – Executive Director
Addi’s Faith Foundation