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BIRMINGHAM – The desire of an 8-year-old boy to help other kids fighting cancer has become an annual event that’s drawing international attention in the dance world and raising needed funding for pediatric cancer research. The 7th Annual Tapping Out Childhood Cancer Gala will take place Sunday, Sept. 27 at the Alabama Theatre (1817 3rd Ave. N., Birmingham, AL 35203) at 2 p.m. A VIP after-party will be held at Gabrella Manor (8912 4th Ave. S., Birmingham 35206) immediately following the performance at 5 p.m.
Alex Swader, 14, of Mt. Olive, a cancer survivor and award-winning dancer, organized Tapping out Childhood Cancer after being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in 2007 and undergoing three surgeries and eight months of chemotherapy. While he was still in a hospital bed receiving treatment, Swader was dreaming of his return to dance and thinking of what he could do to help other kids going through a similar experience.
Tickets are $25 for the show or $40 for both the show and the VIP after-party. VIP after- party tickets are $10 for dancers who participated in the show. Children under age 8 are admitted free. Tickets are available at www.childrensal.kintera.org/dancersfightingcancer.
"It’s really important for the patients and their families, especially those who attend as my VIP guests, to see a cancer survivor like myself living a normal life after treatments,” Swader said. “Not only surviving, but really living a normal life. Having so many dancers supporting this cause and also supporting kids with cancer makes me feel like I'm on my way to achieving my goal that I set six years ago which was to have dancers from all across the country showing love and support for kids with cancer. I'm proud to be a part of a dance community that goes gold to support childhood cancer every September.”
Through his Dancers Fighting Cancer organization and events like the gala, Swader and his fellow dancers have raised more than $100,000 for cancer research at Children’s. His efforts were recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals when they presented him with Young Philanthropist Award in 2012.
The Tapping Out Childhood Cancer Gala is a family-friendly event that showcases local talent and dance styles. The show will include performances by at least a dozen dancers from studios across the Birmingham metro area. This year, they will be joined by dancers from all over the United States and Canada who are members of Artists Giving Hope, a non-profit organization that encourages and inspires acts of compassion and kindness through dance and the performing arts.
Children’s of Alabama is the 10th busiest pediatric medical center in the United States. The Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children's of Alabama is the state's only comprehensive center for pediatric cancer and other blood disorders, treating 90 percent of all such patients diagnosed in Alabama. Specialized pediatric services exist for all forms of childhood cancer, leukemia, brain and spinal cord tumors, hemophilia and other bleeding disorders and sickle cell diseases in the state. The program is a partnership between Children’s of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology. The Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders is home to the only pediatric programs in blood and marrow transplantation, childhood cancer survivorship, developmental therapeutics, pediatric neuro-oncology, pediatric hemophilia and sickle cell disease in the state. The cancer program is ranked among the Top 50 in the nation by US News & World Report. More information is available at www.childrensal.org/committedtoacure.