Carson Leslie Foundation, Grant Halliburton Team Up to Support Kids With Cancer—And Deliver Smiles

The foundations—neighbors at Dallas' Pegasus Park—said they seek to provide fun surprises and mental health support to address the critical need for children battling cancer as they may also face depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions.

Two Dallas nonprofit organizations, Carson Leslie Foundation and Grant Halliburton Foundation, have partnered to help North Texas children battling cancer.

Carson Leslie Foundation and Grant Halliburton Foundation are neighbors at Pegasus Park in Dallas, and said they are teaming up to deliver smiles to kids battling cancer and their caregivers at Children’s Health Children’s Medical Center Dallas.

By partnering, they seek to provide surprises and mental health support to address the critical need for children battling cancer as they may also face depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions. The collaboration emphasizes the importance of these programs to support the mental health and well-being of children facing a cancer battle.

“Combatting the psychological effects is critical to helping children with cancer live normal lives now and in the future,” Annette Leslie, chief mission officer of Carson Leslie Foundation, said in a statement. “Similar to ‘chemo brain’ in adults, childhood cancer and its treatment may harm brain development, causing problems with attention, memory, and language, and leading to depression and anxiety. Our organizations have joined forces to provide much-needed mental health support to children with cancer and their families.”

The foundations said the collaboration was made possible by a $25,000 grant program available to the 35 nonprofit tenants of Water Cooler at Pegasus Park to encourage impactful collaboration in the social sector.

Via a competitive application process managed by Lyda Hill Philanthropies and The Dallas Foundation, collaborating tenants can apply for grants.

Delivering fun, hope, and comfort

Both organizations said they are joining forces to align existing projects. Pediatric cancer patients at Children’s Health Children’s Medical Center Dallas receive the following:

  • Each month Carson Leslie Foundation acts like the Tooth Fairy by delivering fun surprises to each child on the oncology floor at Children’s Health Children’s Medical Center Dallas.
  • A Hope Care Kit by Grant Halliburton Foundation are tote bags filled with mental health resources, self-care items, items to provide comfort, and a note of encouragement to the recipient.
  • A handmade lap quilt donated by Modern Quilt Guild of Dallas

Through the collaboration, Carson Leslie Foundation’s team of National Charity League, Mockingbird volunteers, along with Grant Halliburton Foundation staff, assembled fun surprises that were distributed to Children’s Health Children’s Medical Center Dallas on Jan. 23. The collaborative program will continue throughout 2024, the partners said.

A 2019 study by Warmerdam found that family members of children with cancer experienced elevated rates of mental health-related doctor’s visits for up to 20 years after the initial diagnosis. Mothers of children with cancer had a 40 percent higher rate of outpatient visits for mental health issues compared to the general population, while siblings had a 10 percent higher rate.

“Both of our organizations believe that positive change can be achieved through collective efforts and a commitment to compassion,” Kevin Hall, president of Grant Halliburton Foundation, said in a statement. “The powerful combination of our organizations encapsulates the spirit of unity we aim to instill within our collective Water Cooler community.”

The main building at Pegasus Park [Image: Pegasus Park]

Mental health resources for young people and families

The Water Cooler at Pegasus Park, sponsored by Lyda Hill Philanthropies in partnership with J. Small Investments and Montgomery Street Partners and managed by The Dallas Foundation, was envisioned as a social impact hub with a mission to foster community and improve productivity.

“We are thrilled to see Grant Halliburton Foundation and Carson Leslie Foundation partner together to accelerate their respective missions, which is exactly what the Water Cooler is all about,” Margaret Black, managing director of Lyda Hill Philanthropies, said in a statement.

Grant Halliburton Foundation was established in 2006 in memory of a Dallas teen who battled depression and bipolar disorder for several years before his suicide death at the age of 19. The foundation works to help families and young people through education, resources, and support.

The foundation has provided mental health and suicide prevention education and training to more than 325,000 students, educators, parents, and professionals since 2006. It also offers Here for Texas, which includes and the Here for Texas Mental Health Navigation Line.

The free community tools are available in English and Spanish and are intended to offer easy access for North Texans seeking mental health and substance use information and resources.

On mission to help teens and kids with cancer

Carson Leslie Foundation said it was established in 2010 to honor Carson’s dying wish, “Make sure they study those tumors in my brain because if those tumors can help some kid someday not die from cancer like I am, I’d like that, it’s hard to have cancer, and help the next kid with cancer.”

CLF works across three pillars: research, mental health of teens battling cancer, and advocacy.

CLF has invested and directed millions of dollars into medulloblastoma research and helped advance five laws benefitting the overall state of childhood cancer.

Its founder serves on the $6 billion Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Advisory Council for Childhood Cancers and has advocated to make childhood cancer research a priority.

CLF said those efforts have resulted in CPRIT increasing its investments in childhood cancer research from 3% to over 12%.

CLF said it supports the mental health struggles of teens and kids battling cancer with monthly gifts of encouragement. And, it said that with the support of the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation, CLF provides Under Armour backpacks, filled with comfort items and necessities, to newly diagnosed teens battling cancer at major institutions in Texas.

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