Chrisie Funari is on a mission to help. Funari is the president and founder of the Arizona Cancer Foundation for Children, a local nonprofit whose mission is to provide social, emotional and financial support to families who are managing the health and well-being of a loved one with pediatric cancer.
She was raised in Minnesota and then moved to Arizona to attend Arizona State University—and never left. She graduated with a degree in marketing and worked in advertising sales, but says always knew she wanted to have her own business—but it wasn’t until she lost her daughter Ava to cancer that she found herself with the passion to start a nonprofit.
In 2014, Funari’s personal experience inspired her to launch Arizona Cancer Foundation for Children, which offers everything from navigating hospitals, providing financial assistance and other support needed by families.
Can you tell us a little about Arizona Cancer Foundation?
The Arizona Cancer Foundation for Children’s (ACFC) mission is to provide social, emotional, and financial support to families managing the health and well-being of their child with pediatric cancer. ACFC provides a safe place where kids with cancer can be kids. Empathetic and caring, ACFC provides funds directly to families in need and distributes food and household essentials to those facing food scarcity and economic instability. Individual and family counseling, K9 therapy, family events, toys for children, and a parge facility that includes an art studio, imagination play area, theater, meditation room and more.
We’d like to know Ava a little bit—can you tell us a little about her?
Ava was a spunky child who loved pink and playing with her brother, Eli. While Ava lived with cancer most of her life, she always had a smile on her face. Ava loved playing with her friends and wanted so bad to be just like them.
Why are you passionate about what you do?
I am passionate about helping kids with cancer and their families because I have lived it. I know how devastating it can be emotionally and financially. I also know how isolating it can be. Having a child with cancer can be scary and overwhelming and to be able to provide relief to a family, provide the opportunity for cancer warrior to just be a kid, is very rewarding.
Tell us some of the ways Arizona Cancer Foundation for Children is able to help?
ACFC offers three different pillars of support—its Sunshine Social Program, its Therapy Emotional Program and its Financial Support. Last year, ACFC helped 317 families, provided 2,685 Sunshine Packs to cancer warriors and their siblings, and provided end-of-life support to 25 families. We want to help hundreds of more families across Arizona.
You have a gala coming up. Can you tell us about it?
Our annual gala serves as a cornerstone event for ACFC, allowing us to raise vital funds and awareness to support children battling cancer and their families. Your contribution enables ACFC to continue to provide critical financial support, along with necessary emotional and social support through our various programs at our facility. The Gala will be held Saturday, Nov. 11 at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia. Guests will witness the incredible journeys of young warriors who have triumphed over adversity and celebrate their courage and strength. They will also enjoy a gourmet dining experience and take part in a live auction followed by live entertainment. It will be a wonderful evening!
What are other ways the community can help?
There are many ways to help! You can make a one time or reoccurring donation, host a fundraiser, host a drive, become a sponsor, donate goods, new toys or non-perishable food items, or volunteer your time. You can also make your AZ Charitable tax credit donation to ACFC. All the ways to help our organization can be found online at https://azcancerfoundation.org/how-to-help/.
What do you enjoy personally about being here in Scottsdale?
I love Scottsdale for so many reasons—I love the weather and the outdoor activities. I love the shopping, dining, resort, and spa luxuries we have. But most of all I love the people!