Every day, children and teenagers are drafted into a battle they never signed up for, a mission they have no choice but to fight valiantly and bravely.
Childhood and adolescent cancer is perhaps one of life’s cruelest realities, and while nothing can lessen the impact of a life-altering diagnosis, the Baller Dream Foundation seeks to celebrate those brave warriors who must fight the fight.
Born from a concert tailgate party in Saratoga Springs, New York, the Baller Dream Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to providing exceptional experiences, in-hospital activities, and family support for cancer patients aged 29 and younger – but with a twist. While that original idea for the organization grew from founder Frank DeBlasi’s celebration of his own cancer survival, it wasn’t until the niece of a family friend was diagnosed that the true vision and direction for the Baller Dream Foundation became clear: this new organization would celebrate children as the strong, brave warriors they were.
At the Baller Dream Foundation, patients are lauded for their strength and resiliency and thus referred to as “Ballers,” a nod to the modern-day term suggesting that someone is at the top of their game – doing well and in control. It’s a title fitting for these tenacious cancer fighters who are incredibly resilient, courageous, and exceptionally deserving of recognition.
But it’s not only a difference in semantics that truly sets the Baller Dream Foundation apart from similar organizations; their long-term commitment to the Ballers themselves and their families solidly places the organization in a league of its own.
“We build lifelong relationships with our Ballers and their families,” said Paige Maddux, Executive Director of The Baller Dream Foundation Las Vegas. “From diagnosis to treatment, through remission, and beyond, the Baller Dream Foundation provides unwavering support and guidance in all avenues of their life.”
To date, the Baller Dream Foundation has worked with 1,000 Ballers in Southern Nevada, providing one-of-a-kind experiential gifts celebrating them and honoring the work they’ve done in fighting their diseases.
In recognition of September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the charity is sharing the stories of three Baller teenagers who were gifted with luxury fashion and shopping experiences that honored their interests and valiant fight these past years.
Alyssa Rodriguez is an 18-year-old Las Vegas native referred to the Baller Dream Foundation by Cure4theKids. She should have been looking forward to her senior prom but instead was trying to recover from her metastatic renal cell carcinoma diagnosis. The Baller team sprang into action, putting together a last-minute, dream-worthy prom celebration complete with all the bells and whistles. Alyssa’s ultimate prom experience included a shopping trip to Downtown Summerlin for all the necessities, including a dress, shoes, jewelry, and her favorite Saint Laurent (YSL) perfume to top it off. The team also gifted her a signature YSL clutch bag – because, after all, the bag always makes the outfit.
From there, it was off to be pampered at Sparkles Beauty Bar in Henderson with hair and makeup before she and a friend got their nails done at their favorite local nail salon. To top off the experience, BEST Agency provided masquerade-themed accessories, and the Baller team arranged transportation to and from the prom before ending the night at Dave and Buster's.
For fellow 18-year-old Julian Trujillo, it’s all about clothes and sneakers. The teenager, diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma in December 2020, loves fast and exotic cars, as well as designer clothes. For his gift, the Baller team put together a glamorous staycation experience, providing a touch of independence with luxury. Julian and his close friend were treated to a stay at the Waldorf Astoria, one of the most luxurious names in hospitality, as well as a $2,000 shopping spree at GOAT and Urban Necessities – a sneakerhead’s dream featuring hard to find and vintage sneakers located in The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.
In the Las Vegas hospitality industry, a polished and professional look can often make or break you, and for 15-year-old Darlin Dominguez, who was also diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma in 2020, he’s wasting no time getting started. The teenager, who is hoping to land his first job while still finishing high school, was gifted a visit to Mastroianni Fashions for the full-service treatment—including a new business-appropriate wardrobe to help him land that perfect job.
Vice-President of Mastroianni Fashions, Athan Lazarou, and his team made sure that Darlin was perfectly styled and custom fitted not only for work but also for back to school – including clothes, sneakers, socks, and belts, perfect for class, school dances, and quinceañearas — all the things 15-year-old boys should be focused on! The Baller team will also be helping Darlin with crafting his resume, conducting mock interviews, and serving as character references.