Redskin Garcon and Paisano's are helping 'Princess' Tara beat cancer

Redskin Pierre Garcon and Paisano's pizza are teaming together to help a local 8 year old girl win the cancer battle for her life. Photo: Tara and Pierre Garcon (Photo provided by the Sankner family)

WASHINGTON, September 6, 2013 — Tara Sankner, also known as Princess Tara, became somewhat of a local celebrity in Chantilly, Virginia a suburb of Washington D.C. when the residents lined the street on May 3, 2013 in a flash mob to cheer the princess and her royal court.

Now she is becoming well known to the Washington Redskins as well.

Tara has astrocytoma, a type of brain cancer. Astrocytoma can be treated, but is never cured. The eight year old has been through 30 weeks of chemotherapy and is expected to go through 36 more.

Tara has kept up hope and has shown an amazing amount of resilience in the face of her illness, but her parents have said that their lives have been a roller coaster since February when they found out their daughter was ill. The out of pocket medical costs alone can be overwhelming for a family with a chronically ill child.

The kindnesses of others has helped make a difficult time a little more tolerable.

Two of those people are Washington Redskins wide receiver, Pierre Garcon and CEO of local pizzeria Paisano’s, Fouad Qreitem. Qreitem had wanted to do something for Tara during National Childhood Cancer Awareness month and approached Garcon to see if he would be willing to participate as well. The ‘Let’s Take Care of Tara’ campaign will run September 3rd – September 30th at all 22 Paisano’s locations in the Northern Virginia and Maryland area.

Every Tuesday in September, Paisano’s will donate 10 percent of any order directly to Tara’s family if the customer mentions the campaign. The money will go to help the family with Tara’s medical expenses. Additionally, the customer who orders the most during the regular football season will get their food delivered by Pierre Garcon.

Garcon has also pledged to donate $2,500 toward Tara’s medical expenses for every touchdown he scores against Philadelphia on Monday night during the Redskin’s season opener.

Tara became ‘Princess Tara’ thanks to Tom Mitchell, the founder and president of the nonprofit organization, Stillbrave.

Stillbrave is an organization dedicated to helping children with cancer and their families with non-medical assistance during treatment in the Washington D.C. area.

Mitchell created the organization after he had lost his daughter to Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Tara’s family originally called the organization asking for some help with cleaning and small home repair projects.

Mitchell went with Tara to one of her chemotherapy treatments to keep her company through the long, stressful process. To pass the time, the two of them watched a Disney movie. Prompted by the show, the 8 year-old looked up at Tom and said “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be a princess, that’s my dream.”

“So I made that dream come true,” Mitchell told the local newspaper, Centerview, a part of The Connection Newspapers.

Social media helped spread the word of Princess Tara’s story and the community responded with enormous support. On the day of the parade, hundreds of people lined the parade’s path, wearing their beast and carrying signs of support. Basically a “flash mob” was called for, and they came.

On the day of the event, Tara answered the doorbell to find “Tattoo” Tom standing on her front porch dressed as Prince Charming with a horse drawn carriage waiting behind him.

Tara was then dressed in her princess gown and helped into the carriage for a ride. As they rounded the corner, she was shocked to find crowds cheering and waving at her.

Tara’s mother “was only expecting a few spectators” and could not believe what she found, Tammy Sankner told the local paper. People were 10 deep in some places, they were carrying signs and other little girls had picked out their own princess gowns to wear while they waited for a wave from Princess Tara.

“I think we have touched a little girl’s life,” Mitchell told Centerview. “We have made Tara a princess for the day, but you know what, with everybody that was there we have touched a community. We all got to be part of something magical, something beautiful. It was no joke. I was crying. I was shaking. There was magic happening.”

Tammy Sankner expressed to the Communities@WashingtonTimes her gratitude to the local community, “It’s just heartwarming to say the least. It makes us so happy that there is such support in the community. It’s amazing how’s my people are coming out to help her and us.”

Washington Redskins fans do not need any additional motivation to cheer for the team on Monday night but this is a good enough cause to get even non football fans rooting for the home team.

To show support for Tara and her family, donations can be made by texting #TD4Tara during Monday night’s game.

The above report was compiled using information available from multiple sources including personal interviews, radio broadcasts and transcripts, social media, publicly available records, transcripts and public reports. No single source was used.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Susan L Ruth

Susan L. Ruth is a long-time Washington, DC resident with extensive ties throughout the community.  She is a genealogical researcher and writer, and is an active volunteer in the Northern Virginia competitive swimming community.  Susan previously worked providing life-skills to head injured adults. 

Susan and her husband Kerry currently live in Northern Virginia with their three sons, Ryley, Casey and Jack and their American Bulldog, Leila.


Contact Susan L Ruth


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