Each year, community leaders put on their dancing shoes in hopes of winning the title that is earned at the Dancing with Our Stars Gala. All this fun and friendly competition among participants benefits the Children’s Tumor Foundation and supports the Arkansas chapter’s research and mission: to end and find a cure for neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that disturbs cell growth in the nervous system, causing tumors to form on nerve tissue.
CTF also provides support for children and families affected by NF. A portion of the proceeds is donated for grants to send Arkansas teens to the International NF Summer Camp held at Camp Kostopulos (Camp K).
Leading up to the grand event, we’re putting each star in the spotlight and introducing them on our blog. They will compete for the dancing title and mirror ball trophy at the Sept. 7 gala, in addition to soliciting contributions + votes prior to the event.
Meet Carla Emanuel (partnered with Brandyn Smith, Assistant Professor of Dance at Southern Arkansas University)
Carla Emanuel, a Wisconsin native, has spent the past decade helping bring prestige to the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at UAMS.
She and her husband, Dr. Peter Emanuel, have been raising funds, raising awareness and recruiting scores of physicians and scientists to the Institute since his recruitment in 2007.
Carla is a 10-year member of the Cancer Institute’s Auxiliary Board and is a constant presence in the Infusion clinics: sitting with patients through their chemo, helping them with everyday needs and comforting families. In addition to this tireless work, Carla recently started a new company called Red Garden Designs, LLC. Launched in June of 2017, the company promotes the sales of feather-themed items, conceived and designed by her to honor patients and caregivers who have battled through cancer.
Carla gets great joy from helping those with NF. She admires their bravery and strength and calls them her heroes.
Before the age of five, Carla developed juvenile rheumatoid arthritis so severe she could not walk for a period of time. With support from her artistic and musical family, she finally began walking again, and, through her mother, became involved in ballet, tap and jazz dancing. After developing a passion for it, she danced in Summer Stock and represented the USA in Romania in a jazz dance troupe.
Though this is her first competitive appearance in 35 years, she is most excited to bring this experience to help her heroes. And, as young children with NF have an increased risk for pediatric leukemia – a focus of study for her husband for the past 30 years – Carla’s dancing is another continuation of her unyielding service to Arkansans.