Waner Children's Vascular Anomaly Foundation's Inaugural Sweethearts Gala: Chocolates for a Cure

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The Waner Children's Vascular Anomaly Foundation ("the Foundation") will hold its inaugural Sweethearts Gala: Chocolates for a Cure, at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kansas City on January 23, 2009

The Waner Children's Vascular Anomaly Foundation ("the Foundation") will hold its inaugural Sweethearts Gala: Chocolates for a Cure, at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kansas City on January 23, 2009. This much anticipated event will benefit children and families in need of financial assistance and guidance in pursuing medical treatment for vascular anomalies, many of which are life threatening, as well as research and training efforts.

Local media legend Larry Moore and his wife, Ruth Moore, are proud to serve as Honorary Chairs, joining Sherri and Edward Foster as Chairs of the Gala. This year's "Sweethearts" are Milton Waner, M.D., honored for his contributions and philanthropy in the treatment of vascular anomalies and Rachel Foster, whose courageous journey has inspired so many and has served as the catalyst for establishment of the Foundation.

Guests such as the Kansas City Chiefs' Running Back Kolby Smith will be treated to chocolate and coffee indulgences, while mingling with a dedicated and august group who care deeply about the Foundation's mission and who will make this annual event their own. Some expected guests include Dr. and Mrs. James Case, Dr. and Mrs. Theodore Foster, Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Jernigan, Mr. Alexander "Sandy" and Christine Kemper, Mrs. Joseph McGee, Mr. and Mrs. Steve Mos, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Privitera, Tracy Stern, Mr. and Mrs. Byron Thompson, Mr. and Mrs. Ted Wiedeman and more.

Sponsors include: Answers Design Group, Avantair, Big Picture Productions, Inc., Community Financial Education Foundation, Measetique Jewels, Polsinelli | Shalton | Flannigan | Suelthaus, PC, Premier Entertainment, ReMax Plaza and Salontea.

The evening will be emceed by Larry Moore, who also will serve as auctioneer for the Live Auction that includes unique experiences such as a 4 hour jet (Piaggio) lease for 7 people, a dinner hosted by the Archbishop in the newly renovated Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, 3 trips to Manhattan complete with airfare, a luxury hotel, a tea party at lifestyle personality Tracy Stern's new tea salon hosted by Ms. Stern, two tickets to designer CHOCHENG's fashion show during NY Fashion Week, tickets to a Broadway show, front row seats to a Yankees game, and much more.

The Foundation was founded by Milton Waner M.D., Edward Foster and Sherri Foster in 2007. It is dedicated to providing information and training on, as well as funding for the treatment of vascular lesions such as hemangiomas, vascular birthmarks, arteriovenous malformations and other complex vascular anomalies. Dr. Waner is an internationally recognized pioneer in the development of successful treatments for vascular anomalies and is dedicated to the advancement of medical and surgical therapies for children and adults with such anomalies. The author or co-author of over 100 textbooks, book chapters, and papers in the field of otolaryngology, laser surgery and the treatment of hemangiomas and other vascular malformations, Dr. Waner also has been the recipient of millions of dollars in research grants and numerous awards, including the 2004 Children's Miracle Award from the Children's Miracle network, whose past recipients have included Larry King, Roy Disney, Christopher Reeve and Sugar Ray Leonard.

"We are so grateful to and are thrilled to honor Dr. Waner, who has changed the lives of thousands. By bringing awareness to this issue, we can help find cures and connect families with the support they need. This is not a cosmetic issue; our daughter's life was threatened by a hemangioma and we were fortunate to access the resources to get Dr. Waner's help before the condition was irreversible. Without him, Rachel certainly would have been blind, deaf in one ear, and she would have needed a tracheotomy and a feeding tube. She would have most likely endured congestive heart failure issues and suffered disfigurement to more than 70% of her face and head," said Sherri Foster. "We are fortunate that early intervention has made possible a normal, healthy childhood for Rachel. It is my firm belief that every child should have access to treatment regardless of his or her circumstances," continued Foster.

Dr. Waner treats thousands of pediatric patients from this region, across the country and around the world. With the continued increase in the number of uninsured and underinsured families seeking care for their children, he saw a dire need for financial assistance. Unfortunately, despite the disfiguring and often life-threatening nature of vascular anomalies, many insurance companies still classify their treatment as elective "cosmetic" surgery and deny benefits to families in need. The Foundation was established to assist these families financially and also to educate the public, the medical community and insurance companies. As a humanitarian, Dr. Waner donates a large percentage of his surgeries to those unable to meet the costs involved with treatment, and as a part of his vision for the Foundation, he is committed to the education and research required to reach more children in need and find a cure. Dr. Waner remarked, "I am pleased to participate in the critical fund-raising efforts of this new Foundation, which will not only help families in search of help but also will advance the science of finding a cure." For more information and to view a photographic story of Rachel's journey, please go to http://www.wanervascularanomaly.org.

More Information on Vascular Birthmarks: What Are They? How Are They Treated?
The most common forms of vascular birthmarks are port wine stains, venous malformations and hemangiomas.

Port wine stains, or venial malformations, are often linked to a deficiency or absence of proper nerve supply to blood vessels. If nerves are defective, vessels will continue to dilate and blood will pool or collect in the affected area. The result is a visual birthmark that can range in pigmentation from pale pink to deep purple.

Venous malformations are abnormalities of larger, deeper vascular structures. The closer the vessels are to the surface of the skin, the deeper the color of the malformation will be to the naked eye. A deep version, however, will have no color but will present as a protruding mass. The jaw, cheek, tongue and lips are the most common sites for venous malformations, although they also occur in other parts of the vascular system, including the brain.

Approximately 30% of hemangiomas are visible at birth. The remaining 70% become visible within one to four weeks after birth. Like people, they come in all shapes and sizes. Some are small and hardly noticeable, while others are large and disfiguring. Approximately 80% of all hemangiomas occur on the head and neck areas. In some cases, hemangiomas can be life threatening or severely problematic, interfering with breathing, eating, seeing, hearing and speaking. These types require immediate, aggressive intervention. In addition, internal hemangiomas, or visceral hemangiomas, can occur in the liver, intestines, airway and brain.

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