Organizers with the 12th annual Christopher Foundation Gospel Celebration are gearing up for the event.

Organizers with the 12th annual Christopher Foundation Gospel Celebration are gearing up for the event.

The gospel sing will start at 5 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 2, at Neosho's First Baptist Church, 12325 Highway 86, with a silent auction, chili supper, and music groups. There is no cost for the event, but donations will be accepted.

"This is our annual fundraiser," said Cathy Cooley, mother of Christopher Cooley, whom the foundation is named after. "We rely on this event to support all the things we do throughout the year."

The foundation was named after Christopher Cooley who was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma at 3 1/2 years of age. Following his diagnosis, he went through several major surgeries, many, many rounds of chemotherapy, along with radiation and a stem cell transplant on March 1, 1995. He stayed in remission for 19 months before he relapsed in October 1997. He went through a variety of chemotherapy treatments, painful antibody treatments, tumor vaccine treatment, surgeries and radiation. Christopher died on Feb. 4, 2001, at the age of 9.

The first event for Christopher was held a week before he passed away. Christopher was in the hospital and the event was taped for him to hear.

The Christopher Foundation raises public Awareness of pediatric cancer, Support patient and families, and gain Knowledge through research funding (ASK).

"We will have chili, hot dogs, and you can even make Frito chili pie, plus all kinds of homemade desserts to choose from," Cathy Cooley said. "There will be live music featuring Corky Long, Shepherd's Own, Old Friends Quartet, and a group from First Baptist Neosho. We will have a silent auction going on as well as a few items live auctioned throughout the evening."

Some of the auction items include: tickets to Silver Dollar City, Six Flags, Showboat Branson Belle, Dutton Family Theatre, Pierce Arrow Theatre, Northwest Arkansas Naturals, and many more of those.

"We have an electric grill from New-Mac, a beautiful handmade quilt from Brenda Pollick, windshield wiper blades from Wiseman's, two $10 gift certificates from Joyful Journey's, a candy bouquet from Tammy Decker, the Neosho Wildcat wrestling team is giving wrestling lessons, and all kinds of great stuff," Cooley added. "There is always still time to donate for the auction. We have people that will bring items that night as they come to the event. If someone is interested in donating they can contact me anytime at 389-4415. We appreciate all the donations that everyone gives us."

The event draws a great crowd from year to year. And the money raised from the event goes to worthy causes.
"There are a variety of things we use the money for," she said. "Each year, we take Easter baskets to Children's Mercy Hospital (in Kansas City), we also provide a Thanksgiving dinner for all the patients and families that are in the hospital over the holiday. We sponsor a Make-A-Wish for a local child with cancer each year; give money to help support Camp Quality, a local camp for kids with cancer, as well as cook a meal for the campers and workers; we have a scholarship at Crowder College for someone who has had pediatric cancer in their immediate family and this year we were able to establish a scholarship at Missouri Southern for the same thing. We participate in the Relay For Life to help bring awareness to pediatric cancer. Also this year, the Neosho School District helped us bring awareness during September pediatric cancer awareness month by dedicating a football game to it."

Cooley and the foundation are grateful for those who come out and support the event.

"I am always surprised and thrilled with the overwhelming response that we get from the public and all the businesses that support us," she said. "Neosho, Seneca and all the communities in Southwest Missouri are amazing with the way they support us and the kids. Without all of them we wouldn't be able to help any of these kids."