Staff Report

Patch Adams, the notable physician, clown and social activist who became a household name after a 1998 film starring Robin Williams, will be the keynote speaker of this year’s “Little Heroes Breakfast” for the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation (TBCF).

The breakfast is one of the foundation’s signature events, named for the “little heroes” facing childhood cancer that the group supports.

This year the breakfast will be held at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 27.

TBCF is the only local nonprofit solely focused on providing financial, educational and emotional support to families living in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties who have a child with cancer.

 “Dr. Adams’ message of ‘laughter as medicine’ resonates deeply with us here. We try so hard to bring a little bit of light to our families whenever and in whatever way we can, not just during the holidays,” said Gisselle Madrigal, TBCF’s Family Resource Specialist. “We offer monthly support groups and during those groups we talk, we cry and, believe it or not, we laugh. It’s so important that we remember to focus on what’s possible and to keep hope alive.” 

The 2020 event co-chairs are Heather Ayer, Matt Fish and Brittany Dobson. 

Ayer, who is a childhood cancer survivor and whose family were recipients of TBCF services, said, “As a childhood cancer survivor I know first-hand how devastating a cancer diagnosis can be, and how important it is to keep a family together through this unimaginable experience. This event means so much to me because it is truly focused on bringing our community together to honor and applaud the little heroes among us.”

Anyone interested in attending the Little Heroes Breakfast or learning more about Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation can call Development & Communications Director Kirsten Stuart at 805-308-9943 or RSVP at under the Events tab.

Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation provides services to families who have a child diagnosed with cancer up to age 18 and continue until they reach 21 years old. In 2019 TBCF served 851 individuals through its multiple programs and provided direct financial assistance to 48 families, a 25 percent increase from 2018.

Seven families were given additional financial assistance when their child relapsed, and another seven families were supported financially through TBCF’s funeral fund.