Those to be honored are, from left, Michelle Morgan, Dr. Mary Cochrane, Czarina Lopez, Cris Cisco and Lori Dallman.

Kris Hanning / Courtesy of Tu Nidito

As the temperatures heat up, one nonprofit is bringing bring the beach to the Old Pueblo to honor five remarkable moms, just in time for Mother’s Day.

“We really want to shine a light on the little points of light in our community, and one of the things I have learned by working on this event is how many of those we have here in Tucson,” said Donna Crawford, co-chair of The Remarkable Celebration on May 13 at the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa.

Honorees at the Margaritaville-themed benefit this year are:

  • Dr. Mary Cochran, a founding Tu Nidito committee member who overcame a serious illness as a teenager to dedicate herself to Tucson children as a pediatrician for more than 33 years;
  • Lori Dallman, who nursed a teenage son through a successful battle with Ewing’s sarcoma before battling a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer herself;
  • Czarina Lopez, who dealt with Fabry disease for 15 years before receiving a heart and kidney transplant in 2016, all while dedicating herself to family and philanthropic commitments;
  • Cris Cisco, a mother of four and champion of education who has inspired numerous students to reach their goals through her work as a teacher and International Baccalaureate coordinator;
  • Michelle Morgan, who founded Eat Dessert First Day on April 21 with her husband, Scott, in an effort to raise funds for pediatric cancer research in honor of their daughter, Dana, who lost her battle with leukemia in 2015.

The Remarkable Celebration marks the 16th year as the signature fundraiser for Tu Nidito, which has been supporting children and families coping with the diagnosis of a serious illness since its inception in 1994.

Six years later, Tu Nidito — which had become known for offering “a little nest” of comfort and safety — expanded services to include support for children and families grieving the death of a loved one; last year it provided emotional, social and educational support to more than 800 children and their families.

As it enters its third decade, the nonprofit has added an element of grief education and support for educators, social workers, day-care providers and other professionals to help bereaved children feel supported, said Lisa Robinson, director of development.

“We were seeing that many of the kids coming in for our support groups were not getting the same sort of support in school, so we have a staff member who goes into schools and talks with professionals about what grief looks like in different age groups,” Robinson said. “When kids are grieving, it has an impact on all aspects of their behavior, including in the classroom. They may act out because they don’t know how to express these very complicated emotions, so the presentation is designed to help counselors and teachers recognize common grief characteristics and support children through the grief process.”

Opportunities for providing support to children and families in the event of serious illness or the loss of a close friend or family member abound at Tu Nidito: Crawford said that one of her favorite programs is PB&J With Love, which provides healthy meals assembled by volunteers at Dream Dinners for single-parent families battling serious illness.

“They can pull the meals out of the freezer and cook them as they need them, which is so much easier if you are a single parent who is dealing with an illness. It is just a wonderful program,” Crawford said.

The Remarkable Celebration seeks to raise at least $300,000 to benefit Tu Nidito’s programming while also serving as a “huge thank you” to the many individual donors, businesses and partners who make programming possible, according to Crawford.

Crawford is looking forward to the casual event, which takes its “Margaritaville” motif from the popular Jimmy Buffet song.

“We find that many people here love the beach theme and it is a fun way to usher in the summer; plus, I think that Jimmy Buffet is universal,” she said.

Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at ninch2@comcast.net

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