Phelps Family Hosts Wonderful Tribute Evening

Chandler and Cade Phelps
A family photo of Chandler, Dane, and Cade

Suzanne and Eric Phelps of San Jose, California have long been staunch advocates for FIRST. Many of our members know the story of their precious son Dane, who passed away in 2008 when he was just 3 ½  years old. Dane was affected with an unknown type of ichthyosis and additional medical issues. Dane was a very special little boy and touched so many people in his short time. Over the years, Dane's older siblings, Chandler and Cade, have organized lemonade stands and garage sales to benefit FIRST. The entire family also continue to attend FIRST’s national family conferences to connect with others and offer their love and support.

Suzanne is a descendant of D.W. Norris, who founded Lennox International. This company led to the development of the Lennox Foundation by many of the descendants. This foundation has been very generous with grants to FIRST over the years. These grants have funded many of FIRST's initiatives including FIRST's new website design, purchase of new donor-management software, and funding of FIRST's Regional Meetings.

Eric and Suzanne wanted to do more to further ichthyosis research and create awareness. They held the first annual Dane's Friends for FIRST concert on September 1 at the Campbell Heritage Theater in Campbell, California. Food was provided by California business, MOJO burger, and a local Jamba Juice. Many family members and friends provided entertainment for the evening. There were performances by Dane's brother, Cade, former X-Factor contestants and now professional musicians Ryan Sims and Ethan Newman, singer-songwriter and teacher James Nobriga and his wife Katie Joy, and the phenomenal vocalist, songwriter and musician Joyce Randolph. Howard Dietz, a high school senior and award-winning saxophonist, joined other musicians for a 5-song set, and Kat Lernihan, a high school freshman and guitarist/vocalist took the stage as well for a three-song set. The evening also featured many performances by the Capitol Dance Company competition team dancers. Leading off the night was Dane's sister, Chandler Phelps, with a lyrical dance solo, "You'll Be in my Heart" dedicated to her brother, Dane, and all her friends at FIRST.
During FIRST’s family conference in Denver, Eric, Cade, and Chandler interviewed young people affected with ichthyosis. This video was then played at the event, providing participants with a true picture of how ichthyosis impacts those affected.
The evening also featured a silent auction and raffle. Items offered included a complimentary wine hour, with wine donated from many local wineries, including Savannah Chanelle, Joseph George Winery, and Fernwood Cellars.
There were some great trips, sports memorabilia, and music classes included in the silent auction. Some of the highlights include: 7 night Puerto Vallarta Trip (all amenities included), Lake Tahoe 4-7 night stay, and a San Francisco 2-Night Get Away.
Long-time FIRST member and “West Coast Ambassador” Les Avakian made the drive up from his home in Fresno to join the Phelps family. As those of you who are active in the online community know, Les is affected with X-linked ichthyosis and is a wonderful advocate for FIRST and ichthyosis. 

The evening was a tremendous success, raising more than $20,000 for FIRST! Eric and Suzanne received such a fantastic response from their community and the evening was such a success that next year's event is already planned for September 2013!

FIRST brochures and information was available at the event.  Cade plays the guitar.  Suzanne on stage with the performers.  Les Avakian and Suzanne Phelps


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