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Our History

  • 1980s
  • 1990s
  • 2000s
  • 2010s
  • 2020s

1980s – Incorporated a non-profit organization intending to support novel groundbreaking pediatric cancer research.

1983 – The first major project funded focused on Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), the most common disease killer of children under 18. Paved the way for Children’s Medical Center Dallas to have worldwide prominence.

1985 – Launched the annual Tom Thumb Run for the Children at Oktoberfest in Addison. 34 years later it is still running!!

1987 – Launched the Ambassador Program, which provides fun events for children with cancer, their siblings, and parents.

1988 – Funded a research project at Children’s Medical Center Dallas (Children’s Dallas) on the long-term follow-up of the child cured of cancer that helped inspire and launch the “After Cancer Experience” program at Children’s Dallas, one of the first programs ever offered globally on the continuum of follow-up care to monitor the late effects of cancer and its treatment on the child cured of cancer.

1998 – The organization was renamed to Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer (WOKC).

2000s – Funded research in bone tumors, leukemia, and neuroblastoma.

2003 – Funded the Visiting Professor Endowment Fund at Children’s for hematology/oncology and hosted the first WOKC Golf Classic.

2004 – Texas Ranger Michael Young and wife Cristina supported WOKC programs for children with cancer. WOKC committed to 5-year funding of Spanish translator for Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

2007 – Constructed the D Tower playroom on the oncology floor for the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders for Children’s Health.

2008 – Launched the Buddy Bag Program, a rolling suitcase filled with comfort and hygiene items delivered to children on their first day of admission to the hospital for cancer diagnosis. The Buddy Bag Program is a WOKC signature program.

2010 – Jersey Mike’s Day of Giving – adopted it as its corporate philanthropy nationally.

2010 – Funded 5-hospital collaboration study “Metabolic Syndrome in Childhood Brain Tumor Survivors Relapse Study on Medulloblastoma” between Cook Children’s (Fort Worth), Children’s Medical Central (Dallas), MD Anderson (Houston), TX Children’s (Houston), Children’s Hospital (Ok City) resulted in Cook Children’s CPRIT Grant of $1.9 million and participation in the joint trial with St. Jude’s (Memphis).

2014 – Expanded the Ambassador program to Cook Children’s; expanded the Buddy Bag Program to Medical City.

2015 – Provided seed funding of $135,000 to Dr. Michael Hogarty at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), for the study “Mechanisms of Polyaminins Depletion Anti-Tumor Activity in Neuroblastoma” producing additional NIH funding of $1.5 million (2018).

2016 – Expanded the Ambassador Program to Medical City Children’s Dallas.

2018 – Luke Laufenberg became the Run Marshall for the 33rd Run for the Children at Oktoberfest; Luke valiantly fought Burkitt’s Leukemia until earning his Angel Wings in August 2019.

2019 – Contributed to the largest pediatric Acute Myeloid Leukemia (TpAML) genetic study (Whole Genome Sequencing) in the U.S. by supporting a computational biologist to analyze biobank genetic information. Ambassador Program renamed the Warrior Family Program for active members, reserving Ambassador status for those that have graduated from the program. WOKC expanded corporate supporters to include the Texas Roughriders, Cleburne Railroaders, and Dallas Rattlers along with Texas Legends.

2020 – 40th Anniversary (1980 – 2020) of Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer (deferred to 2021 due to COVID)

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Meet the Founder

Cindy Brinker Simmons

Cindy Brinker Simmons graduated from the University of Virginia in 1979 with a bachelor of arts in communications and Spanish. Upon returning to Dallas after her graduation, Ms. Brinker Simmons began her distinguished career in public relations. She founded Brinker Communications and, in 2004, merged her company with Levenson Public Relations to form Levenson & Brinker Public Relations, a full-service strategic communications company. She served as president of the newly merged agency that specialized in image development, branding and events management in the retail, hospitality, medical, and non-profit sectors. In 2012, Ms. Brinker Simmons retired to pursue writing and is currently working on her second book. She also has served on numerous boards subsequent to her retirement.

Coinciding with commencing her professional career, in 1980 Ms. Brinker Simmons established Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer (WOKC), one of Dallas’ largest pediatric cancer non-profit organizations. WOKC funds meritorious childhood oncology research projects nationwide and has multiple programs designed to help and encourage young cancer patients and their families. Ms. Brinker Simmons established WOKC in memory of her mother, the late great tennis champion Maureen “Little Mo” Connolly Brinker, who died of cancer in 1969 at the age of 34.

Ms. Brinker Simmons is president of the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation (MCB), one of the most respected junior tennis organizations worldwide. MCB furthers tennis development for elite and talented players, ages 8-12, through its national and international tournaments. MCB has also created innovative initiatives for its young competitors that promote good sportsmanship, fair play and strong moral character.

In 2008, Ms. Brinker Simmons was appointed by Texas Speaker Tom Craddick to the Oversight Committee of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), a state agency designed to fund groundbreaking cancer grants and to bring top cancer specialists to the state. In 2007, Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment establishing CPRIT, which authorized the state to issue $3 billion in general obligation bonds over 10 years to fund innovative cancer research as well as prevention programs and services throughout the state. Ms. Brinker Simmons completed her three-year term on CPRIT’s Oversight Committee, serving as its secretary, to establish and manage the operations, policies and staff of the Institute.

Ms. Brinker Simmons has devoted herself to philanthropic concerns. She currently serves on the boards of Dallas Theological Seminary and East-West Ministries International. She also serves on the board of the Virginia Athletics Foundation at the University of Virginia. Her past board participation has been on the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the Greater Dallas Metroplex Salvation Army, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (Dallas Chapter), Children’s Health (formerly Children’s Medical Center Dallas), North Texas Food Bank, The Covenant School, and Dallas Christian Leadership.

Throughout the years, Ms. Brinker Simmons has received many distinguished awards including, but not limited to, State of Texas “Governor’s Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award,” “Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year,” given by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), “Dallas Mother of the Year,” the “Roaring Lambs“ ministry award as a woman of great faith, the “Children’s Hope Award” from Orphan Outreach, and the Dallas Tennis Association Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ms. Brinker Simmons is the author of the popular book, LITTLE MO’s LEGACY: A Mother’s Lessons, A Daughter’s Story. The book chronicles the lessons her late mother taught her in life and in death.

Ms. Brinker Simmons has one son, William. Her husband, Robert L. Simmons, Jr., passed away in 2005 after a valiant three-year battle with cancer.

The WOKC Team

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John Dankovchik

Interim Executive Director
To John, there is no cause more worthy of his time than helping kids and their families cope, survive, and thrive after hearing the crushing words, “Your child has cancer”. He proudly serves as the Chairman of the Board and enjoys focusing on the big picture, strategy, and propelling WOKC to new heights. John began his support of WOKC back in 2012. He joined the Board in 2018 and became Board Chair in January 2021. John has recently taken an interim role as WOKC’s Executive Director.

John is a serial entrepreneur. Currently, he is the Co-founder and CEO of AlgoLook, an AI platform company enhancing safety, security, health, and wellbeing in schools and buildings. John is a lifelong learner and one of the most curious people you will meet. He spent his childhood and adult career at the intersection of art, science, and technology. If it involves innovation, applied science breakthroughs, or simply flipping the status quo on its head, you will find John doing what he loves.

John is passionate about helping people, especially kids. He believes positive energy, curiosity, hope, and optimism to be the most powerful states of mind to achieve one’s goals.

John has served on 3 non-profit boards including WOKC’s. He is passionate about children's causes, both physical and mental wellbeing. John is married and is a long-time Plano resident with his wife Nicole and their 8-year-old daughter Tatiana and he has 2 grown children, Maddy and Max. When he is not creating intangibles, John enjoys building, remodeling, woodworking, and anything where he can create and work with his hands. He also occasionally still chases the golf ball around the course since age 5.

Ann Whaley

Director of Development
Ann comes to WOKC with twenty years of non-profit development experience, her second career after her career BC (Before Children) in radio and television broadcasting. Since the age of ten, she has lived in Dallas and has been an active volunteer in her church, children's schools, Junior League, NCL, and several political campaigns.

Ann is an avid sports fan and is passionate about serving her community. She enjoys travel, cooking, swimming, and anything outdoors. Her greatest joy is her extended family and her three grown children Phillip, and his wife Erin, Sara, Peter, and brand- new granddaughter, Rosie.

Emily Lander

Marketing and Operations Coordinator
Emily was born and raised in Houston, TX. She graduated from Southern Methodist University in May of 2021 with a Bachelor of Business Degree in Marketing. She enjoys traveling, basketball, cooking, trying new restaurants, and spending time with her family.

Emily previously interned for various businesses and nonprofits during her time at SMU. She is a very active alumnus of SMU and loves to attend sports games. She is thrilled to join Wipe Out Kids' Cancer in the Marketing and Operations Coordinator role.

How You Can Help