All because of Brooke
Suzi Slay, Jennifer Swanson and Sissy Hester presented a check for $11,550 during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September
Brooke Hester’s legacy lives on through The Hustle for Childhood Cancer Cures
“We will do this until the end of time. It’s hard, but Brooke asked us to do it, so we’ll keep doing it. It’s all because of that little girl.” – Jennifer Swanson
When Jennifer Swanson began volunteering at Cook Children’s in 1998, she had no idea what the next 25 years would bring. As a junior volunteer, she visited and played with patients at our Hematology and Oncology Center. She witnessed firsthand how challenging a cancer diagnosis can be to patients and families alike.
In 2010, cancer became personal for Jennifer and the Hester family. Brooke, Jennifer’s cousin’s daughter, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Four-year-old Brooke received treatment out of state, but when her condition became terminal, she and her immediate family moved back to Texas permanently.
“Brooke was terminal, so they came home,” Jennifer said. “Cook Children’s wasn’t in charge of her treatment, but they took care of her at the end of her life and that means the world to us.”
For many families, the medical bills associated with cancer treatment can be difficult. Looking for a way to help, Jennifer and her parents started The Hustle for Childhood Cancer Cures, a 5K and 1-mile run, in 2011. But Brooke, who referred to her cancer as “lumpies,” had a different idea about where the money should go.
“Brooke said, ‘No, this goes to lumpies research,’” Jennifer said. “Brooke looked us in the eyes and asked us to do this. She passed in 2015, and that is the only reason we still do this: because a 4-year-old asked us to.”
Funds raised in Brooke’s honor have benefited many children on their medical journey, but Jennifer never expected her own daughter, Beverly Brooke, to be one of them. Then, in 2021, Beverly was admitted to our Fort Worth medical center with a rare condition that would require chemotherapy.
“I’ve been raising money for these chemotherapies for so long, and then my own daughter was a recipient,” Jennifer said. “One of the things we fight for is research so that chemotherapy is gentler.
My daughter received one of the most gentle chemotherapies in the world, because someone fought for it. It was full circle.”
In 2023, the Hester family celebrated The Hustle’s 13th year. They presented a record-breaking check of $11,550 to our Hematology and Oncology Center to support children like Brooke and Beverly.
“We will do this until the end of time,” Jennifer said. “It’s hard, but Brooke asked us to do it, so we’ll keep doing it. It’s all because of that little girl.”