Touch a Truck X – San Diego

This was our first year hosting Touch A Truck (TAT) in July – maybe our last year, too. We had excellent San Diego weather up until the day before when temperatures skyrocketed. The brave families who made it out of their air conditioned homes and onto the hot asphalt are commended for their efforts! We love you parents and your red-faced, sweaty-headed little kids who were happy to cool down with lemonade, shaved ice and ice cream cones between visits to the nearly 60 vehicles on display.

Aside from having lower attendance (thanks to the 90+ degree heat wave), TAT was a huge hit. Our exhibitors were in full force representing everything from a classic Chevy Bel Air to a huge Volvo rock truck. It’s impossible to list everything on display, but here are some highlights. The California Highway Patrol, SD Police SWAT, and SD Fire Department gave the kids a broad look at emergency response vehicles, while three off-road clubs showed off big wheels and roll bars. S&R Towing went all out this year bringing two giant 16-ton “wrecker” tow-trucks and strung a huge American flag 40 feet in the air between the two, and showed off a 1966 El Camino and F350. EDCO made their debut with a Trash Truck that took down the house for the longest line all day… seriously, kids love the trash truck. A favorite carried over from last year is the Cemex cement mixer truck where the kids are invited to write on the barrel with a marker; as it gets full, they spin the barrel to a clean spot. UPS brought four vehicles for the kids to explore and Wells Fargo let everyone sit in their iconic stage coach. We have photos of the day on our TAT website, if you’d like to see a little of everything.

I was fortunate to start working for a new company last year,, who became our title sponsor this year. They are really a great company to be a part of and I’m thankful for their support of TAT. In addition to making a huge donation, they had the company “storyteller” come to the event and put together a wonderful video from the day that not only captures kids enjoying the vehicles, but really looks at the why we do this event in the first place…

10 years ago my son Max lost his fight with cancer. He was 7 years old.

For 10 years we’ve hosted our annual Touch A Truck event to raise money to help fight kids cancer. Why would we lose our child and dive into fundraising? Simple. As parents who have lost a child to this dreaded disease, we’ve lived the worst possible pain a parent can experience. We would never wish that on anyone, so we choose to advocate for those families who are in the fight right now. We choose to help fund cancer research and clinical trials through Beat Nb.

I won’t lie to you: Touch A Truck this year was difficult for me. It was a milestone – 10 years since we said goodbye to our cute, little squeaky 7-year-old. He would be 17 this year, entering his Senior year in high school. We are fortunate to have his childhood friends volunteer at the event and we wonder… well, we wonder about a lot of things. And that can make a parent sad.

What I’m not sad about is being part of Beat Nb, supporting Dr. Giselle Sholler. There is no question about this. We – Beat Nb – are doing all the right things for kids fighting cancer.

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About the Author

Melissa Mikulak

Melissa serves as So Cal Director of Beat Nb. Previously co-founder and Executive Director of Max's Ring of Fire, multiple nonprofits with a shared mission merged in June of 2016.

Hoops for Lives


On June 24th in San Diego, the Hoops for Lives 3 on 3 basketball tournament was a great success - raising over $10,000!

It's one of our favorite types of events - organized out of the heart and passion of kids: specifically, students Zachary Robinson, Julia Maurer, Spencer Reckles, Reese Reckles and Ellery Robinson.

12 year old Zachary wanted to do something to help his friend Micah who is battling neuroblastoma. He came up with the idea to put on a charity basketball tournament, and his mom Shelley reached out to us to start the ball dribbling. Micah has taken part in one of the clinical trials we're helping make happen, so Zachary chose to benefit Beat Nb with the 3 on 3 tourney idea.


Micah Bernstein, beating neuroblastoma.

Kids helping fight kids' cancer: (L to R) Zachary Robinson, Reese Reckles, Julia Maurer, Ellery Robinson, Spencer Reckles

Kids helping fight kids' cancer: (L to R) Zachary Robinson, Reese Reckles, Julia Maurer, Ellery Robinson, Spencer Reckles Courtesy

Zachary invited his friends (including his sister Ellery) to join him in putting together the event. Their original goal was to raise $2,000 to fund bold research to help other kids beat cancer.

Ellery was good-naturedly nicknamed the Slime Queen, as she spent a bunch of her own saved money buying materials to make slime, which she sold at the event to add to the fundraising total.

When they hit their fundraising goal so fast, they upped it to $5,000 - and sent us the picture below of this awesome fundraising thermometer!


By the time the event had finished, Zachary and Ellery and friends had raised over $10,000 - and they're still going. They just got 4 Southwest tickets to anywhere in the US, which are being auctioned off to add to the Hoops for Lives total.

We're so proud to see young people taking the initiative to do good things. They saw something they wanted to make better, and decided to do something about it - and did exactly that. That's truly impactful.

Zachary, Julia, Spencer, Reese and Ellery...



Give Day Tampa Bay: the Insta-llation


What a blast! On Tuesday May 1st, Give Day Tampa Bay, we featured our pop-up art installation at Armature Works in Tampa.

Three separate kid-themed scenes made up the Instagrammable pop-up, with pro photographers at each scene. For any donation, we'd snap your photo and email it to you on the spot.

The kite scene was created by Tallahassee muralist Matt Shanaghan. He and his wife Morgan lost their son Miles to neuroblastoma in February of this year, and generously donated their art in his memory. A gold kite floated in front of the blue skies and park backdrop.

The trike scene was inspired by a video of Ezra Matthews, son of our Executive Director Kyle Matthews and his wife Robyn. Ezra was lost to nb in 2010. A gold tricycle (gold is the ribbon color for childhood cancer) was in front of a colorful city backdrop.

And most popular, was out adult-sized ball-pit, filled with  4,500 colorful balls. Created here in Tampa from plexiglass and aluminum, the 8 foot by 8 foot backdrop was hand painted by local artist Kathy Hurley. Hurley generously donated the art, and has been a supporter and close friend of Beat Nb since before our inception. 

Huge thanks are in order to Community Foundation of Tampa Bay for putting on the event, which is a 24 hour feature of over 500 nonprofits in the Tampa Bay area. As well as to Armature Works for donating the space for the Insta-llation, to the Brink Foundation for sponsoring the event, and to everyone who came out and participated. And a big thanks to FOX and Walter Allen for the coverage! 

Through prizes, donations, and a brilliant gift from our friends at Team Parker for Life, we raised over $35,000 this year on Give Day. This money will continue to help KIDS beat neuroblastoma and other childhood cancers today and every day. 


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Karaoke for the Kure: GALA 2017 raises 6 figures for KIDS fighting cancer

What a night! Our most successful Tampa event yet happened Friday, October 13th, at Port Tampa Bay in Cruise Terminal 2. (We also premiered the video above there, featuring Rea and Sofia + family).

Karaoke for the Kure: GALA 2017 was presented by CrossCountry Mortgage this year, along with support from many incredible groups and individuals from around Tampa.

Karaoke for the Kure: GALA 2017

Around 300 Tampa and Florida Beat Nb supporters showed up to help KIDS beat cancer, through Beat Nb's funding of brave, hope-bringing clinical trials. Seattle-based band ROCKARAOKE handled the tunes, with a library of 700+ songs and energy to match. 

We were honored to have Kyla and Ryan Callahan there as well as a couple other Tampa Bay Lightning players - thanks Erik Condra and Dan Girardi! The Callahans are great supporters of Beat Nb, and we love their heart for kids with cancer. The Ryan Callahan Foundation was also a sponsor this year (again! thank you).

Karaoke for the Kure: GALA 2017

Over $135,000 was raised through this year's Karaoke for the Kure.

THANK YOU to our amazing sponsors and the attendees who made that happen:

  • CrossCounty Mortgage
  • Deliver Media
  • Landon Outreach Foundation
  • Csenge Advisory Group
  • Smile Design Dentistry
  • Curtis Parry and Team at Northwestern Mutual
  • American Marketing & Mailing Services, Inc 
  • Kiwanis Tampa Bay
  • Florida Blue
  • Hivelocity
  • Ryan Callahan Foundation
  • Endodontics Specialists
  • Granting Grace Foundation
  • FIVE Labs
  • Tampa Bay Rays
  • TECO
  • Weatherford Partners
  • Convergent Capital
Karaoke for the Kure: GALA 2017 Karaoke for the Kure: GALA 2017

To see all the photos from the night, check out these photo albums:

Fishing for the Fight 2017

One of the tournament winners pictured with Bella, who has been battling neuroblastoma for 8 years.

On Saturday, May 6th, we were thrilled to be the beneficiary of an event thrown by students from the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg Campus. The inaugural Fishing for the Fight was organized by Savannah Billett, Hunter Schoch, and Garret Greca as part of a project for one of their classes, and they blew it out of the water!

These students are 19 years old (!) and live in the “Leadership Living Learning Community on campus. As part of their leadership course, students identify a challenge within the community and work with those involved to implement a solution. They decided to do a fishing tournament because Hunter and Garret eat, sleep, and breathe fishing, and Savannah wanted to do something that would benefit childhood cancer research. They even went out and got press!

We’ve known Savvy (now she’s in college and goes by Savannah) since she was in 7th grade. She learned of my son Ezra’s cancer treatment from one of my neighbors who went to school with her (Molly), and followed us online. She’s been fundraising for childhood cancer research ever since. Savvy started out with her friend Molly making and selling bracelets at her school, and holding restaurant fundraising events (that may have been our very first fundraiser!) with her family to benefit our research.

Savannah Billet with Beat Nb Executive Director Kyle Matthews and wife Robyn Matthews

For this year’s Fishing for the Fight, lines were in the water at 7am, and captains with their boats were out in the water fishing for the largest variety of three different types of fish. Back at shore, they were greeted with a party at the Hula Bay Club. Food, drinks and prizes for their catches (some awesome Yeti Coolers) made for a great day. The weather was perfect!

Along with the prizes for the catches were silent auction items (including hotel stays at the Swan and Dolphin at Walt Disney World and Tradewinds in St. Petersburg, a Guy Harvey crafted table, sunglasses and more), a 50/50 raffle and a raffle for other great fishing related prizes. 

I sat in with the students a few days before the event as they presented their project to the Mayor of St Petersburg, Rick Kriseman. I was proud of Savannah and her years of advocacy as I listed to them share all the effort they put in. Events are a TON of work! These students canvassed the town asking for raffle donations, reached out to everyone they knew to attend the event, and spent weeks planning an event that wound up raising over $5,000.

We couldn’t be more thankful for Savannah, Garret, and Hunter’s efforts and their fundraising, all of which benefits Beat Nb‘s mission of beating neuroblastoma and other childhood cancers through patient-affecting clinical trials and research.

Kyle Matthews
Executive Director, Beat Nb

Fishermen line up while winners are announced.

Presenting one of the winners with her Yeti cooler.

Sofia (pictured with Savannah Billet) is on our DFMO trial, cancer free and beating neuroblastoma.

Give Day by the Numbers

I’ve been having fun poring over our Give Day Tampa Bay results (thank you all for your support!!!), and thought I’d share some of the numbers. (Read our recap of how the day went, here). Give Day Tampa Bay (this was the 4th annual) is a 24 hour period of giving which all nonprofits with Tampa operations are invited to participate in. Tampa Bay residents (and beyond!) are encouraged to learn about nonprofits doing great work in Tampa, and make a donation if able.

The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay organizes the event, and this year had great prizes sponsored by themselves and local businesses (a few of which we won!). To encourage more people to get involved, the minimum donation was $5, and prizes were awarded based on number of unique donors.

Note: while Give Day leaderboards were only for the 24 hours of May 2nd, folks continued to give, and these numbers reflect donations through May 4th 6pm EST.

↑ Here’s how our unique donations stacked up over the day. (Note: this isn’t unique donors, as that’s harder to gather, but it’s pretty close – very few people gave more than once throughout the day).

↑ Here’s the chart showing dollars raised each hour.

↑ This graph shows the cumulative fundraising total throughout the day. The red line includes the prizes we won, while the blue line is donations only. Note: this is the amount before fees. The Razoo platform Give Day Tampa Bay uses charges a few percents in fees, so actual numbers are a bit lower.

↑ Here’s some fun. Number of donations based on the state they came from. Florida for the win, yes, but look at all those states representing! Feel free to click/tap/hover around to see how each state did. We had donations from 43 states!

↑ This shows how donors accessed the page – over 2/3 mobile.

↑ Some of the popular words used in the messages left with the donations (shoutout to Nicole Curtis for pushing via Twitter!).

donations through our give day page
Of donors preferred to be anonymous
Of donors chose to cover platform costs
(which was a total of
extra going to Beat Nb - THANK YOU!)

in donations
in prizes
brought a (still growing!) total of
raised for beat nb's kids cancer research through give day tampa bay 2017!

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about yesterday…

Before anything else, I’ll say this: Beat Nb has the most incredible community of supporters. On behalf of all the kids with neuroblastoma and other cancers who benefit from what we do, thank you for making yesterday so fun and such a thrilling success.

Yesterday was the 4th annual Give Day Tampa Bay, a 24 hour period of giving for all nonprofits with Tampa operations. We won big, because of your help. Check out our Twitter Moment for some of the highlights.

We started the day off right – in I-275 traffic in a Uhaul box truck, headed downtown. We’d had a fun idea, which Lightning star Ryan Callahan and his wife Kyla made possible through the Ryan Callahan Foundation. We did a photoshoot with Ryan and Anthony (one of the local Tampa kids fighting neuroblastoma cancer, the type we focus on beating), and printed it on 6ft x 8ft metal sheets. We then covered it in 500 magnets. Anyone who made a donation of $25 or more through our Give Day page got to take a magnet down. When they were all gone, the image above was visible.

Huge thanks to Ryan and Kyla – that idea won us a $5,000 “Out of the Box” award around lunchtime for most creative Give Day fundraiser.

And then we set our sights on a new goal for the day. USAmeriBank sponsored a $7,500 prize for the large nonprofit with the most individual donors for the day, and AARP sponsored a $2,500 prize for the nonprofit in the Health and Human Services category with the most individual donors. We could win both – but we needed to get MANY donors to give (even if i was just $5, the minimum). We’d been on Facebook Live from the park all day, and had a good amount of supporters helping, but we were still wayyyy behind the lead – nearly 400 donors behind.

It was time to get straight telethon! We have some great friends, who also started activating their networks. Our neuroblastoma families are a tight community, and were sharing all day and encouraging friends and supporters to donate. We owe many thanks to them. It is powerful seeing all of us families coming together to beat neuroblastoma.

Big thanks to my Connect Florida class, who showed up big on social and with donations. And thank you to a very special guest who stopped by Lykes Park and supported – Florida’s very own Lt Governor, Carlos Lopez-Cantera!

Some of our celebrity friends helped as well. Ray Toro, lead guitarist of My Chemical Romance, activated his Twitter followers. Our friend Jayde Donovan, morning radio DJ in NYC (formerly of Tampa’s 101.5) gave us shoutouts all day. Actress Melissa Archer (One Life to Live, among others) did too. And we had huge support from Nicole Curtis, star of HGTV’s popular show Rehab Addict.

Nicole has fallen in love with a little girl battling neuroblastoma in Detroit, Tessa. Tessa’s dad works with Nicole, who’s become a strong advocate for our kids with cancer. She sent emails, tweets, messages… this woman was on it. THANK YOU, Nicole. This is heart for her, and we are proud of her passion. She is the real deal.

In the evening, around 645pm we went on TV with WEDU (Give Day’s media partner) with Rea, who is on one of our clinical trials. Her sisters were there too, plus mom Rochelle and dad Derek.

From the 8-9pm hour, we won the TECO power hour for most donations during that time. Thanks TECO, and all of you who donated!

My friendly apology to anyone whose cell phone number I have (ha!) – I texted and Facebook messaged so many people yesterday that for an hour or more I was “rate limited” on both platforms, and had to switch devices. I assure you – my messages were individually sent to each of you – and it worked! So thanks for putting up with me. 🙂

This Beat Nb community texted our friends, messaged and emailed everyone we knew, and by the 11pm hour we had taken the lead, only to have it pulled away from us 10 minutes later. With less than half an hour left, we held the lead. We were getting donations coming in every couple seconds – THANK YOU! When midnight hit, we were still in the lead, and could hardly believe it.

Thank you to each and every person who made yesterday happen. Support is still rolling in, and our total is over $37,765 at the moment. From a day in the park and an incredible network of supporters.

My wife Robyn did a Facebook Live at the end, where we had an army of dozens working their phones as well. I’m a musician, and many people kept saying “if we win, you have to sing a song!” In 2010, when we lost Ezra to neuroblastoma, we also lost one of our twins who were born that year. At each of their funerals, I sang the same song – The Valley Song, by Jars of Clay. I sang that last night on Facebook Live. The reason we are doing all of this – beating neuroblastoma, and other kids’ cancer – is so no more songs need to be sung at kids’ funerals. So moms and dads don’t need to know what it feels like to lose a child. And so kids never have to learn to walk in a hospital, hooked up to a chemo pole.

Thank you for being a part of that.

Kyle Matthews
Executive Director, Beat Nb


East Lake High School NHS Gives Back to Beat Nb

Last Saturday, students from the East Lake High School National Honor Society hosted a carwash benefiting Beat Nb, and we are very thankful for their efforts and for giving up their Saturday morning to come out and help.

We loved working with the East Lake High School students, and if you know any students who would want to get involved, please send them our way!

Gasparilla 2017

What a great Saturday! We had 40 runners on the Beat Nb run team at the Gasparilla Distance Classic in Tampa this weekend. It was moving to see the heart put forth by our runners, as we added a pinch of green to the tens of thousands of runners who took to Bayshore Blvd over the weekend.

My first Gasparilla run was 7 years ago. Ezra had just had a consultation for his April 1 surgery (his surgeon, Dr Mark Kayton, was the first person who ever donated to the nonprofit we would found just after Ezra died). I was hopeful and tired, and running pounded some of the stress into the pavement instead of my mind.

This weekend, we had a compassionate team running for Beat Nb. People who I’d never met before. People whose sons and daughters have fought cancer also. A guy named Anthony whose friends lost their son (named Kyle) to neuroblastoma. Our friends the Andersons, whose daughter Sofia walked too, and is cancer free on one of our trials. There’s a quote which goes something like “if you want to know if there’s still good in the world, follow a childhood cancer family around a while.” When I first heard it my reaction was “hey that’s weird” but I quickly realized it’s true. People pour themselves out around kids’ cancer, to make it better. And it’s not hyperbole. It’s not fluff. Our 40 runners raised over $25,000, telling the Beat Nb story and their own, making a tangible difference in the lives of kids fighting cancer RIGHT NOW.

Every person deserves a thank you for their participation (and have gotten them!). Deliver Media stepped it up hugely this year, bringing nearly half our runners. They even had one of their kids, Madison, running. She’s 12. Deliver matched every dollar their runners raised. Bavaro’s Pizza had runners out as well, with son Antonio (13 years old) rocking one of the best times of the 5k in our group. And our friends at Anise had runners on the team, too. THANK YOU to our corporate teams.

We’re glad to see each of you challenge yourselves and push forward not only yourself, but for kids with cancer. What you did this weekend makes a big impact, and I’m thankful.

Professional Philanthropy Network Benefits Beat Nb!

Last Wednesday, we were given a fun-filled happy hour at the Hyde Out, courtesy of the Professional Philanthropy Network (PPN). This group benefits charities once a month and brings together the charity and the professional community in Tampa Bay, and we are grateful that they chose us for the month of February. This money will directly help us give brave hope to kids with cancer, through effective and innovative clinical trials. We always appreciate the love and support that the Tampa community gives us.

We also auctioned off a signed Ryan Callahan (Tampa Bay Lightning) jersey – pretty cool!

An album of photos from the evening can be found here.

If you attended and took any photos, we’d love to see them! Email us at, or tag @beatnb on Twitter or Facebook when you share. Thanks!