Desi Strong Foundation receives surprise $10,000 grant

Representatives from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation surprised a local nonprofit organization with a $10,000 check – while on CBS Local 2’s Live Facebook Feed. The grant – presented to the Desi Strong Foundation – is an offshoot of a partnership between the Berger Foundation and CBS Local 2, where each month, a local nonprofit receives a $25,000 grant. But this grant was unknown and unannounced.

“We had absolutely no idea,” said Terry Cechin, Desi’s father and President of the Desi Strong Foundation. “I am still in shock and so grateful that the Berger Foundation selected us for this special surprise grant.”

Last December, the Desi Strong Foundation was among 59 local nonprofits that received a regretful letter that they were not selected to receive one of the monthly Coachella Valley Spotlight grants.

“Every year, the CBS Local 2 Advisory Board has a difficult decision to choose only 12 nonprofits to receive the Coachella Valley Spotlight,” said Christopher McGuire, Vice President of Programs for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. “The surprise grant idea came to be because we wanted to give to more deserving organizations, like the Desi Strong Foundation.”

The Desi Strong Foundation was formed after the passing of courageous Desi Cechin, who in 2014 was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma. Desi fought two strong years, and then to honor her memory and give other children with cancer a fighting chance, her family and community members started the Desi Strong Foundation to raise awareness and funding for children battling cancer. The Desi Strong Foundation raises money for childhood cancer research, which only receives 4 percent annually from the National Cancer Institute – to study these diseases that threaten the lives of more than 175,000 children each year. Even when families are fortunate to have insurance to cover the majority of treatment, extraneous expenses including travel costs to special hospitals may become a true burden on families already feeling helpless with their sick child.

Since the organization’s inception, more than 22 children with cancer have benefited from support through the Desi Strong Foundation including financial gifts, like the grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation, which was presented to help with families’ ancillary costs.

“Nurturing a sick family member is an important part of the healing process,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director of the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. “If we can reduce the stress of a cost burden, we know that more love and hope can be infused into these families that need it so much.”

“This was such an exciting gift and presentation to be a part of. There are not many things that can top surprising someone with thousands of dollars! We are proud to partner with the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation in this program, now in its ninth year,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2.

To learn more about the Desi Strong Foundation visit www.desistrong.org or call 760-679-DESI. For more information about the Coachella Valley Spotlight grant or to apply to receive one in 2018, go to cbslocal2.com, and click on the Coachella Valley Spotlight logo near the bottom of the home page.