In the News

The CARTI Mission | Virtual Festival of Trees

As seen in Inviting Arkansas’ October issue.

It’s time to join the fight and fund the relentless pursuit of a cancer-free future.

Photo by Dero Sanford.

Shelia Vaught has always had a heart for service. Throughout her childhood, she remembers spending time at All Souls Church in Scott and at related community events. Later, she attended the University of Central Arkansas – a place that remains a priority as a proud alumna and former member of the board of trustees. As owner and director of Little Rock School of Dance, Shelia developed the potential and character of students for more than three decades. She is renowned for her gracious spirit and steadfast leadership; she is admired for a fierce, yet graceful, tenacity towards every project she tackles. Whether it’s spending time with families at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas or volunteering with one of the many other organizations that she holds close to her heart – her kindness and thoughtful nature are undeniable. Next month, Shelia will join fellow Chairman Jennifer Ralston-Day in welcoming patrons to the 44th Festival of Trees virtual event.

Photo by Dero Sanford.

Since the inaugural Festival of Trees in 1976, Shelia remains dedicated to the organization’s mission. Her experience includes chairman of Festival of Trees, the first female president of the CARTI Foundation and membership to the CARTI Board of Trustees since 1995. “I’ve enjoyed watching CARTI grow and expand to 16 treatment locations in our state.  I am so impressed with the enhanced network of compassionate, comprehensive care they provide. The staff loves and respects the patients and volunteers.”

Jennifer adds, “Festival of Trees has always had great appeal. It brings together CARTI supporters and introduces more Arkansans to the services that CARTI provides and the lives CARTI saves. Twenty-two years ago, Sheila asked me if I would like to help with CARTI Festival of Trees, and all these years later it’s a great honor to serve by her side.”

CARTI treats 23,000 unique patients annually throughout Arkansas and offers comprehensive cancer treatments that include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, diagnostic radiology and surgical oncology. Education and research have evolved, but CARTI’s mission remains constant. Patients benefit from the newest technology and truly compassionate service – care that extends beyond the physical with special consideration to the emotional support of the patient and the family. When faced with a cancer diagnosis, CARTI joins in the journey and provides assured confidence that the patient will receive the best treatment available.

Photo by Dero Sanford.

Festival of Trees celebrates the resilient spirit of cancer survivors and the life-saving services that CARTI provides. From the Sugar Plum Ball to Tux ‘N Trees, the festivities have become a tradition for countless Arkansas families. Proceeds support the CARTI Patient Assistance Program.

This year, the vision of Festival of Trees, and sugarplums dancing, remains steadfast. CARTI President & CEO Adam Head notes, “The health and safety of our patients, caregivers, volunteers and supporters are our priorities. In consideration of this, CARTI’s 2020 Festival of Trees will be available to everyone in a virtual setting. We look forward to hosting this year’s event online and continue the tradition of sharing the experiences of our patients and how lives are impacted through generous donations.”

Shelia adds, “We have the best volunteers and this year just shows that we can adjust to whatever comes our way. This Festival of Trees will be different, but so many things will make it just as special. We will have beautiful trees and auction items that everyone will want to buy. More fun details are in the works.”

While reimagining this holiday tradition, Shelia recalls the ardent advice she has received from mentors, “never give up,” and she makes every day count. This hopeful wisdom is certainly reflected in the CARTI mission; where now more than ever – it’s time to join the fight and fund the relentless pursuit of a cancer-free future.