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Andrews spreads Holiday cheer with 'Parents and Children Fighting Cancer' party

Kialani, 8, daughter of Karl Briales from Lorton, Va., places an ornament on a Christmas tree during the Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday event in Hangar 3 on Dec. 3. This is the third year the family has attended the holiday event. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bahja J. Jones)

Kialani, 8, daughter of Karl Briales from Lorton, Va., places an ornament on a Christmas tree during the Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday event in Hangar 3 on Dec. 3. This is the third year the family has attended the holiday event. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bahja J. Jones)

Katie Green, 11th Force Support Squadron education technician, hosts a tea party as she portrays Cinderella during the Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday event in Hangar 3 on Dec. 3. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bahja J. Jones)

Katie Green, 11th Force Support Squadron education technician, hosts a tea party as she portrays Cinderella during the Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday event in Hangar 3 on Dec. 3. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bahja J. Jones)

Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clause arrive in style to the Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday event in a C-37A aircraft. The Claus’ were a special guest at the holiday event Dec. 3 where they distributed gifts to families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bahja J. Jones)

Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clause arrive in style to the Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday event in a C-37A aircraft. The Claus’ were a special guest at the holiday event Dec. 3 where they distributed gifts to families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bahja J. Jones)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Hangar 3 was transformed into a winter wonderland Dec. 3, with festive holiday décor for the annual Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday party.

The yearly event started 24 years ago, inspired by a Team Andrews family with a child battling cancer.

"The Family Support Center director, Jeanette Ruffing, thought it would be nice to throw a party for the family," said Janet Grampp, Andrews Fisher House manager. "Word spread quickly at the Pediatric Oncology Ward at Walter Reed, and the party began to grow. It quickly became an institution."

This year's event featured dance performances by Agency 9 Performance Dance Company from Clinton, Md., and a puppet show by the Barryville Baptist Rascals from Berryville, Md.

Guests were also able to take advantage of holiday face painting, Disney princess tea parties, magic tricks and displays from various squadrons on Andrews.

"The list of folks who participated to make this event a success is extensive. All wings on Andrews participated," said Grampp.

There were 71 families in attendance at this year's event. Among them were 5- year attendees Master Sgt. Jeff Clark, White House Communications NCO in charge of satellite communications, and his wife Tanya.

"It's always a good time;" said Jeff, "good food, good people and the kids have a lot of fun."

Highly anticipated guests Mr. and Mrs. Claus arrived in style on a C-37A aircraft to greet families and distribute gifts. The gifts were provided by the Parents and Children Fighting Cancer Christmas fund organization that raised money year-round in support of the annual event.

"We are very grateful for this every year," Tanya added.

The Parents and Children Fighting Cancer holiday party grows each year with more families, events and volunteers.

"If the smiles I saw in the hangar on Saturday are any indication, I'd say we were an overwhelming success," said Grampp. "The families were so appreciative and absolutely humbled that so many people worked to put on such a wonderful event for them. I have had nothing but glowing comments and thanks to all who participated."