Questions for Sandy Hobbs


How was PANDA founded?

PANDA was founded by Robyn Debell and Penny Gunning following the loss of a friend’s child to a fatal blood cancer. Twenty years ago, they realized that funding children’s medical research would impact not only children in Arizona, but around the world.


How are you celebrating PANDA’s 20th anniversary?

We will celebrate at our “Children Helping Children” Fashion Show and Luncheon on March 30, with 59 child models, including current and past patients of the Steele Children’s Research Center.


What projects are you funding in 2019?

The 2019 research project brings up back to our roots as PANDAs – funding childhood cancer research. The PANDA Childhood Cancer Inflammation Project will look at young kids undergoing bone marrow transplants, and research ways in which their diet and gut health impact their treatment. 

Why does the Phoenix community so generously support a Tucson facility?

The Steele Children’s Research Center is the only academic research center in the state of Arizona, and its impact is far reaching. Of the 60,000 patient visits per year, a large percentage are children from the Phoenix area. 

What is your most significant moment in your time as a PANDA?

There isn’t just one. It’s each time a patient model walks down the runway and I feel the strength they have battling their illness. To see the smiles on their faces warms my heart.

Where do you see PANDA in 20 years?

During our first 20 years, seed money from PANDA has been the catalyst for nearly $100 million in grants for the Steele Children’s Research Center. There is more to come!