Catch Some Air
Sisters join forces to fight cancer
By Jessica Laskey
In 2015, sisters Brianna and Kristine Tesauro were just like any other 20somethings. Brianna—the elder by four years—was working in hospitality and volunteering. Kristine was employed at a raw food café and saving up for college to become a teacher. But that April, everything changed.
After experiencing unexplained fevers for weeks, Kristine finally went to the hospital for a checkup at the behest of a concerned roommate. That night saved her life. Kristine discovered she had leukemia. Had she waited two more days to go in, she wouldn’t have survived.
What followed were two and a half years of grueling treatments—and a new lease on life that neither sister could have predicted. While at UC Davis Medical Center, Kristine began doodling funny images and positive messages onto T-shirts to keep her and Brianna—who had dropped everything to care for her sister—going in the darkest of times. They had already lost their brother to the disease when he was only 15 years old.
Those doodles are now the foundation of Catch Some Air, a nonprofit organization the sisters started to raise money to take children battling cancer on fun trips and adventures. Sales from the T-shirts, as well as private donations, have helped dozens of kids and their families do everything from visiting Disneyland to skydiving indoors.
“I didn’t even know I could draw until I started doing the T-shirts,” Kristine admits (though she had secretly dreamt of becoming an artist). “It was just a fun, positive thing that kept me going and then it was something I could give other kids to make them happy.”
“It’s very cool that some good stuff came out of (this experience),” Brianna agrees.
The twosome now live in Midtown with their younger brother, Josh, who manages a local branch of a retail store that’s allowing Catch Some Air to use an office in its warehouse to increase production.
Catch Some Air is named after a phrase their grandfather used to mutter when he was frustrated. “Go catch some air,” he’d say (in lieu of “get outta here”). The sisters thought it was the perfect expression to encapsulate their mission of “Helping Kids with Cancer Stay Happy While They Feel Crappy,” as well as connecting families going through rough times.
“It’s often hard to connect because of legal restrictions in the hospital,” Brianna explains. “Doctors aren’t allowed to connect patients,” she says, because that would be a breach of privacy. “But we knew it would help kids going through treatment—and their parents—to be able to relate to other families going through the same thing, so we try to do all the activities as a group.”
To date, Catch Some Air has sponsored dozens of activities, including mini-golf, laser tag, hot air balloon rides and basketball games, as well as quieter activities such as entertaining visits from the Tesauro sisters when a patient is too ill to leave the hospital.
“Our big dream way down the road is to get a big house near a hospital that’s safe and clean—since cancer treatment makes your immune system pretty shot—where kids can hang out and have fun together,” Brianna says.
To that end, the sisters are working on getting Catch Some Air some well-deserved and widespread attention. Now that Kristine is back in action (she finished treatment in July 2017), the dynamic duo hosts pop-up shops and shares their story on local TV and social media to sell as many shirts as possible. They even got to see Ryan Seacrest wearing one of their designs on-air as part of their Dream List, a series of goals—like “See a famous person in our shirt”— listed on their website that generous (sometimes anonymous) donors make possible.
But their biggest goal is to continue helping kids with cancer feel less crappy and more happy.
“Seeing them smile is the best part,” Kristine says.
No doubt Brianna feels the same about her sister.
For more information and to purchase T-shirts, visit catchsomeair.com.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.