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"Audrey's Children" highlights Philadelphia trailblazer

"Audrey's Children" documents Dr. Audrey Evans' life
"Audrey's Children" documents Dr. Audrey Evans' life 05:43

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Dr. Audrey Evans, along with former Philadelphia Eagles general manager Jimmy Murray, gave the families of sick children a home. Evans died in September at the age of 97.

Her story may have started in Philadelphia, but soon, the entire world will know how and why this pioneer changed so many lives.

"In a lot of ways, she was the troublemaker," Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House CEO Susan Campbell said. "She was the troublemaker who made change."

Evans may have been a "troublemaker," but she was also a trailblazer.

She created a home for the families of sick children and that home turned into hundreds of homes across the world.

The rest is history, and that history is being documented even now now.

There is going to be a major motion picture about her life and legacy.

"She is a hero and she's the type of person who deserves to be on screen," Julia Fisher Farbman said.

Filming in Philadelphia has ended.

The project is titled "Audrey's Children."

It stars "Game of Thrones" actress Natalia Dormer.

"The movie takes place in 1969 when Audrey first comes to Philadelphia as the first female chief of pediatric oncology at CHOP," Fisher Farbman said. "She would see families sleeping on hospital floors, cutting treatments short because they couldn't afford to stay in town long enough and she came up with this concept of the Ronald McDonald House."

CBS Philadelphia was invited on the set, and on this day, the movie was being filmed on location at the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia.

"It's very rare as a filmmaker that you get, particularly, when you do a biopic like this, to actually be shooting at the location where the events actually occurred," Ami Canaan Mann said, "and there's a magic that occurs when you have that opportunity."

The magic of writing the story was placed in more than capable hands.

Fisher Farbman became close to Evans over the years and described a scene from the film that is near and dear to her heart, a scene she feels describes Evans and all that she believed in.  

"She's talking to a child and she's talking about heaven and what that transition is like and if the treatment doesn't work, what heaven will be like for that child," Fisher Farbman said, "and she just takes the fear away from dying, which is something I haven't seen on screen before. It's just a really beautiful, beautiful scene that captures the nuances of Audrey and how she's able to connect to the children and make a difference in their life."

One of those children is Nick Ciletti.

"I credit her with saving my life," Ciletti said. "I had neuroblastoma when I was a baby. I was diagnosed when I was 7 weeks old and she oversaw my care and she did so much research and so many studies on neuroblastoma, specifically to the point that they actually named the stages of neuroblastoma after her called the Evans Staging System. So she just in so many ways, she saved my life."

Ciletti is a morning news anchor in Phoenix, Arizona.

He may be living far away now from his childhood home, but his friendship with Evans was as close as it could be.

She was like family.

"In every room she walked in, she just lit it up," Ciletti said. "Her smile she had a razor-sharp wit, was so funny, would crack jokes and even up until the very end, I just saw her in March and she was making us laugh. I really feel like she was an angel on earth and she's no longer with us now, but she gets to be with all the other angels, is how I look at it.

When viewers look at this film, they'll be witnessing an extremely special behind-the-scenes story when it comes to the making of.

"I get to be a part of a team telling a story about a woman whose ideas and mission impacted my life personally," filmmaker Andre Saballette said.

Saballette fought retinoblastoma as a child and stayed at the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House. Now, he's on the film crew for "Audrey's Children."

"The Ronald McDonald House is home. Even now when I go back to visit, it feels like I am going back to my childhood home," Saballette said. "I had friends at the house that were also patients, and there was this feeling of not being alone, community that I will always carry with me in my heart. I can't tell you how many times filming, I would shed a tear. To be able to see her story come to life and the genuine caring portrayals of not just her but other folks who played a role is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life."

That is Evans' legacy -- to be remembered as a woman who cared.

"Audrey said to me, she said, 'Julia, if we're going to do this movie, please make sure it makes a difference in the lives of children,'" Fisher Farbman said, "so I hope that people watch it and they do something that helps the children all over the world."

CBS3 hopes you will join us Thursday to "Give a Little Love" as we present our 13th annual Ronald McDonald Charities Telethon.

The telethon is from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on CBS3 and CBS News Philadelphia.

We'll be raising money to help the four Ronald McDonald Houses in our area.

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