Monday, May 3, 2010

The Moyer Foundation 2010 Annual Giving Luncheon

The Moyer Foundation posted the following update on facebook Friday:

"Thank you for supporting the 2010 Annual Giving Luncheon- helping to raise more than $250,000 for children in distress in our community."
How wonderful, to read that!

The event was lovely, and very well done.
My mom and I arrived a bit early, and were welcomed at the "VIP reception" on the 35th floor of the Sheraton. We were kindly greeted by Foundation staff, and served hors d'oeuvres by the catering staff. There was a lovely buffet and champagne, but Mom and I agreed that alcohol was NOT in our best interests, under the circumstances.

A staff member came to invite me to pose for photographs with Jamie and Karen Moyer. I went with her. As we met for the first time, the Moyers couldn't have been more welcoming or gracious. Karen said something about me being "a rose between two thorns." She also told me that, if I had any trouble at all getting through my talk, I should look for her - she would be right nearby for support. Very kind. She was also wearing a fabulous outfit, with KILLER shoes...I mean to say.

I went back to the table where Mom was waiting, and we listened to a few words from a Board member, and from the Moyers. After that, it was time to go downstairs to find our lunch table. We were seated with people from the Hutch School, the group by whom I was invited to speak. David and Katie both attended the Hutch School - David for most of his 9th grade year while Katie was in the hospital, and Katie for the last month or two of the same (her 6th grade) school year. Both of the kids LOVED the Hutch School, and I was looking forward to speaking on their behalf, in support of their excellent program.

Let me back up: the Hutch School is supported, in part, by the Moyer Foundation.  I'm very familiar with the Hutch, but was not as familiar with the Moyer Foundation. After I accepted their invitation to speak, the executive director of the Moyer Foundation suggested that I come over to meet him and some of the staff, so that I could learn more about them, and they could get to know me a bit better.

I drove over to the Moyer Foundation office on Magnolia Bluff. It was inspiring; they are excited about what they do, and committed to doing it well. As we were getting acquainted, the executive director realized that our family had been helped by the Moyer Foundation's generosity much more than any of us had known. Since they support Ronald McDonald House, Childlife &Advanced Care at Seattle Children's Hospital, Hospice, the American Cancer Society's Camp GoodTimes West AND the Hutch School, he felt there was a lot more that I could say...yet still, just five minutes in which to say it, at the luncheon!

I went home and did some writing, and re-writing, and editing. I practiced, and edited some more. I read it aloud with Latte "heckling" me (rubbing up against my legs, purring and distracting). And then I was as ready as possible.

I am not a public speaker. I love to write, and tell stories, but delivering them on stage is daunting, and it's not getting any easier with practice. Smaller groups are better for me. This room, the Sheraton's "grand ballroom," had about 75 tables, set for 10 people. I'm not kidding - there were nearly 800 people in attendance. Huge video screens were placed around the room so that everyone could see the stage, from every place in the room.

It was a luncheon; just one hour. Very good for business people, and the staff kept it moving and on time. The Moyer Foundation volunteers and staff members were awesome, courteous and professional. Awards were given to the Volunteer of the Year, Youth Volunteer of the Year, the Humanitarian Award and the Corporate Partner Award. All were inspiring. Steve Raible (a local news broadcaster and MC of the event) spoke. A board member spoke; the executive director spoke. Karen & Jamie Moyer spoke. I kept counting my note cards, to be sure I hadn't lost one, while we ate lunch. I didn't eat much - I was concerned that I might end up with bit of parsley or green onion stuck between my teeth, and I was having fear fantasies about that - but I did eat some chicken, so that I wouldn't get up on stage and faint (another fear fantasy). Have I mentioned that I'm not a professional speaker?

A staff member came to get me. I stood by one of the enormous video screens, to the side of the stage, and leaned against the wall. My legs started to tremble. I bent one knee (an old trick learned in junior high school choir - thanks, Mr. Taylor!) and relaxed the other leg. Switched legs and prayed: "Jesus, help me. I just want to thank God and do a good job for the Moyer Foundation. Help me get through this. I don't want to cause a scene. Help me." I looked for the people at my table, and figured that at least one of them (my mom) would be praying with me.
My legs stopped trembling. I felt calm. The signal came for me to walk up on stage. I did it.

The lights were very bright. I saw myself, out of the corner of my eye, on the huge video screens. Bad idea! So I looked at my notes, and began to tell the story - the five-minute version - of our cancer journey, describing the Hutch School experience and the other blessings that the Moyer Foundation supports. I was aware of photos of Katie flashing on the video screens, but decided not to look. I had to focus on what I was saying, and try to look around the room, to make eye contact with the audience.
Toward the end, I found the Moyers. They had been seated right in front of me all along, but the lights were so bright that I couldn't see them. Karen was leaning on Jamie.

I finished. I stepped down from the stage. Steve Raible shook my hand. The Moyers came up and hugged me very warmly. Karen walked me back to my table, with her arm around me. She is just so kind.

Afterward, I was able to meet the Metcalfs, the parents of Erin Metcalf, who was the inspiration for Camp Erin. Camp Erin is a nationwide camp for grieving children that was created and funded by the Moyer Foundation. The Metcalfs were very gracious and understanding. I saw people from many of the departments that I had been able to mention: Seattle Children's Hospital's Foundation, Hematology/Oncology department, Childlife; Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and others. I am so grateful that I was able to use words to paint a picture, to raise awareness and support for these wonderful entities and the people who staff them.
I can't write a huge check for my favorite causes, but if my words can move others to do so, it's worth dealing with my shaky legs and discomfort to help make that happen. I'm willing; I just need a little rest in between times! So I'm enjoying some quiet days now.


Erin said...

Karen~ What an incredible and moving experience. It sounds like the luncheon was a great success. Can't wait to see pictures....job well done my dear!

Ellen said...

You did it! Getting up in front of so many people..even if you don't know them personally, it indeed daunting. Good trick with the legs...I learned that too so you don't lock your knees and fall over.

When you believe in what you say, nerves may be there but you will be carried along by your commitment...

Allegra Smith said...

You are indeed a rose among many thorns. I am so proud of you! each one of us in the measure of our capacity and will to help, do what is needed. And you do it with grace and with kindness. How proud must Katie be of your contributions! Many blessings and loving friendship from here, Karen. You are one in a million.

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Well done.
Carin said...

What a great job you did; I just know it! On behalf of all who benefit from your labors, I thank you for all you do to make a difference in the world for future cancer sufferers and their families. You are one amazing lady...

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you for your courage. I know your efforts will be fruitful

Karen B.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, Karen. I'm crying a bit thinking of you and your beautiful words and face and so small and brave up there in front of 800 people. I want to say, "Holy Shit!" I wish that I'd been there, although it would have been difficult not to jump up and down when you spoke. I'm proud to know you.

Kay said...

Yes, it sounds like you need some rest. But good for you, getting out there and giving that speech. I would have been scared to death. I have trouble sharing even in a tiny group. I know you did a great job!

Mary Potts said...

How wonderful that you stood for your cause, in spite of buckling knees!

It takes a lot of courage to speak in front of a crowd, but when you're fueled by something and someone (your beautiful Katie) so close to your heart, all things become possible.

Hurray for you Karen!

Dawn ~ BJSMomma said...

Great post, and EVEN IF your legs were shaky...they looked great in that fantastic outfit! :-)


Busy Bee Suz said...

Karen, how wonderful for you to be a part of this wonderful cause!!
I applaud you for getting up there and saying what you could to keep this going! I still can't believe that Latte was heckling you though...perhaps a few days without kibble??? :)

You and your Mom look so pretty too...and I delclare for all of blog world: Purple is YOUR color!!!