Wednesday, September 28, 2011
The Ben Towne Foundation BENefit, 2011
benefit 2011 Feature Video from ben towne foundation on Vimeo.
On Friday night, Gregg and I attended the Ben Towne Foundation's 2nd Annual BENefit at the Sheraton Hotel in Seattle. We had lots of company - there were around 900 people in attendance! Gregg & I attended the fabulous inaugural (launch) party last year, and helped out at the registration table. I think they had double the attendance of their first year on Friday.
We met Carin and Jeff Towne, Ben's parents, through one of Katie's nurses - Shauna, one of her favorites - who took care of both Katie and Ben. Shauna thought that Carin and I might hit it off, and she was right. The four of us (husbands included) have become good friends. (Thanks, Shauna!)
Ben was only two years old when he was diagnosed, on the very day that Katie passed away: August 16, 2007. It's an odd link between our families. Ben had the kind of cancer that the doctors originally thought Katie had (neuroblastoma). He and Katie had the same oncologist, Dr. Julie Park. He was treated for a year and a half before he passed away.
Carin and Jeff started the Ben Towne Foundation to find a cure for pediatric cancer. They have accomplished a mind-boggling amount in the short time the foundation has been up and running, chiefly stimulating the Center for Pediatric Cancer Research at Seattle Children's Hospital to get off the ground, and bringing Dr. Michael Jensen up here to lead its research in immunotherapy.
I'll tell you some of the exceptional things about their foundation.
1) Every single penny that you give goes to pediatric cancer research. Their administrative costs are completely covered by "angels." Check that against any other charity!
2) Their benefits are FUN. There is no auction, no tedious haranguing to purchase things you don't want or need. They have a cocktail party (cocktail attire; no ties for the men), a delicious dinner, an informative speaker (brief), a video, words from Carin & Jeff (always some humor in there) and an "ASK." Then it's over & you get to go home.
3) They know what they are doing, and they do it well.
4) They keep their message simple: it's about getting to a cure sooner, so fewer families have to go through what we have experienced.
One of the special blessings this year was being able to share the event with our family; my parents and brother & sister-in-law sat at our table, as did Gabriele, a blog-reader who is visiting the area from TEXAS! Gabriele also participated in the Run of Hope on Sunday - I'd call that making your vacation into a working, movable, charitable feast - kudos to Gabriele.
My brother & sister-in-law attend a number charity events each year. They have been a big support to us and to Seattle Children's Hospital. I didn't want to ask them to attend another fundraiser, but I did want to share this evening with them, so I invited them. And I know that they enjoyed it - before they left, Jim said that they want to attend next year. That's a wonderful endorsement!
Carin asked Gregg and me to be be in their video presentation this year, to tell Katie's story, along with three other couples telling their children's stories. If you know Gregg, that is worse than being told it's time to go to the dentist. Gregg doesn't like to speak publicly, and he is very private about his grief. But he said "yes," and the result is at the beginning of this post. I am so proud of him, and so thankful that he was beside me sharing Katie's story.
It is a blessing to know the Townes, and to support their foundation's work (which is the same as Katie's Endowment's purpose: to support the Center for Childhood Cancer Research's work).
As soon as the photos and the total amount raised Friday night are available, I'll post them here. Please feel free to share the link to the video - you can help raise awareness & funds!