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!


Erica said...


What a beautiful, beautiful video! It sounds like The Ben Towne Foundation does great work. You're right, it's very rare to find a foundation that 100% of funds raised go to the cause.

Thank you so much for sharing the video, about the foundation and the wonderful sounding benefit. :)


Kay said...

In tears! What an amazing video. Loved see you and your hubby as well. I'm glad he put himself out there like that for such a great cause. Tell him thanks! : )

Mary Potts said...

Thank you for sharing this video, Karen. Oh, those precious children... oh, the sad parents.
Please God, let us find a cure.
weeping here in IL for my sweet Erin

Busy Bee Suz said...

Oh, I can't tell you how touching and heartfelt that video is. You and Gregg, as well as the other parents did such a wonderful job. I know this could not have been an easy task...but who better to get the word out there than parents who know this disease firsthand?

Kudos to all of you. The event sounds great, I hope they collected gobs of money for research.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your kind words Karen - and again and again for your powerful participation. You are fierce. And I am grateful to call you friend.

With Gratitude,

Amanda said...

Great post Karen! Thank you for sharing!


Amanda Foxall

Elizabeth said...

Oh, Karen, this is both heartbreaking and fantastic. What amazing people -- all of you -- to lend your time, your presence, to such a cause. I am so impressed with the foundation -- with how much actually goes to research -- with your mission to change the way pediatric cancer is treated --

I have to say that I have felt utter burnout when it comes to anything related to pediatric epilepsy research. Part of the burn-out, I think, comes from seeing things done in the orthodox way, over and over and over again.

Kudos to you all for breaking out of the box that philanthropy so often is made of -- I wish you complete and utter success and know that your beloved children's spirits are shining through all of this.

Karen said...

Wow! I got to hear your voice... and Greg's, and see you breathing and moving and not just pictures on a blog. You have so much presence and intensity as you speak on this much credibility. I cried my way throught it. What a beautiful, amazing thing to be part of. They are blessed to have you, and vice versa. You are turning into a mighty champion for a most crucial cause. I am proud to call you friend.