Jay wrote the last blog, so this week it’s my turn. We started off 2012 with a bang having held our annual Lemon Ball this past Saturday, January 14. Once again, our amazing supporters did not disappoint and helped us to raise more than $700,000 for childhood cancer research – pretty incredible for one night!
The live auction was something else! Our guest auctioneer, CK Swett, put on a show of his own that helped to raise more than $56,000 from just six items. Among the items were tickets to the Duke vs. UNC basketball game including transportation by private jet with our gala co-chairs, Melanie and Billy King, and a package from Shane Victorino of our hometown Phillies that not only included tickets to a game and autographed items, but a chance to meet Shane on the field and a phone call from the “Flyin’ Hawaiian” himself.
My plate of signature “Liz’s Lemon Cookies” were also a hit, although I can’t take all the credit as we received a great surprise video message from Buddy Valastro, aka -The Cake Boss, who added a selection of his own cookies, a one-of-a-kind lemonade stand cake (check out a picture of the cake to the left) and a tour and line cut to Carlo’s Bakery. Finally, there was a bidding war over an 11-month lease to Alex’s heart painting with it finally going for $18,000, topping previous years’ winning bids. It’s priceless to me, but seeing firsthand how others value a piece of Alex was heartwarming to say the least.
Though the live auction was rather exciting, there were so many poignant and emotional moments throughout the evening that will resonate with me for quite some time. During the award presentations to our incredible honorees (Crystal Cup Awardee -Harry Rose of The Rose Group, Volunteers of the Year - Natalie and Albert Gigliotti, Stand Hosts of the Year – Riley Miller and Family), Riley Miller – a 17-year-old from Bowling Green, Kentucky who has been a staunch supporter of the Foundation raising funds in honor of two baby brothers that her family lost to cancer – received a standing ovation from the crowd. What made the moment even more special was that my oldest son, Patrick, presented Riley with the award since he shared her perspective as someone who lost a sibling to cancer.
Also receiving a well deserved standing ovation was our childhood cancer hero speaker of the evening, 19-year-old Danny Hammond. Danny has been battling “the beast” as he calls it for more than 10 years – we actually met him in the hospital when Alex was receiving treatment at the same time. Danny speaks from the heart and somehow manages to be incredibly moving and hilarious at the same time. Clearly, his words didn’t just make an impression on me as at the end of the live auction, we asked our guests to help fund a research grant in Danny’s name and in no time, nearly $60,000 was raised to honor this courageous young man. Talk about teenagers that are wise beyond their years.
Speaking of teenagers – Wednesday, January 18, was Alex’s birthday in which she would have turned 16-years-old. I miss Alex everyday, but especially as we come across milestones such as the “Sweet 16” – or maybe not so sweet as I hear from some of my friends with teenage daughters. In any case, it makes me think so much about what Alex would be like as a 16-year-old. I’m sure we would have our normal ups and downs like any family (bickering over boys, bathroom time and the car - yikes) but I can’t help but wonder about the amazing things she would have accomplished considering the incredible feats she reached at such a young age.
Although I will never know so many things, I am extremely grateful for her life and being reminded of her beautiful spirit everyday as we continue to help children with cancer through the Foundation. We’ve raised more than $50 million for childhood cancer research with the help of others who were inspired by Alex, and each year that we celebrate her birthday, we come closer to realizing my daughter’s dream of a day when kids won’t get cancer.
A special thank you to our sponsors of The 2012 Lemon Ball as well as all of our supporters who remain dedicated to our cause!
-Liz Scott, Alex's Mom