Category

Catie’s Fund

Effingham County’s Catie’s Gathering 2020

An amazing group of people came together in Effingham County on Saturday, March 7th to enjoy a great night of community and raise money to fund life-saving research for pediatric cancers. This was the 10th annual dinner benefiting Catie’s Fund, a named fund of CURE Childhood Cancer. Formerly called Sisters on a Journey, the event is now known as Catie’s Gathering.

The on-going rain in the community prior to the event necessitated a last-minute move from Honey Ridge Agri-Center to Marlow Elementary School. Several schools and organizations in the county stepped forward to offer their space once word of the need to move got out. Members of the community all pitch in and do what they can to make a difference – which is a classic example of what makes this event so special. Two in-kind sponsors, Carlson’s Premier Events and Kaufman Heinz, were instrumental in making the venue change successful.

Other than the move to Marlow, things went as planned. Sponsors, in-kind donors, CURE families, volunteers, table hostesses, and guests all came out for a great night. Before the start of the event, guests enjoyed perusing silent auction items and listening to live music provided by local band, Goshen Travelers.

One of the things that makes this event so unique is that each table is decorated individually. The table hostesses chose a theme or color scheme and created elaborate tablescapes and centerpieces. The hostesses certainly weren’t shy on creativity when they came up with themes like Crushing Cancer, We’ve “Goat” to CURE Childhood Cancer, Cooking for a CURE, and Kissing Childhood Cancer Goodbye.

Emcee, Lonnie Pate, started the program by welcoming the crowd. Simply Southern Catering served guests a delicious meal and Southern Kafe on 17 provided a great coffee bar. Door prizes and an exciting live auction with auctioneer, Kenny Williams, really got things rolling. Kenny later shaved his head in honor of kids fighting cancer and to celebrate all the money raised that night.

CURE’s Jenny Wilkins and teenage cancer survivor, Seth Rousch, shared some facts about childhood cancer with the crowd before Seth shared about his journey through childhood cancer. He shared some very difficult parts of his story including the months he spent away from home undergoing CAR T-cell therapy and eventually a bone marrow transplant.

In a poignant display, cancer survivors and families who had lost their child to cancer were invited down front for a candle-lighting. Each family or survivor shared the name and diagnosis of their warrior. The room was silent during this beautiful and moving moment as they realized just how many local families have been affected by childhood cancer. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as these families lit candles and guests in the room stood to honor cousins, grandchildren, or siblings who had fought similar battles.

Thank you, Effingham County, for coming together once again. Everyone did their part and worked to raise $168,885 to improve treatment for children with cancer. We can’t wait until 2021!

Savannah’s Catie’s Gathering 2020

Where can you find 550 guests gathered on a Friday evening wearing everything from medical scrubs, to camouflage, to flapper costumes all coming together for the same reason… to raise much needed funds for childhood cancer research? No where other than Savannah’s Catie’s Gathering Event benefiting CURE Childhood Cancer!

Savannah showed up in a big way on Friday, February 7th at the Kehoe Ironworks building overlooking the river downtown. Coastal Electrics attended as the event’s Title Sponsor. In addition, many other sponsors, in-kind donors, hospital staff, patient parents, volunteers, table hostesses, and guests were in attendance. Everyone enjoyed a cocktail hour while perusing silent auction items and listening to live music provided by local band, Tell Scarlet. Special thanks to Carlson’s Premier Events for helping make the room look beautiful.

The table hostesses chose a theme or color scheme and created elaborate tablescapes and centerpieces. The hostesses certainly weren’t shy on creativity when they came up with themes like When Life Gives You Lemons, Speakeasy, Fight Hard, Do you Wanna find a CURE (complete with Frozen’s Olaf the Snowman), and a Top Gun tribute; The Need For a CURE.

WSAV reporter, Andrew Davis, served as the nights emcee and Silk Road Catering provided guests with a delicious meal. While it was served, they listened to Jenny Wilkins, Co-Founder of Catie’s Fund, interview three Savannah teens: Seth Rousch, Lauren Stephens, and Lily Stuckey. The teens shared the trials of their cancer journies and what’s been happening in their lives over the past twelve months. Each shared some very difficult stories.

  • When Seth’s disease did not reach remission, he spent months away from home undergoing Car T Cell Therapy and eventually a bone marrow transplant.
  • Lauren’s relapsed stage-4 neuroblastoma didn’t respond to treatment until after she received genetic testing through Precision Medicine and began a clinical trial drug that targeted her genetic mutation. Managing life and treatment as a new college freshman with cancer was difficult. Lauren experienced a setback in her treatment, but she has a positive outlook for the future.
  • Lily’s leukemia treatment has not been easy but meeting a friend with the same diagnosis made cancer more tolerable. Lily shared how her friend, Kylie Shiell, who sat with her at the same event in 2019, passed away a few months earlier.

“Kylie did all her big things in life on the 13th of month,” Lily bravely said. “She was born on September 13, diagnosed with leukemia on April 13, and on November 13, 2019, I lost my cancer bestie.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when a tribute video to Kylie was played and Lily presented a special wooden angel that she painted to Kylie’s mother, Ashley, as a gift.

After an exciting live auction with auctioneer, Kenny Williams, guests left with full bellies and full hearts knowing that Savannah once again rallied together to fund better treatments for the community’s youngest cancer fighters.

“One of my favorite parts of the evening was when Jenny began talking with 18-year-old Lauren,” guest Katie Kelley wrote. “She explained how the treatment that finally worked for Lauren, was a result of the Precision Medicine Program that CURE is funding through events like this!”

Thank you, Savannah, for coming together once again. Everyone did their part to raise $140,000 to improve treatment for children with cancer. We can’t wait until 2021!

A New Name, Same Impactful Event

Dear friends,

When we think about all of the good that’s been done by those in our community of friends and neighbors through Catie’s Fund over the last twelve and a half years, we’re at a loss for words. You guys have blown us away time after time with your generosity and your heart for kids battling cancer. We are so grateful for each and every one of you and all you have done. You’ve helped us grow and you’ve helped increase the impact we’re able to have.

In fact, you’ve helped us grow so much that changes are ahead for our signature events. Many of you know that our Sisters on a Journey dinners have been a huge success in the communities in which they’re held. Friends and neighbors have gathered together to enjoy a wonderful evening in their community and to make a difference in the fight against childhood cancer. These events have grown so much that it’s time for a change.

We feel that the use of the word sisters in Sisters on a Journey limits us a bit. While these events still have many more women than men in attendance, we don’t ever want to limit interest and participation because of a name. To that end we have brainstormed for many months about a name that would feel more inclusive. We considered and tossed out well over 100 names and have settled on Catie’s Gathering.

To us, the name conjures up an image of a community coming around the table for a good cause – which is exactly what makes these events work. And, there weren’t many things that Catie loved more than gathering with the people she loved most – often with peanuts around the fire pit, at the beach, at home, or wherever her people happened to be.

To encourage continuity between old and new, the Catie’s Gathering logo was designed to mirror the look of the existing Catie’s Fund logo. The designs will also help folks who don’t yet know us see the relationship between Catie’s Fund and Catie’s Gathering. We are truly excited about this change and would love your support as we make the transition.

We’re also hoping to continue growing Catie’s Gathering to new locations and communities. This event is a blast and is easy to reproduce. If you’re interested, please reach out and let us know. You can email us at [email protected] . For more information on Catie’s Gathering, visit www.catiesgathering.org .

 

Ever so gratefully,

Tre’, Jenny, Izzy, and Chip

Statesboro’s Sisters on a Journey

When a child is diagnosed with cancer, it really does take a community of supporters to make the child’s family feel loved and supported. Statesboro mom Jody Polk knows this first hand. When her daughter, Anna Hays, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of two, the Polks’ family, friends, and the entire community rallied on her behalf. Jody’s desire to give back to other families facing a similar diagnosis was evident at the Statesboro Sisters on Journey Dinner on April 13. About 350 guests gathered at The Belle House, a beautiful venue that was perfect for the evening. Hostesses creatively decorated their tables in a variety of themes and every single table was unique and beautiful. Tears filled Jody’s eyes as she kicked of the 2019 event by dedicating the evening to the memory of sweet Morgan Frison, a four- year-old Statesboro girl who passed away in November due to complications from her cancer treatment.

“Morgan’s life held such beautiful potential,” Jody said. “She had such a future and her it was her treatment, not her cancer, that ultimately killed her. We want her family to know that precious Morgan and the thousands of children like her are the reason that CURE will continue to raise funds and push for less harsh treatments created specifically for children.”

Savannah band, Tell Scarlet, provided musical entertainment as guests mingled and checked out table decorations and nearly 200 silent auction items on the back porch of The Belle House. Statesboro welcomed emcee Jamie Deen back for the third time. Jamie is son of cooking icon, Paula Deen, and a familiar face in South Georgia. Jamie entertained the guests until a delicious dinner, provided by Honey Catering, was served.

The focus then shifted to the purpose of the evening as Karen Rutherford and her daughter, Katie, took the stage. Karen is CURE’s Patient and Family Services Manager and Katie is a survivor of rhabdomyosarcoma. Both were open and transparent about the difficulties and triumphs of Katie’s battle. They movingly shared some of the toughest things about Katie’s treatment and helped everyone in attendance understand a little more of what it is like to fight cancer as a teenager. Karen wrapped up their story by sharing about the continued need for funding for research for better and more current treatments for kids battling cancer. The evening closed with an exciting live auction hosted by auctioneer, Joe Lanier. It was a beautiful, meaningful night.

We are thrilled to announce that our 2019 Statesboro Sisters on a Journey Event raised $81,000 for Catie’s Fund! These funds will support CURE’s precision medicine initiative, which brings individualized, gene-based treatment to children with cancer. Precision medicine is one of the most promising new areas of research for improving survival rates in children while lessening harsh side effects.

We are extremely grateful to all our sponsors, auction donors, volunteers, and tables hostesses who made this evening so special. Thank you, Statesboro!

 

 

Presenting Sponsors for our 2019 Sisters on a Journey Events are The Little Bird Foundation, Memorial Health, Coastal Electric, Savannah Toyota, and The McGraley Company.

Effingham County’s Sisters on a Journey

Effingham County showed up and gave generously once again at the Effingham Sisters on Journey Dinner on March 9, 2019. Over 900 guests gathered at beautiful Honey Ridge Plantation near Guyton, GA, a venue generously donated for use by the Effingham County Board of Education. The tables were set in a spacious white tent (provided by Ranco Tent Rentals) that was perfect for the event. Hostesses once again creatively decorated their tables in a variety of themes and every, single one was unique and beautiful.

Guests perused more than 400 silent auction items under the rustic barn lit with Edison bulbs donated by Carlson’s Premier Events. A local band, Goshen Travelers, provided great entertainment as guests mingled and checked out the beautifully decorated tables. Later, emcee Lonnie Pate began the program by drawing door prizes, and then a delicious dinner was provided by Simply Southern Catering. Following dinner, auctioneer, Kenny Williams got the crowd going for an exciting live auction. Next came one of the favorite parts of the Effingham dinner: the raffle drawings for themed baskets donated by generous hostesses.

The heart of the evening was panel of patients and moms who took the stage to share about their journey through childhood cancer. Kelli Stuckey and her daughter, Lily, shared about some scary moments in Lily’s treatment for leukemia. Alana Williams and her daughter, Nevaeh, talked about the difficulties of travelling back and forth to Atlanta for treatment and shared about Nevaeh’s sixteen-hour surgery to remove thirteen tumors from her abdomen. Ashley Shiell and her daughter, Kylie, talked about the challenges of being a teenager and having cancer. Kylie pointed out how difficult it has been to miss playing the sport she loves while battling leukemia. Finally, Ashley Beam told the crowd about her son, John, who died last October after a difficult battle with neuroblastoma. She graciously helped the crowd know who John was and shared how new neuroblastoma treatments are desperately needed. All of the panel guests were open and honest about the difficulties of their journeys, but each also shared of the things they have learned during this time in a powerful and moving manner.

It was a beautiful evening, and we are thrilled to announce that our 2019 Effingham Sisters on a Journey Event raised $144,000 for Catie’s Fund! These funds will support CURE’s precision medicine program which offers individualized therapies based on the patient’s genetics. This innovative research envisions more effective treatment while limited the harsh side effects of current methods.

We are extremely grateful to all our sponsors, auction donors, volunteers, and tables hostesses who made this evening possible. Thank you, Effingham County!

 

Presenting Sponsors for our 2019 Sisters on a Journey Events are Memorial Health, Coastal Electric, Savannah Toyota, and The McGraley Company.

Savannah’s Sisters on a Journey

“A beautiful night, an amazing evening, a worthy cause, an outstanding event!”

These are the words Sisters on a Journey guests are using to describe Savannah’s Sisters on Journey Dinner on February 8th. Over 500 guests gathered at the restored historic Kehoe Ironworks building at The Trustees’ Garden venue in downtown Savannah. As guests walked through the doors, they posed for photos taken by South Magazine. Upon entry to the main event space, guests were overwhelmed by the lovely, original table themes and décor. The hostesses decorated tables with everything from traditional dinner décor to themed tables in honor or memory of a patient such as the sailboat tables in honor of Malone, a 16-year-old leukemia patient who loves sailing. There were just fun themes that lent themselves to easily dressing up as a group. Some original group themes this year were a karate kid themed table, “Kick Childhood Cancer”, a Beetles Yellow Submarine Table, “All Together for a CURE” complete with Beetles shaped cookies and record album dinner chargers, a Succulent filled table containing signs with phrases like “Childhood Cancer is a real prick”, and a Frida Kahlo inspired table created by Tequilla’s Town Restaurant with a sign that read, “Let’s TeqKILLa Cancer.” Every single table was unique and beautiful.

Guests enjoyed cocktails and perusing silent auction items on the patio while listening to music provided by local band, Tell Scarlet. A delicious dinner was provided by Silk Road Catering. After dinner, emcee Andrew Davis drew door prizes, allowed patients to share why CURE is important, and introduced keynote speaker, Kristine Bothwell. Kristine shared the story of her daughter Ella’s cancer journey. Kristine drove home the need for new improved research for pediatric cancer by sharing that Astronaut Neil Armstrong’s young daughter, Karen, lost her life in 1962 to the same disease, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, that took Ella’s life in 2016. Kristine said, “In 55 years, we can put a man on the moon, but we still do not have an effective treatment for DIPG. This is unacceptable.” There was not a dry eye in the crowd when Kristine showed a video tribute of Ella’s life.

At the end of the evening, Andrew Davis and Auctioneer, Kenny Williams got the crowd going during an exciting live auction. We are thrilled to announce that our 2019 Savannah Sisters on a Journey Event raised $130,000 for Catie’s Fund! These funds will support Precision Medicine which enables patients whose cancer has not responded to traditional methods to undergo genetic testing to help doctors decide which treatment might target that patient’s specific cancer without harsh side effects. We are extremely grateful to all our sponsors, auction donors, volunteers, high school volunteers, and tables hostesses who made this evening possible. Thank you, Savannah!

 

Presenting Sponsors for our 2019 Sisters on a Journey Events are Memorial Health, Coastal Electric, Savannah Toyota, and The McGraley Company.

The Incredible Progress of Sisters on a Journey

Tre and Jenny Wilkins’ firstborn daughter, Catie, was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer called medullablastoma on her first birthday. During Catie’s journey, the family learned that Tre’s cousin had passed away from the same cancer twenty years prior. To their dismay, there had been no advancement in treatment for medullablastoma in two decades. After a long and hard battle, the Wilkins lost Catie in 2007. After her passing, Tre and Jenny decided that they must do something to try to help improve treatment. They couldn’t bear to think of another twenty years with no improvements in treatment to offer other families. CURE Childhood Cancer had been an organization that was helpful to the Wilkins throughout Catie’s treatment. They liked CURE because not only did CURE fund exclusively pediatric cancer research, but it served patients and families as well, something no other organization in the area was doing at the time. The Wilkins set up a named fund through CURE called Catie’s Fund and committed to raising funds to support CURE’s research grants.

The Wilkins tried fundraising through golf tournaments and sporting events, but they didn’t enjoy hosting those events. In 2009, Jenny and a friend were brainstorming fundraising ideas and decided to try something different. They wanted to solicit women as table hostesses who would invite friends, decorate their table, and enjoy an evening for a great cause. Their idea was to name the event, “Sisters on a Journey,” referring to all the friends, family members, fellow cancer moms, nurses, co-workers, and community members who supported the Wilkins throughout their journey. The first Sisters on a Journey dinner was held in the social hall of a local church. About 150 women attended and raised $5000. Jenny and Tre felt the event was a success and decided to do it again.

Each year since 2009, Sisters on a Journey has experienced significant growth. Jenny Wilkins now has a team of volunteers who serve on a planning committee. Jenny partnered up with Mandy Garola, CURE’s Patient and Family Services Manager in Savannah, in 2014 to replicate the event in Savannah to reach more people. In 2015, more than 120 women committed to hosting tables in Savannah and the original Effingham County location. The table hostesses elaborately decorate their own tables which makes the event fun and unique. Many guests match their dress to their table theme.  Last year, a group of pediatric oncology nurses from Savannah came donned in their 1920’s-inspired attire to match their Gatsby themed table. Both the Savannah and Effingham dinners included a live and silent auction and raised more than $110,000 for Catie’s Fund to fund research.

The event continues to grow, expanding to Statesboro in 2016 and adding a Bryan County event in 2017.

Sisters on a Journey has become something guests look forward to each year. With the help of loyal hostesses and guests, Catie’s Fund has raised more than $500,000 in the past six years. It’s amazing what the vision of one family has inspired.

 

 

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