All I can say about Saturday is WOW! It was simply amazing. We had around 200-250 people, we screened 70 people for skin cancer and we raised almost $10,000 to fight cancer. WOW!
The event was a BBQ & Silent Auction with two bands. We had a SpongBob Moon Bounce for the kids along with Pogo Sticks, Hula Hoops, and more. BTW Irma the BTHO Cancer Tattoos were a huge hit with the kids as well. We had Fire Trucks and Rescue Trucks at the event. We tried to get a Rescue Helicopter to land at the event, but we were denied a permit for a non-emergency related landing (probably best anyway). It was a gorgeous sunny HOT (what day in June isn’t hot in Houston?) day and the rain held off until it was time for cleanup. Representatives from the Mary Crowley Research Center in Dallas even came to the event. They said they would not miss it because Julie was such a fantastic patient.
When my brother first called and told me he was going to help Joe (Julie’s brother) plan a benefit I naturally thought we would all be paying $5.00 to drink Keg Beer at some Fire Station or Camp Site. (If you know Joe & Rob, you know this was a valid thought.) I have to say the event was so far from what I expected.
The SpongeBob Moon Bounce. Made for kids, but a big attraction for adults who want to be kids.
We had an amazing turnout. I think 200-250 people. Simply amazing. I was amazed by so many of the faces I saw. Some of them Julie & I had been friends with in grade school and probably had not seen in 20+ years. It took me a bit to recognize many of them because it has been so long. But there they were…at the benefit. We had friends from college drive all the way from the Valley (several hours away) to attend the benefit. Many people drove from the North side of Houston (which is a good hour and half away.) Parents of kids Julie & I went to high school with showed up to the event. Some of them were parents who we knew from our circle of friends in High School. But some of them were parents of kids we had only known in passing. Girls we played softball with showed up. We quit playing softball when we were 14 years old.
A good portion of “The Gang” from Intermediate & High School. Liz Triem Yeoman with her son Clayton, Julie Koch Lyons, Frankie Binetti, Janene Zetka Martinec, Me, Kathy Voight Nuernberg with a child that wasn’t one of hers, and Jenny Garman Arkinson with baby son in belly. Frankie was not the only boy we hung out with, he was just the only one there for the picture.
So many of these people came up to me and said, “We just wanted to show up to find out how we can help and what we can do.” One of our childhood friends said to me, “When I heard Julie was sick and there was benefit for her I just knew Jennifer was going to be involved somewhere.” I really liked that comment because this was someone who only knew we had been good friends in grade school.
So many of these people came out because Julie had touched their lives in some way, or touched the lives of someone they loved. What also amazed me was the large contingent of people at the event who were friends of my brother Rob and of my father. The place was crawling with emergency personnel guys. We had firemen, paramedics, police officers, etc. Rob even lined up 3 Fire Trucks to come out to the benefit for the kids entertainment (let me tell you there were some little kids and some grown up kids that we could not get off those fire trucks!). We had Fire Trucks from 3 different cities at the event.
Two of the Three Fire Trucks Rob lined up for the Event.
There were so many of Julie & Brendan’s neighbors, of business associates from Julie’s work and from Shirley’s (Julie’s mom) Avon business. There were friends of her siblings. We even had complete strangers join us, and boys from the skate park and the pool next door. We didn’t care; we had enough food and drinks for everyone. We just wanted to spread the word.
The Cancer Screening
Thanks to the fantastic Dr. Mary Garman (who happens to be the sister of a dear friend of ours that we grew up with) we were able to offer free skin cancer screening. We were supposed to have two Dr.’s at the event but due to a death in the family, we only had Mary. Mary worked double time, only taking one break in 5 hours and she was able to screen 70 people, many of whom were referred for biopsy. We might have made a difference right there!
Dr. Mary Garman and her two FANTASTIC volunteer assitants. Did I tell you the Cancer Screening Tent was air conditioned (thanks Lil’ Joe). Perhaps that is why we had such a high turnout on getting screened.
I also have to tell you about the fantastic cooking team. We had a team of guys who cooked 30 briskets and 30 chickens all through the night Friday. One of our childhood friends Kenneth was not able to be at the event on Saturday because he had a family reunion. So he whipped up tons of his famous BBQ sauce and helped cook until 2 a.m Friday night.
A portion of the Cooking Team (Kenneth Martinec, Joe Koch, Rob Kerber & James “Bear” Sparks)
With just a few simple emails we had so many people secure fantastic items for the silent auction. At the event, there were some serious bidding wars going on. The big bidding war items were the Weekend & Week Beach House Rental and the Kemah Boardwalk Family Fun Pass. But the item that really took me by surprise was the Free Hooters Party for 25 people. As we were trying to close down the auction the person who won the item (I am keeping said person’s name a secret as I think this person is going to use this item as a surprise gift for their significant other) was standing next to it, pen ready to out bid what ever anyone wrote down. We actually ran out of bidding space on that item!
Oh yes, the other thing that I thought was very cute was the kids figured out how this silent auction thing worked. So pretty soon they were going around and bidding on things they liked. It would be really cute because you would see a kids handwriting (barely formed letters using up half the paper) and a $ amount next to certain items. I think a few parents won items they didn’t even know they were bidding on!
The kids keeping a close eye on the WebKinz Auction items (Maddie Davis, Hallie & Jackson Lyons)
Oh yes, and I would be completely remiss if I did not tell you what a HUGE hit the Shotgun Raffle was. It was a camouflage shot gun and raffle tickets went like crazy. One of Rob’s work buddies ended up winning it.
This has been a really long post and I apologize. But I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who attended, who spread the word, who secured donation items, who bid on items, who helped us set up and breakdown, who cooked, who simply called or emailed with their support. It could not have been done with out you.
But most of all I want to thank Rob & Joe, because had it not been for them (and a plate of Hot Wings & Beer at Hooters which led to the idea of a benefit) we would not have had such a successful event. I would also have to be remiss if I did not thank my cousins Greg & Bear who offered to help when Rob told them about it. They were basically the caterer of the event..and if you know anything about catering and setting up tables and chairs and food for 200+ well…they worked their butt off.
Mark your calendars because we will be having the 2nd Annual BTHO Cancer benefit in June 2008.
Hallie, Julie & Jackson
FYI: BTHO = Beat The Hell Outta…Its an Aggie Thing. Had a lot of people ask on Saturday.