The SAMFund hosted their 3rd annual fundraiser in Chicago this past week. I was on the planning committee with some crazy talented and amazing people. This year, we did something a little different than we have in the past- we did not do the "cornhole", rather, went to Haymarket Brewery and hosted both a silent and a live auction. The committee and I gathered many different auction items, and as a side note, I have to thank my wonderful donors who donated to the auction. Shout out to:
Tracy Sieban, George Steimer, Brendan Perrin, Jen Baxter, Jan Baxter, Jen & Jake Moreland, Adam Koch, Michael Lombombard, Emily Costigan, Johnny Rivera, Amber Sievers, and Steve Sievers, who donated his live auction-ing talents! Thank you to everyone who was able to contribute to our silent auction, live auction, & raffle.
So, back to the night. As usual, I was waiting in excitement for the past couple of nights. Funny, I was talking with one of the board members, and all around amazing woman, Sharon Karsten, about how I started my blog! It was the night of our very first fundraiser, back in 2009. I love that to this day, our efforts have continued, and we've gotten even bigger. It's always a blast planning for the events, but once the event starts, you get this "high", and it's like nothing else. I got to Haymarket (a little late, thanks Lakeshore traffic), and was a bit nervous, as usual, because I was going to go up, on stage, and share my story. I'm not big on being center of attention, I actually will do all to avoid it. In the past, I usually will prepare my little speech, but every time I've gotten on stage, that little prepared speech goes out the window. This year I realized that I don't have to practice, how could I screw up my own story? So, the night starts out, and I get to see all my committee members. I then get to see Sam, who I don't get to see too often because she lives in Boston, so I was really happy to see her. I mean, she changed my life.... so it's always a pleasure getting to hang out with her in person. We had a big private room in back, which suddenly seemed so small. It seemed small because we had SO MANY PEOPLE come out for the event, which touched my heart. You had to squeeze and maneuver your way through the crowd, and I was loving every minute of it. Our silent auction was doing well, I started selling raffle tickets. It was great. It was about time for me to get up on stage, and my entire body was shaking. It wasn't that I didn't want to go up, it's just scary because everyone is looking at you. Sam got up and introduced our committee and thanked them. I then went up to share my story. Suddenly, as usual, all my nervousness went out the window, and I shared my story. It is always tough- I'm not shy about it, I'm actually proud of it, but it always gets a little emotional. I didn't want to start crying in front of 100+ people, but I made it through, and each time I get up there to share my story, I look in the crowd's eyes, and see the connection. They know exactly what their money and donations are going towards, and I would share it a million more times in front on a million more people if I had to. I guess it makes me a little selfish, because after sharing my story, I get this great feeling. I know that it helps impact people. It helps people understand. It helps other cancer survivors out there, like me, get one step closer to a grant from The SAMFund.
We then decided, impromptu, to do a live auction. Lyndsae, an amazing Hodgkin's Lymphoma survivor and past grant recipient, was donating a private yoga lesson. Even more amazing, she used her grant to help fund her training to become a yoga certified instructor, and also specializes in yoga for cancer patients. Who wouldn't want that private lesson? Steve, my father in law, was volunteered by me to get up and be our live auctioneer. He was wonderful. We ended up raising $400 for that yoga lesson, which is just incredible. We couldn't have done it without you Steve... Lyndsae was so touched, and I was standing up on the stage next to her and Sam while Steve was auctioning it off, and you could just feel the great energy in the room. Smiles all around. We then announced our raffle winners and silent auction winners, and I was starting to get sad because I knew the night was nearing its end.
People were coming up to me congratulating me on everything, telling me how touched they were with my story. Everyone was hugging me, and I met the most wonderful people. I had so much fun, and even though I'm an old lady when it comes to my sleep- meaning in bed by 10pm.... I refused to leave that event until everyone else was gone. It was hard saying bye to everyone, especially Sam! As the crowd filtered out, I knew it was time to go. Chris and I walked to the car, and I was just glowing with excitement. It's bittersweet saying goodbye to everyone, but I was waiting in anticipation to see how much money we raised.
On a HUGE side note, I wanted to thank my husband, Chris. Chris was amazing. Besides helping me gather auction items, Chris did every and anything he could during the night. He sold raffle tickets, let us borrow his father, left work in the suburbs extra early just to come out, photographed the event. He didn't even eat dinner that night because he was mingling around with me all night. I know that I could not have achieved what I have so far in my life if it wasn't for Chris. His passion for The SAMFund runs as deep as mine, and him & I will always hold a special place in our hearts for The SAMFund.
I really can't thank everyone enough for all that they have contributed. So, thank you again. I love you all. Because of your donations, we were able to blow our last fundraisers total amount raised out of the water. We raise.........
a bit over $17,000!
Simply. Amazing. Our grant cycle just opened up as well, and in the first 5 hours of it being open, we had 50 applications. 50! And there are still 5 more weeks to go... Thank you again, I cannot wait to see you all next year. I'd actually like to see you all earlier, so call me and we'll get lunch. Love you all.