What do you get when you combine a perfect spectating spot on the UCI World Road Championship final race course, a brunch featuring a talented young chef from Charleston, South Carolina and a chance to introduce philanthropic types to the best-kept non-profit secret in RVA? A gracious event that came together with a few helping hands.
Sunday, September 27 proved a glorious day to be in RVA. Miraculously the rains dissipated for the spectators and riders in the Men’s Elite race. cWw and her husband DAW generously hosted a benefit brunch for ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation in their lovely Monument Avenue home on Lee Circle.
Our hostess had the brilliant idea to bring her son’s roommate, Chef Sean Rieflin
of 167 Raw in Charleston, to the event for authentic Lowcountry brunch fare. Then she recruited fellow ASK parent and florist extraordinaire aTs to do the flowers.
cWw tastefully carried out the cycling theme with a number of Greig Leach‘s prints adorning several spots in her home.
Our husbands cooked, bartended and chatted with guests. cWw borrowed the next door neighbors’ stunning garden for the outdoor bar
and seating, and the stage was set for a festive day of spectating.
During a break in the racing action, Amy Godkin, the Executive Director of ASK, welcomed the guests with a brief anecdote of just one of the many remarkable things that ASK does
to make life better for children with cancer
In the biking spirit, she compared ASK to a SAG (support and gear) wagon for a racing team. The vehicle accompanies the team with support and gear/grub for the duration of the race. So too does ASK ride alongside a young patient and family for the long treatment period, well after the initial onslaught of meals and help arrives from the patient’s surrounding community.
Throughout the event I was overcome with a sense of grace permeating the home. The hosts are two of the strongest parents I have ever encountered. You see, their story did not have a happy ending. Their daughter Caroline was diagnosed with leukemia when she was six years old. She endured treatment but relapsed and passed away at age ten.
During Caroline’s relapse I met cWw. As mBf and I were seated beside them in the treatment room, I knew Caroline had relapsed. Witnessing such a situation was painful beyond words: every parent’s nightmare of nightmares. For years I couldn’t speak to cWw; I would find a way to avoid her in a room because seeing her brought back so much pain. I simply wasn’t big enough. There but for the grace of God went I.
Because memories of ASK provide a painful reminder, many ASK parents find it difficult to go back and serve the organization that gave them such a tremendous helping hand during crisis and beyond. I am left wordless at the grace, strength and generosity the cWw and her husband possess.
Many thanks to them and to the guests who turned out to learn more about our best kept secret … no more!
p.s. Cheers to Heather Holub of Merrymaker Fine Paper of Richmond who assisted us with the invitation in short order.