Benefit helps ensure 'Big Dreams' become real

David Leisure, his daughter and the reigning Miss America at the Big Dreams Start Small dinner

David Leisure and his 13-year-old daughter with Miss America
Deirdre Downs at the seventh annual Big Dreams Start Small gala.
Photo courtesy of Tracey Aiguier Photography.

Big dreams do start small. Nothing is greater proof of that than St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

From its beginning as a vow from the lips of struggling entertainer Danny Thomas as he sought a sign from the patron saint of hopeless causes, St. Jude Thaddeus, to its role today as a leader in the research and treatment of catastrophic childhood diseases, St. Jude has continuously grown and in the process rewritten medical textbooks on childhood leukemia.

On April 2, Bostonians got a chance to show their support for the hospital's cause at the appropriately titled Big Dreams Start Small gala which was held at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.

Actor/comedian David Leisure, known for his lead role on the television show Empty Nest and as Joe Isuzu in a string of commercials, made a special appearance at the seventh annual fund-raising event that featured a silent and live auction, dinner and a fashion show as well as a special appearance by Miss America 2005 Deirdre Downs.

Chaired by South End native and fashion designer Denise Hajjar, the Big Dreams Start Small event plays a vital role in allowing St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to continue its life-saving work. The funds raised from this year's event will mark more than $1 million raised since the gala began in 1999.

"St. Jude is in the process of an expansion program to bolster the hospital's research/treatment efforts which will more than double the size of the original St. Jude campus, and I am honored to assist in raising funds for these programs," Hajjar said. "I created Big Dreams Start Small to help sick children pursue their hopes and dreams in life."

Intoccia Companies, which includes: Intoccia Construction, Intoccia Properties, Intoccia Real Estate, Funway Café, Funway USA, Christina's Function Facility, F1 outdoor and Avalon Air, served as the presenting sponsor of the event.

"Intoccia Companies is thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in Big Dreams," said Michael Intoccia, president and CEO of Intoccia Companies. "It's an important event for a critical cause. As a business leader in this community, I believe it's my obligation to be a good corporate citizen and do what I can.  I hope to be able to help this event continue to develop and grow over time."

At the event, Intoccia made a surprise announcement that his company would build a St. Jude Dream Home in the Boston area, which would be the first Dream Home in Massachusetts.

A special thank you goes to all our sponsors, including: Triumvirate, Hannoush Jewelers, Paramount Partners, Dunkin' Donuts, Collaborative Consulting, Randolph Savings Bank, Astrid and John Hajjar, Dr. Ron Plotka, Lorraine Jacobs, Evelynne Hajjar, and Anthoney and Laney Nader.

"The Boston community has been a tremendous support of St. Jude over the years," said David L. McKee, chief operating officer of ALSAC, the hospital's fund-raising arm. "The patients of St. Jude are fortunate to have so many friends and supporters. It is because of all of them that every child who comes to the hospital has a chance at life."


April 2005

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