When Sarah was a patient at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, she loved the hospital so much that she used to schedule her St. Jude check-ups on her birthday.
“It was my favorite place on earth,” she told more than 700 guests at the 16th Annual St. Jude Gourmet Gala: Mardi Gras for the Kids in Washington, D.C., on February 25. “For a little kid to say this about a hospital speaks volumes to the kind of place St. Jude is.”
Sarah came to St. Jude as a child for treatment of a tumor that grows in the nerve tissue. Thanks to St. Jude, Sarah beat her cancer and went on to become a pediatric intensive care nurse. “It is undoubtedly St. Jude that led me to my career. St. Jude has always been a huge part of my life,” she said.
The St. Jude Gourmet Gala at the National Building Museum raised more than $558,000 for the kids of St. Jude. Richard Shadyac Jr., CEO of ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, served as emcee for the gala, which is the largest St. Jude event in the D.C. area.
Guests also heard from Dan, the father of St. Jude patient Alexis, who was honored at the gala with the Chris Burress Hero Award, named in memory of a St. Jude patient. Alexis is being treated at St. Jude for a brain tumor located near the pituitary gland. Now a happy 3-year-old, she has received surgery and proton therapy and visits St. Jude every three months for follow-up testing.
Sanju Bansal and Charlotte Pineda, on behalf of the Sanju K. Bansal Foundation, led the St. Jude Gourmet Gala this year as co-chairs of the committee. The Sanju K. Bansal Foundation is “dedicated to helping people through improved access to information,” said Bansal. “The success of this year’s event went beyond fundraising to community building, and we were honored to play a small part in supporting the excellent work at St. Jude.
In addition to the Sanju K. Bansal Foundation, major sponsors for this year's event included Everfresh Juice Co., Airbus Americas Inc., Bank of America, Liljenquist and Beckstead Jewelers, Trenton Technology and TTR Sotheby’s International.
Nearly 50 D.C. metro-area restaurants took part in the St. Jude gala, with the restaurants competing for the 2014 Taster’s Choice Award, which was won by The Source by Wolfgang Puck with Chef Steve Drewno. Chef Maziar Farivar of the Peacock Café served as the Chef Chair.
The event included live and silent auctions with one-of-a-kind items such as a walk-on role in the Washington Ballet's production of Septime Webre's The Nutcracker, a trip to the Turks and Caicos Islands, a guitar autographed by Taylor Swift and a $1,000 gift card from Neiman Marcus.