We would love to give you a glimpse into the night! Please watch the below video first and then read Erin's speech! You will need to set aside 30 minutes but by the end you will feel educated, inspired, empowered and humbled to be part of this amazing organization!
Welcome everyone to our first Annual Gold Tie Gala! Most of you know my husband and I created Griffin’s Guardians in honor of our son, Griffin who passed away to brain cancer at the age of 7. It only seems fitting to start the night off talking about the little boy who continues to inspire a community! During his battle with cancer he taught us what true courage is, he taught us to never give up, he taught us to keep smiling and most importantly he taught us the definition of complete, unconditional love. I will probably say this at every Gala from here on in.. But I will NEVER say he lost his battle to cancer but that he won.. he won the hearts of so many!
His presence here on earth was a gift to all of us and in his honor we will carry on his fight against Pediatric Cancer and we promise, Griffin, to NEVER, EVER Give up!
First I wanted to give A big thank to Tim Green for coming to be our guest speaker for our special night. Most of you already knew that Griffin won the contest and was a character in Tim’s book. But what you probably didn’t know is that when Tim learned Griffin had taken a turn and was placed on Hospice, he sent the bound manuscript for the book, Kid Owner, to our home. I was able to read the book to Griffin so he could hear his name and hear the story. A memory I have to cherish forever… In addition, through a very generous donation by Tim and his wife Illyssa, all of the proceeds from Kid Owner that is sold tonight- all goes back to Griffin’s Guardians….Thank you Tim, for you compassion and generosity!
A year ago I stood in this room and remember thinking how much love I was surrounded by at Griffin’s Celebration of Life. I thought I would never be surrounded by that much love again… until right now. I am still in awe that we sold out in the first day, in awe over the sponsors, and in awe over the very generous donations we received for raffle baskets! Thank you all for your unconditional support… and for not walking behind Adam and I but beside us on this journey.
With that said there are so many I have to thank for making tonight what it is.
To my husband and children.. thank you for putting up with my craziness.. Some of you might find it difficult to comprehend that I can get a little crazy, I might worry, I might get stressed.. and maybe the ones closest to me.. might just feel the wrath of it.. so thank you Adam, Grace and Everett for putting up with me that last few months.. But In all seriousness though-we are all in this together.. I gather my strength from my husband who literally has taught or has tried to teach me to “not sweat the small stuff” and for Grace and Ev- my determination comes from these two.. because I want so badly for you and for your future children to live in a world a free of Pediatric Cancer.
To my committee, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. People say it me all the time, “look what you have done with Griffin’s Guardians in such a short time”. I am quick to reply… “I have surrounded myself with amazing people… so to my committee who spent hours making tonight what is, for the sacrifices your families may have felt and to the late nights of putting the final touches on things. I thank you and I love you!
To Lakeshore Yacht and Country Club, thank you for not just being Adams employer but for embracing our family, supporting Griffin’s Guardians but importantly for becoming an extended family to us.
When it comes to our sponsors of the night, I just can’t name you and thank you because your business is more than just a name to me. .. you are all more than that.. Whether you started from the beginning of our journey, the middle of it or more recently there is a connection between each of you.
The Gem Diner isn’t just a restaurant, it became a place where our friends and family could be together when things got tough with Griffin.
Aspen Athletics Club wasn’t just another gym to Griffin, it was a place where Griffin could hang with his Sports Trainer, Mark and become the athlete again he was prior to cancer striking him.
Summerwood Pediatrics- wasn’t just my childrens’ pediatrician….. Griffin was Dr. Drackers patient but he became mine and Adam’s friend.. he took care of us, our whole family and Griffin.. And we got to see the big teddy bear that he really is!
And then there is Tom Pirro.. never did ever think I would become friends with the last person who carried my son out my front door for the very last time.. we are friends because Griffin wasn’t just another client he was so much more to Tom and his staff.
Then there is Edible Arrangements- who always flies under the radar but yet there commitment is evident in every event Griffin’s Guardians has done.
Wilkinson Finishing- who have been quiet supporters from the beginning, you learned of Griffin through your nephew, one of my dearest friends.. what was important to him became important to you… and you became one of the first businesses to become a sponsor.
Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists was also another quiet supporter. SOS didn’t hesitate to become a sponsor even though they knew they weren’t able to attend the gala. They made sure some of the bravest, strongest people I know could be here tonight. They gave their seats to the Drs, Nurses, and families that are on the front line of battling Pediatric Cancer..right here in CNY from our own Upstate Pediatric Oncology floor.
And then there is Gina from Bliss Bridal and Formal Wear- I walked into your life when I needed to get fancy for the Boeheim Basket Ball and it was an instant connection- your positivity and energy that you believe Griffin’s Guardians will do great things is contagious..
To Wegmans- I never thought that our local Syracuse weather was going to help us make our connection. I have to believe you were so moved by our organization at Wayne Mahars’ Tailgate party because you instantly wanted to be part of this night..
Last but not least, Todd Reutsch from Printing and Promotional Solutions … our Presenting Sponsor of the night…
~One day After dropping off a Griffin’s Guardians sign that Todd’s business had made, he stood in my kitchen as I was thanking him for all the support he has given us personally and through his business … I may have been long winded (surprising to some) but Todd’s reply was simple.. "Amy and I believe in you, and we believe in Griffin’s Guardians and helping children and because of that it’s easy to support anything you do”. I once again am reminded even though tragedy struck our family,…that there is so much good in this world, and Todd is just one example. So I thank you Todd! I always remind Adam of this.. “behind every good man is a great woman”.. So thank you to Todd’s wife, Amy for sharing so much of Todd with us and for being a huge reason why Griffin’s Guardians has been so successful.
With our first annual gold tie gala, comes the new tradition of the annual Honorary Guardian Award…
Giving, Caring, protecting, advocating, passionate.. these are some of the words that describe the spirit of the Honorary Guardian. The recipient of this award is an individual who is dedicated to making a difference in the world of pediatric cancer for families and children who have been affected by this life- changing disease. There are many people in our community who go to great lengths for these children and families by volunteering their time, donating their money or raising awareness. There is a person in this room today, that portrays all of these characteristics .. This person has shaved her head 3 times for St Baldrick's and on her 50th birthday, instead of receiving gifts for herself- she asked friends and family to donate to her St Baldrick's fund which resulted in her raising over $5,000. In March of this year, she became the Team Leader of the Team Griffin group for St Baldrick's and
lead her group to raise over $14,000.
The recipient of this award is Lisa Eddy. .. As a mother of 5 children, and grandmother to 2 she is leading by example- she truly give with all her heart .. and her passion you could see in the tonights' slide show when she said “Each child deserves to know there are people out there fighting for them to find a cure”
Lisa Eddy, we want to recognize your compassion, your dedication and your hope to end the world of Pediatric Cancer. We want to thank you for being a Griffin Guardian!
I have spent a lot of time thinking about how I was going to present the harsh reality of Childhood Cancer and what it does to the child, to the parents and to the family as a whole. I was going to tell you all the milestones that Adam and I as parents will miss out on with Griffin gone, or what Grace and Everett will lack for the rest of their lives because the glue that stuck them together is gone. But the sad reality is … you really can’t ever get a true understanding of that pain, heart ache of such a tremendous Loss. You can’t put yourselves in our shoes nor is it fair of me to ask you…
What I can do instead … is to inspire you, is to empower you, like with the song that ended the slide show, Is ask you to be Brave… Finding a cure for pediatric cancer is NOT going be easy, it isn’t going to happen tomorrow… We will continue to hear of another child being diagnosed with cancer, or another one passing away from it. But through Griffin’s Guardians if we keep up with the momentum we have now, in time we will hear less stories of cancer in children.
Griffin’s Guardians has already made a huge impact in our community and beyond. Keeping in mind we have only been in existence for 10 months, it hasn’t even been a YEAR!
We have been involved in several school aged programs in 7 different schools, whether it was through book drives, band aid collections, the Hands of Hope project or making Chemo care kits… we are getting the young involved.
We have worked with 3 different high school sports teams, raising awareness and funds bringing in close to $11,000 to Griffin’s Guardians.
We hosted our First Annual Kicking Cancer in the Nets soccer shoot out in June.. we had 250 participants in the tournament with another 250 in spectators.. again raising over 10,000 for Griffin’s guardians.
We helped local families right here in Central New York whether it was assisting with a copay for childs' medicine that it was imperative he have, helped another family make memories between siblings with the purchase of an Xbox or the assistance we gave to another family with house bills.
We involved all ages and genders with our Project pillowcase collecting over 300 pillowcases from all over the country.
Keeping in mind we have only been in existence for 10 months!
We are changing the way a child can view radiation, we are celebrating their bravery and strength by completing radiation and turning a scary mask into anything they want.
Until you watch a child go through radiation you have no idea how brave a child can truly be. Griffin was one of the youngest children to undergo radiation and not have to have anesthesia administered every day- which is a remarkable thing in itself! This boy who just turned 6 had this mask completely cover his face, and then it was strapped to a board so he could not move at all. If that isn’t scary enough he then was pushed into a narrow tube like machine and had to remain still for 10-15 minutes. This is a tough task for a grown adult let alone a 6 yr old active little boy. So when he finished his 33 daily treatments of radiation.. you bet it was a celebration. It was important to celebrate that look how far we have come feeling and we have been able to celebrate with two families so far.
We are involving people of all ages but most importantly the children are getting involved.. they want change… Most of griffin’s friends, it is a given that will support and do what they can for Griffin’s Guardians.. It’s their way to honor him, and their way to carry out his legacy so no one else has to go through this.. Then there are the children who never met Griffin but have heard stories of his life through mutual friends, through their teachers, through their parents.. And want to fight right along with us.. Its simply beautiful to see..
Again we have only been in existence for 10 months..
Then in April an amazing opportunity presented itself. We were approached by St Baldrick’s Foundation to partner with them. St Baldrick’s Foundation is the world’s largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants. With help from Organizations like Griffin’s Guardians they are able to influence government regulations, recently resulting in the first new drug to be approved for pediatric cancer in more than 20 years.. you heard that correctly… first new drug for pediatric cancer developed in more than TWENTY YEARS! Doesn’t seem right, does it.
Through our partnership we have presented a check to St Baldrick’s in the amount of $25,000 to partially fund a pediatric cancer research grant that Adam and I chose. We were able to review over 30 research grants and chose one that we felt close to our heart. The Drs hope in the grant we chose is to empower the immune system to fight brain tumors by delivering agents that alter the immune system activities. This approach could lead to safe effective therapies for children with brain cancer. Did you know, as parents, Adam and I had to worry about the chemotherapy and radiation therapies we chose to save Griffin’s life.. could have then caused him develop another form of cancer? We need to research safe effective therapies for these children.
Again we have only been in existence for 10 months…
Lastly, since our inception on Dec 4, 2014 I am so proud and honored to tell you that Griffin’s Guardians has already raised over $80,000 and that does not even include tonights’ festivities.!
It has only been 10 months.
All of this wouldn’t have been possible it weren’t for the support that is in this room right now... But we need to continue with the momentum we are on..
Did you know worldwide every 3 minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer? We need to continue to raise awareness.
Did you know Approximately 1 in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer.. We need to continue to fund pediatric cancer research
Did you know The average age of diagnosis for childhood cancer is age 6. The average number of years lost is 67. We need to support these families who are hearing the devastating words, “your child has cancer”
As you can see, we are still have a lot of work to do….
I will end with a story…
Just a boy with a slingshot…
Most of us have heard the biblical story of David and Goliath. After many of the soldiers ran away in fear, David, who was just a boy, volunteered himself to defeat an entire army and a giant named Goliath to save the future of his people from destruction. With no fear, no armor and only 5 stones in his pouch, David looked Goliath in the eye, wound up his slingshot and with one stone defeated the giant.
As a mom hearing that my son had cancer, I immediately knew that Griffin faced a colossal Goliath in his body. Cancer is an insidious disease, approaching ever so quietly, growing relentlessly and incessantly, sneaking away from home base to other parts of our body, building a resistance to drugs that would slay it and possibly return after we thought we had rid ourselves of it forever. We asked Griffin to fight the biggest battle of his life when his cancer returned but there were few options…he fought with no armor.
Throughout his battle, I learned that my little boy, like David, was stronger than most adults. Although most of our reactions to hearing the word cancer is fear and helplessness, it was Griffin’s zest for life and deep faith that created a barrier to all of it. His “Never Give Up” attitude was going to carry me through his 14-month battle. Through our eyes cancer is too big to beat, but through Griffin’s eyes and so many of the brave soldiers who fight it everyday, this Giant Goliath is too big to miss.
These children are OUR FUTURE! Not just the future of our local community but our Nation as a whole. I believe as a Nation we have let these children down. Did you know that only 4% of the national budget for cancer goes to Pediatric Cancer Research? We need to bring change for these children and their families. Be that change, we can do it through this organization. If we take our cues for courage and determination from Griffin and the other brave little heroes battling cancer there is no way we won’t make a difference.
For the next 5 years, each woman who attends the Gala will be given a stone charm (like the 5 stones David had to defeat Goliath) – we are calling them 5tones for Brave Little Heroes. Each year the stone will have a different meaning. This year the first stone represents: COURAGE. Griffin was not afraid to face cancer. It takes courage to fight the giants in our life especially Pediatric Cancer. I believe through Griffin's Guardians we will make a difference. As mothers, fathers, grandparents and friends we ask that you stand up for the children.... stand up for their right to live long healthy lives. To slay pediatric cancer like David slew Goliath, we need to make the commitment to do everything in our power to fight the disease. We are full of doubts and fears. That is only natural. Gather up your strength and intelligence, make that commitment, and we can win the battle. We ask you to face pediatric cancer with your stone- cast it hard and well and make a difference so we can defeat this giant Goliath.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ~Mother Teresa