The annual Bryan County Sisters on a Journey event was held Saturday to benefit Catie’s Fund of CURE Childhood Cancer. This special dinner featured uniquely themed table decorations, auctions, live music and a poignant program about children battling cancer.
There were 500 guests and nearly 100 volunteers who attended the event at Bryan County Elementary School. Some auction items featured were a yacht cruise, gift baskets, furniture, and home decor.
The first named fund of CURE Childhood Cancer started in 2009 in memory of Tre and Jenny Wilkins' daughter Catie, who on her first birthday, was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, a rare and aggressive brain tumor.
“We lost Catie to cancer back in 2007," Jenny Wilkins said. "We were very unhappy when we learned how much childhood cancer is underfunded when it comes to research. My daughter actually received the same treatment that my husband’s cousin received nearly 15 years before.”
After Catie’s passing, Tre and Jenny decided to do something to try to help improve treatment by setting up Catie’s Fund through CURE Childhood Cancer. “It was hard when she was gone. There aren’t words for that, but we have two healthy children under our roof now and I didn’t want to look at their kids one day and say, we didn’t do anything to make it better.'' I wanted to be able to tell our grandkids that, ‘Kids might still get cancer, but the treatments are better.’ ”
Daughter Stephanie Wilkins added, “Me and my sister Alishia hosted a table tonight because we each have three children of our own and they are healthy and we pray that we never have to experience things that other moms have had to experience and we just want to raise awareness.”
CURE Childhood Cancer was founded in 1975 by Emory University pediatric oncologist, Dr. Abdel Ragab, who was Atlanta’s only pediatric oncologist at that time. He created the foundation because he needed support to build a pediatric oncology research program.
Today, CURE Childhood Cancer has a precision medicine initiative that focuses on bringing individualized therapies to children for a safe and effective cure for all children diagnosed.
“We stick with CURE because they fund purely pediatric research and we want to see a change in the treatments," Jenny Wilkins said. "Tonight’s dinner is to fund the precision medicine program that changes the way children with cancer are being treated, by looking at their genetic makeup and then treated the tumor based on genetics."
After having different fundraisers, the idea of soliciting women as table hostesses who would invite friends, decorate their tables and have a great time came up. That idea turned into Sisters on a Journey.
Today, thousands of people attend Sisters on a Journey dinners and to date, Catie’s Fund has raised over a million dollars which is invested into CURE Childhood Cancer's Precision Medicine Program.
Mallory Traywick, who attended the event, said, “I myself have a cancerous brain tumor and it’s just a good thing to be a part of. I know that they do a big donation towards childhood cancer overall which is meaningful to me considering I was a child when I was diagnosed with cancer, so it really means a lot.”
Another attendee, Alishia Sanks, added, “I love that this small community can raise so much money for a very awesome charity. You definitely need to come experience this. I told my sister and my mom that this is a one in a lifetime thing, they need to come experience."
Sponsors for the event were: Badger Rental Services, Villi Precision Collision Center, CUB Enterprises, Pope Construction Company, ACW Logistics, Zumba Queens, Barfield Enterprises, Industrial Technical Coatings, Sikes Farms, DK & D, Burnsed Body Shop, Blue Shack Bakery, Badger rental Services, Kaufman-Heinz, Southern Belle Wedding, Event Rentals, Bryan County Schools, Piggly Wiggly, Sandra’s Seafood, Paul Otto, Derst Bakery, Ellabelle Boutique, Playing for Parker, Indoor Climate, Spanky's in Pooler, Higgins Place and Johnny’s Grill.
Information about Sisters on a Journey in Bryan County can be found on the Sisters on a Journey-Bryan Facebook page.
More information about Cure Childhood Cancer can be found at www.curechildhoodcancer.org/
Photos by Hollie Lewis.