The Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer’s signature event, the 11th Annual Celebration of Life and Hope, will be held on Saturday night at Stratton Hall in downtown Chattanooga, coinciding with an expansion of the foundation’s programs and services provided to young cancer patients and their families.
And in this case, the word expansion can be taken quite literally. The foundation will soon move its headquarters – including the state-of-the-art Education Advancement Center – into a new downtown facility at 1601 S. Holtzclaw Ave., not far from the current headquarters at 232 E. 11th St. The foundation’s new home is approximately 30,000 square feet compared to the current approximate 6,000-foot space.
“This center represents a commitment to our community of $10 million over the next five years,” said Austin Hatcher Foundation President Amy Jo Osborn. “The diagnosis of cancer has an immediate and potentially life-altering impact on the psychological, social, and emotional health of the entire family system. Children who complete treatment for cancer are at risk of both medical and psychosocial late-effects as survivors. Continued monitoring of their health is essential, and that is what we do at the Austin Hatcher Foundation.”
Among those services provided at the EAC will be an increased focus on art therapies. That focus will be evident at the Celebration of Life and Hope, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday with a VIP reception, with doors opening for all attendees at 7 p.m.
Artist Liz Lindstrom of Chattanooga will produce a live painting that will be part of the event’s fundraising auction and educate attendees on the importance of art therapy. In addition, artwork done by children involved in the foundation’s programs will be on display.
“We are going to celebrate all things art and proudly show off the children’s art, of course,” said Ms. Osborn. “We also want to get the word out regarding the various forms of art therapy we will be providing such as woodworking, metal fabrication, and pottery which will all have occupational therapy components.”
This year’s Celebration of Life and Hope is co-chaired hosted by the event’s co-chairs, Dr. Christopher LeSar and his wife Tracie. The LeSars are active in a variety of philanthropic efforts in the Chattanooga area. In addition to the Austin Hatcher Foundation, they have donated their time and efforts to the American Cancer Society, the Chattanooga Kidney Foundation and Catholic Charities of Chattanooga.
As the foundation celebrates “all things art” at this event, five local restaurants will bring their culinary arts to guests. Chili Pepper Ranch, Easy Bistro, Hennen’s, Main Street Meats and State of Confusion will present a sampling of their signature dishes. Specialty cocktails will be designed by the mixologists at Matilda Midnight using locally produced spirits from Gate 11 and Chattanooga Whiskey.
Returning to serve as the event’s master of ceremonies and auctioneer is Chattanooga’s Victoria Meek Underwood, resident auctioneer at Meek’s Antique Auctions. A native of the United Kingdom, she honed her craft at the Nashville Auction School.
The Celebration of Life and Hope annually highlights the Austin Hatcher Foundation’s efforts to fight pediatric cancer both in the Chattanooga area and throughout the United States. Since its inception in 2006, the foundation has provided services to more than 72,000 individuals across 23 states, in 42 children’s hospitals.
“As always, however, everything we achieve or try to achieve is rooted here at home, in Chattanooga,” said Ms. Osborn. “The commitment we have to this area is personified by the Celebration of Life and Hope. The support and love from our local community that envelops us at this event is hard to describe. It is what has sustained us all these years. It’s our foundation – now and forever.”
That support is evident again for this year’s Celebration of Life and Hope, starting with Textile Rubber and Chemical serving as Presenting Sponsor and the Vascular Institute of Chattanooga as VIP Sponsor. Media partners include Brewer Media, CitiScope Magazine, HealthScope Magazine, Entercom, Plainview and EPB Fiber Optics.
In addition, serving as Platinum Sponsors are the GuideOn Group and the Hamico Foundation; the list of Champagne Sponsors includes the First Tennessee Foundation, Cigna, Mountain View Auto Group, EPB Fiber Optics, TrueBlue, SimCraft and the Comprehensive Spine Institute.
“Sincere and heartfelt thanks go out to these entities that are vital supporters ... and cherished friends,” said Ms. Osborn. “Thanks to them and many others, our mission to erase the effects of pediatric cancer continues, undaunted.”