Just to give you some background, since 1996, Family Reach has been helping families with a child or parent afflicted with cancer deal with the overwhelming financial and emotional burdens of the disease. As families try to cope with years of cancer treatment, out-of-pocket medical expenses and everyday living costs, they often reach critical breaking points. Not only do they risk losing their homes, stability, and hope, but also their ability to ensure their loved ones receive the vital care they need to survive. Through an effective process developed through years of close collaboration with hospital social workers, Family Reach provides urgent assistance to families in a timely, compassionate fashion. Family Reach is a lifeline for families fighting cancer nationwide. We like to think of them as miracle workers (but know they wouldn't call themselves that). Without organizations like Family Reach, so many families would be struggling, so it is important to support their initiatives like Cooking Live!
Cooking Live! brings together the nation’s top celebrity chefs (including Michael Mina, Ken Tominaga, Tiffany Faison, Frank Kassner and Deanne Steffen Chinn) for an evening of wining and dining with Boston’s finest. Guests watch up close as chefs give live cooking demos before serving a five-course meal. Each dish is inspired by our special guests of the evening: the families battling cancer that Family Reach has supported. Hearing the stories of how Family Reach supported each of the special guests in some way made the night even more impactful.
Family Reach was established as a joint effort of the families of Christopher Colangelo and Kristine Morello-Wiatrak. In 1981, 11-year-old Christopher lost his battle with neuroblastoma. Kristine passed away in 1995 at 27 years old after fighting Ewing’s sarcoma, a pediatric type of cancer. The Colangelo and Morello-Wiatrak families were astounded by the expenses associated with treatment that compounded during the challenge of helping their loved one—transportation, special nutrition needs, day care, etc. Motivated by their personal experiences, both families independently sought to help others with the financial and emotional burdens of pediatric cancers.
In 1996, the families of Christopher and Kristine decided to combine forces. For 7 years, they provided support to families at Memorial Sloan-Kettering and Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York through grassroots efforts and fundraising. In 2003, the founders launched Family Reach as a formal 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Since that time, Family Reach has generated almost $7 million in gross contributions through annual events, special programs, individual donations, and corporate partners. Thousands of families fighting cancer have benefited from grants to help pay for critical nonmedical and medical expenses. Family Reach now serves the needs of families through several prominent hospitals across the country, including Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco.
It's beautiful to see that this joint effort continues today. Family Reach is leading the way in how the United States addresses the financial crisis often brought on by a cancer diagnosis. They are the only national non-profit organization exclusively focused on providing financial assistance for families fighting cancer. With recent studies clearly showing how financial barriers directly impact on a cancer patient's chance of survival, Family Reach is becoming recognized as a critical part of a patient's treatment. Family Reach is changing the way national industry leaders look at the financial barriers facing cancer patients and their role in helping alleviate the burden for families across the country. They are grateful for their partnership and putting on Cooking Live! as it has become the perfect recipe for success in raising funds to support these unbelievably strong families.
And to give a brief recap of the chefs and the menu from Cooking Live! at the Boston Ritz-Carlton on Tuesday, May 3rd--here are some pictures of the program book:
Family Reach also shared the stories of the special guests the night was inspired by:
Take time to learn more about Family Reach and Cooking Live! and consider donating to this wonderful charity. Don't be surprised if you see us in attendance next year. I would love to devour the details of this amazing event!