Last month, we teamed up with a local charity, the Beat Tom and Bill Foundation, for an event right here at our Chicago MAC. Beat Tom and Bill, also known as BTB for short, is a local charity that holds special golf outings to raise money for cancer patients. The goal of participants is to beat the score of the charity’s co-founders, Tom and Bill. However, it’s not as simple as it sounds; golfers are heckled by wild distractions such as polka dancers, Elvis on stilts, or a band composed entirely of clowns. If you don’t quit from exasperation and manage to win, you get to keep the famous Tom and Bill Bobblehead. Guests range from amateur to professional players, and the goal of the event is to have a good time while raising money for cancer patients. Their ultimate desire is to ease the burden of treatment for as many families as possible.
Each year, BTB chooses 10-12 families facing cancer and provides financial assistance for their treatments and other expenses. Dealing with cancer is expensive in itself, but the other costs that insurance won’t pay for add up as well: travel expenses, deductibles, hospital parking and of course everyday living costs. Some of these families uproot their lives to be closer to better treatment facilities. BTB provides much needed financial relief for these families, many of which have suffered financial devastation due to their illness.
This event marked their first get together of the year, where the families become acquainted and share their stories. BTB asked Jokes4Miles to host, and we were happy to accept. These events provide an opportunity for the families to meet others walking the same path. We hosted eleven families, providing them a three-course meal as well as prizes and cancer-themed T-shirts. Our guests recorded jokes for our new website, jokes4miles.com, and they enjoyed getting to know the other families as well as the BTB board of directors.
The families mingled in the Schnacke lounge before moving to our theater space, Zoe’s Studio, where they graced the stage with their heart-wrenching and uplifting tales from the cancer ward. At this time, we aimed to provide a safe space for them to share their struggles and triumphs. We’ve heard countless cancer stories over the years, and nearly all of us at Jokes4Miles have been personally affected by cancer or a loved one facing cancer. Even so, we struggled back tears upon hearing each account, touched by the raw emotion and vulnerability displayed by these brave people.
After swapping stories, we enjoyed dinner prepared by our in-house chef, Chef MC. His assistants for the day included two volunteers, Anya and Renata, who only learned about Jokes4Miles two weeks prior but offered to help anyway. The three cooks prepared an array of entrees and sides spread across three tables, including pasta, Greek chicken, salad, three different kinds of potatoes, and more. One of our favorite dishes was the Korean bbq skewers! For dessert, they served cheesecake cupcakes topped with raspberries as well as cream-filled Polish pastries. Guests lined up for seconds and thirds, leaving approximately zero leftovers at the end of the night.
Jokes4Miles hosted a free raffle with over twenty prizes, and we also gave out toys and gifts to the children attending. After dinner, we wrapped up the night with the raffle drawing. Many happy folks took home some awesome prizes, as well as a new cancer-related T-shirt for their collection. However, we felt sad that some people were going home empty-handed, and we started giving out anything we could: T-shirts, DVDs, tech items and even a half empty spice bottle. We’ll do just about anything for a smile, and these folks have faced so much already that we delight in brightening their days as much as possible.
We’re grateful to BTB for this opportunity to serve the cancer community, and we can’t wait for the next event! To learn more about the amazing things BTB does for families facing cancer, visit their website. To learn more about Jokes4Miles and the services we provide for those facing cancer, read Our Story here.
See you at the next event, monkeys!