2011 Taste Events

2nd Annual SPOHNC Taste Event a Delectable Delight

The second annual SPOHNC Taste Event became a nationwide “happening” this year as chapters from across the country brought together survivors, families, caregivers and friends to promote awareness of oral, head and neck cancer, while enjoying the pleasures of dining together and sharing stories of inspiration as well. Chapters participating in events this year included Long Island, NY, Chicago, Boston, Kansas City, Rochester, Seattle, Des Moines, Danvers & Nashville among others.

LI, NY Chapters 2nd Annual Taste Event Raises Over $20,000 to Support SPOHNC!

This year’s Long Island Chapters Taste Event, held on April 13, 2011 was the result of the hard work and collaboration of the three local SPOHNC groups: New Hyde Park, Stony Brook & Syosset, New York. Once again the event exceeded the committee’s expectations. Last year, the first annual event played host to approximately 120 guests, and 20 participating restaurants and bakeries. The 2011 Taste Event welcomed over 200 attendees, and over 40 restaurants and bakeries.Wow! The Stuart Thomas Manor, a beautiful catering hall chosen by the committee was the perfect location for the evening. The food, the entertainment, raffle prizes, and the survivors and their families and friends all came together wonderfully. Kudos to the organizing committee and all of the volunteers and contributors...a super job!

Diane O’Doherty, Account Executive at LI Radio Group’s 98.3 WKJY (KJOY) Radio donated her time and talent for the event, serving as the program emcee. She has become a true friend of SPOHNC and brought something special and heartfelt to the evening’s festivities. Dr. David Schwartz, Vice Chair, Department of Radiation Medicine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, spoke to the large crowd in attendance, delivering remarks that were truly thought provoking and inspiring at the same time. Assemblyman Joseph Saladino also joined us for part of the evening to show his support of SPOHNC.

This year’s event was dedicated to David Henderson, a beloved Syosset Chapter member who lost his battle in December. He was an inspiration to all who knew him. Event organizers were privileged to have a table of his co-workers from Nikon in attendance to support the event, and his best friend and co-worker Chris Brandmaier gave the crowd wonderful insight into David’s amazing life and determination.

At the event, guests were invited to look over a fabulous selection of over 100 raffle prizes donated by area businesses, restaurants, and entrepreneurs. A 50/50 raffle rounded out the fundraising portion of the evening. The Electric Dudes, a popular LI band with a following that includes several Syosset group members, generously donated their voices and talent, providing great entertainment throughout the evening. Guests dined on delicious entrees, including everything from pasta, soup, chicken and beef dishes, to a delectable selection of desserts including cupcakes and chocolate mousse as well as yummy cakes, pies and tarts.

Stories of inspiration were shared during the program, as the evening became a true celebration of life. The LI Chapters Taste Event opened the eyes of many to the challenges of oral, head and neck cancer, while bringing together members and surrounding them with loving supportive family and friends.

The LI Chapters Taste Event was a tremendous success. Its efforts were spearheaded by a small group of extremely dedicated survivors who were ready and willing to give it their all, in order to put together an amazing event.

Kansas City, KS – “Culinary Creations From Soup to Dessert”

The second Annual Tasting Event, called “Culinary Creations From Soup to Dessert”, was certainly much easier the 2nd time around! The event organizers were excited about the enthusiasm of their support group, who made the evening a huge success. Restaurants from last year’s event were ready and anxious to be a part of this year’s. Word must have spread fast about the great success of 2010!!

Once again, Kansas City oncology physician, Dr. Prakash Neupane, spoke at the event, as well as head and neck cancer survivor, Brent Bowman. Brent is a music teacher in one of the local school districts. The impact of his head and neck cancer required him to find a new way to teach. His thoughts were insightful. 

The keynote speaker was former Green Bay Packer and Kansas City Chief Paul Coffman – he is also a recent survivor of head and neck cancer. Paul compared facing cancer to an athlete facing a challenge. During the evening, he also graciously took photos with some of the young people who attended. 

The University of Kansas Cancer Center again provided the venue free of charge. A good number of staff attended and the community response was overwhelming, with attendance of over 250. As a new event feature this year, Connor Bowman (the accomplished son of Brent Bowman) entertained the guests with an impromptu saxophone and flute performance. Local oncology organizations participated as well, providing information and literature, and remaining on hand to answer questions and provide education about community resources for cancer patients and their loved ones. All in all it was a great event with much encouragement to do it again in 2012!

Nashville, TN – “Potluck Delights”

The Nashville SPOHNC Chapter was just developed in February 2011. Being such a new group, the decision was made to keep things simple – at least for the first year. We held a “Potluck Taste Event”, where group members generously donated their own delicious dishes, and a few local vendors (Ben and Jerry’s and Maggie Moo’s) donated some much loved ice cream. Many of the group members have swallowing difficulties, so juicers and smoothie machines were the highlight of the evening! Carmin Bartow, speech pathologist, and facilitator of the Nashville SPOHNC Chapter stated “I was a bit reluctant to jump into the Tasting Event since we were such a new group, but I’m so very glad that we participated in our own simple way. The event allowed for such a relaxed atmosphere and wonderful conversation. It stimulated discussion about eating and swallowing difficulties and allowed group members to offer support and share their stories and experiences about this important quality of life issue. Everyone enjoyed the delicious dishes, ice cream, smoothies, and juice but more importantly we enjoyed each other’s company and the opportunity to make new friends.    Overall the Nashville event was wonderful, and the group already has plans to make our “Potluck” bigger and better in 2012.”

Rochester, NY - “Spring Fling Tasting Expo”

In anticipation of Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week, the University of Rochester Medical Center, James P. Wilmot Cancer Center hosted the “2nd Annual Spring Fling Tasting Expo” for the members of SPOHNC-Rochester group, and their families and friends. The evening commenced with remarks by Dr. Yuhchyau Chen, Interim Director of Radiation Oncology, and Mr. Richard Bell, a survivor and recipient of the Cancer Center’s Inspiration Award.

Several area chefs participated, providing delectable samples of Crab Salad, Italian Wedding Soup, Vegetarian Black Bean Soup, Chicken French, Tuna Noodle Casserole, Macaroni & Cheese, Vegetable Quiche, Cheesecake, Cream Puffs, Ice Cream Cake & Rice Pudding. Samples of MonaVie and Strawberry Smoothies were also available as part of the evening’s offerings. The event concluded with a lively raffle of prizes donated by local businesses and gift certificates donated by the restaurants that participated.

Attendee Anne Lambert said “What a lovely evening! It was very heartwarming to see so many people enjoying and being served deliciously prepared and visually attractive food that allowed for enhanced quality and enjoyment of life as they heal and as we honored those continuing to heal. The special attention and detail that went into creating this tremendous event was validated by the number of attendees and the joy that filled the room.”

“We are grateful to the University and the Rochester community that embraces this event and contributes so generously to its success,” commented Darlene Harmor, MS, NP, RN & Sandra Sabatka, LMSW group co-facilitators.

Des Moines, Iowa – “Rediscovering the Joy in Eating: A Tasting and Learning Event”

Guests were treated to an event entitled “Rediscovering the Joy in Eating: A Tasting and Learning Event”. The program began with guests enjoying delicious dishes donated by many of their own amazing local chefs. Guests were invited to vote for their “Fan Favorite” after tasting these delectable entrees. A special feature of the evening was a cooking demonstration by Iowa Methodist Chef David Jensen. Guests at the event were also able to participate in free oral screenings, and visit with vendors and interactive displays.

The Hot Club of Des Moines, who kept things light with their unique sounds, provided entertainment. As a very special component of the evening, the AVEDA Institute Des Moines offered free chair massages – how relaxing! The program included an acknowledgement of survivors & co-survivors, as well as heartwarming stories, shared by attendees Dr. Jay Rosenberger, Andrea Price & Susan Kobliska.

Dessert was served, and the “Fan Favorite” dish was announced. Lots of fabulous, donated door prizes made the night complete. A wonderful time was had by all in attendance, who left wondering how next year’s event could top this one.

Chicago, Illinois – “A Taste of Chicago”

This year was Chicago’s second annual Tasting Event, which was as successful as the year before. Collaborating with three support groups from North Shore, University of Chicago, and Loyola hospitals, the SPOHNC Chicago group’s event brought people together from all over the region. In fact - there was even an attendee from the Cleveland, Ohio chapter. Jeff Husney flew in just to see what it was all about. Jeff plans to spearhead the efforts of his group for their own inaugural Taste Event next year.

A special component this year, was an art exhibit from our friends at Lilly Oncology. In addition, 13 restaurants donated their unique dishes while also addressing the nutritional needs of oral, head, and neck cancer patients. A large selection of raffle prizes, including books, gift cards and other goodies completed the event, with something to please everyone. In attendance were local physicians, Dr. Brockstein and Dr. Charous, as well as Jade Distajo RN, Head and Neck RN Navigator, and social worker Stephanie Horgan LSW. This year’s event played host to roughly 50 guests who enjoyed all there was to offer. There werefriendships new and old.

After last year’s event, patients could not wait to see what 2011 had in store for them. There were dwere dozens of returning guests, but plenty of new faces as well. The evening was such a unique opportunity to connect people to those who understand the side effects associated with oral, head, and neck cancer. It was also a great opportunity to bring together those with head and neck cancer to raise awareness of the disease and also to smile, laugh and have a good time. We’re already looking forward to next year!

Danvers, MA – “3rd Time’s A Charm”

The MGH North Shore Cancer Center held its third annual Taste Event on April 12th in the Center’s spacious lobby which was decorated with balloons and floral arrangements by Flowers by Darlene. The event was attended by 60 patients and spouses as well as many Cancer Center staff. Dr. Dan Soto addressed the gathering, congratulating patients on getting through the challenges of treatment and for committing themselves to their recovery.

Chefs from Ken Rothwell’s Catering and the Natural Grocer of Newburyport joined local chefs from Capone’s, Epicurean Feast, The Grapevine, Henry’s of Beverly, Kelly’s, Petrillo’s and Woodman’s in creating a wonderful buffet. Attendees feasted on New England clam chowder, Japanese noodles, and garlic chicken among other regional and ethnic dishes. Spinelli’s Bakery and Treadwell’s Ice Cream provided delicious desserts to complete the meal.

Raffle prizes included Red Sox tickets as well as gift certificates to the Ritz Carlton and the Liberty Hotel. Once again, Waring donated two of their finest blenders to the raffle, a gift that proves so valuable to our patients. Donations from Bed Bath and Beyond, Carraba’s Italian Grill, Foreign Wheels of Salem, Images of the North Shore, Market Basket, Shear Radiance, Sunshine Daydream, Unique Gift Baskets of Salem and Walton Woodworks made for many happy raffle prize winners.
As in years past, The Taste Event proved to be the highlight of SPOHNC North on the Boston calendar.

Editors Note:
The Taste Event was created to promote awareness of oral, head and neck cancer and the many debilitating challenges that can come with treatment. We hope that these stories will serve as an inspiration to other chapters across the country to put together their own events to promote awareness, while fostering camaraderie, sharing a meal and making new friends, as well.

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