This story was originally published on June 2015 and has been updated.
My name is Anna-Maria Beck, and I was the honoree of the 2014 Bourbon & Bowties fundraiser. I loved it! I was not only involved in the main event but also in the planning that led up to it. I loved being able to give my opinion so that everything went perfectly. Some examples were the pink tablecloths, the cupcakes and the Shirley Temples. I’m a very girly girl if you can’t already tell.
The bow tie designed for the event was just how I wanted it to be. It was pink (of course) with gorillas carrying bananas. We also sold it in royal blue and turquoise. The story behind the gorillas is very special to me. I had a red stuffed gorilla from the time that I was 2. My dad loved stuffed animals as a kid so he made sure that I, and my three other siblings, had a lot of them too. For some reason though, this gorilla just stuck with me. I slept with it every single night until the time that I was 10.
When I got diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2007, I took the gorilla everywhere with me — whether it was a doctor’s appointment, an MRI, chemotherapy or even surgery. Where I went, Gorilla went. Then a tragic incident happened to this beloved friend of mine when I was in Boston getting treatment. Long story short: I went into surgery with Gorilla, but I did not come out with him. We are still not sure what exactly happened. We did everything to look for him. We asked the doctors and nurses, we talked to the cleaning crew, and my mom even found the phone number for the people that do the laundry there. Unfortunately, Gorilla was gone for good. Don’t worry though, I promise this story has a happy ending.
Back home, I was at one of my chemotherapy clinics when something truly magical happened. One of my nurses, Shawn, came toward me with a sly grin on her face and her hands behind her back. She pulled her hands out from behind her back, and there it was — an exact replica of my precious Gorilla, just smaller! It was unbelievable. I decided that the name “Junior” fit this little guy perfectly. That’s just one of the many miracles my nurses and doctors at Norton Children’s Hospital have made happen for me!
One person that I truly admired on the Bourbon & Bowties planning committee was Lenny Gant. He and his wife, Kelly, started this event after their son, Charles, suddenly died in 2009. They are both kind and generous people. I am just amazed that he and Kelly took such a sad, tragic event in their life and turned right around and created this very special event that raises tons of money for the patients like me at Norton Children’s Hospital.
The food at Bourbon & Bowties was incredible! My favorite was the cupcakes made by Desserts by Helen. I got to go to the bakery to plan the cupcake. Then I got to go on the news and talk about my special cupcakes and bow ties. I even got to decide what the cupcake was made of! It was a yellow cake with amaretto/almond infused icing. My mom puts amaretto in our Christmas sugar cookie icing and it’s delicious, so that flavor in the cupcakes was awesome. Then on the inside of the cupcake there was a cherry-flavored filling. That is based on the fact that I love Shirley Temples (the drink) and Shirley Temple (the person) with her great personality and head of curls! To top the cupcake off, a cinnamon sugar cookie was crumbled right on top.
My favorite part of Bourbon & Bowties was seeing the whole event be so successful.
After planning it for so long, it was nice seeing it all come together. The day was truly magical, the weather was perfect and we all stood on stage and encouraged the attendees to donate to the cause. Everyone was so generous. People who didn’t really plan on making big donations were writing checks. Even the chefs who had already donated so much time and hard work and great food were kicking in money as well. I couldn’t believe it! It was absolutely incredible and a night I will never forget.
I know all the generous donations will go a long way to help kids like me at Norton Children’s Hospital, and I am so grateful for everyone’s generosity as well as the wonderful opportunity to be the honoree of Bourbon & Bowties 2014.
Update on Anna-Maria: September 2016
Hi, it’s Anna-Maria Beck! I am currently a senior at Sacred Heart Academy. Finally being a senior is awesome! We just got our “Class of 2017” senior sweatshirts and we are thrilled to finally take over the first floor! I’m excited to work on the school newspaper and Sacred Heart news channel.
I am busy with so many activities, both inside and outside of Sacred Heart. My big project this year is the Valkyrie Beat Club. I am so excited to start the first dance marathon at my high school. This dance marathon will benefit my chemo clinic and pediatric cancer research. We have had a HUGE turn out so far! I am also very involved in Bourbon & Bowties, and I’m on the Youth Advisory Council at the children’s hospital.
At my parish I love my youth group and I coach a fantastic group of fifth and sixth-grade cheerleaders (my cheer babies)! So far senior year has been off to a fantastic start!