A Taste of Oxford for St. Jude sets goal of $125,000 to run famed children’s hospital for 100 minutes
By Angela Rogalski, senior journalism major, Meek School of Journalism and New Media
What do you get when you combine some of the best tasting food in Oxford with one of the most deserving charities in the country –– St. Jude?
You get the 6th annual A Taste of Oxford, that’s what. And this year’s event, to be held Wednesday, Feb. 20 at The Library Bar & Grill, promises to be another great success.
Elizabeth Randall, President of Randall Commercial Group and a committee member for the event, said this year’s goal is even more ambitious than in 2012.
“Our goal this year is to have our event raise enough money to run St Jude for 100 minutes, which is $125, 000,” Randall said.
Randall said that while the figure may sound like an exorbitant amount of money, it really is not, considering the fact that no family ever pays St. Jude for anything, ever. “It takes $1.8 million per day to keep the hospital functioning, which is primarily covered by public contributions,” Randall said. “That’s equal to $75,000 per hour, or $1250 per minute.”
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® opened in 1962 and was founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas. Its on-going mission is to find cures for children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and from around the world, and is one of the few combined research and treatment hospitals in the world.
In 1962, the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer, was four percent. Today, the survival rate for this once deadly disease is 94 percent, thanks to research and treatment protocols developed at St. Jude.
Randall said the Oxford connection started with just a small group of people determined to make a difference.
“A Taste of Oxford began with a small committee of community members who wanted to do something to help, and has grown substantially into a great fundraiser for St. Jude,” Randall said.
This year’s event will be one your taste buds won’t likely forget. Food from Irie on the Square, My Michelle’s, Old Venice Pizza Co., Ravine, Two Stick Sushi, Woodson Ridge Farms, St. Jude Chef Miles McMath, and many more. The cost is $60 per ticket and pays for the entire night’s entertainment, which will include live music and both silent and live auctions.
“We have some very unique auction items and experiences both silent and live including: a trip to NYC to be on the trading floor with Peter Costa during live trading, which was closed to the public over ten years ago,” Randall said.
The auction will also include what Randall described as, a fabulous piece of jewelry donated and custom made for this event by the wonderful people at Lammon’s Jewelry, a full week fly fishing trip for two people to the famous Unalakleet River Lodge in Alaska, which includes all meals prepared by a chef, lodging, and fully guided fishing for the week. Sandra Day O’Conner was recently a guest at the lodge and Larry Csonka has filmed his outdoors television show there twice. And we have some very special artwork and many other interesting auction items.”
And speaking of Peter Costa, the contributor/market commentator from the floor for CNBC will be the event’s host and guest of honor.
“Peter has an amazing sense of humor and is going to be very, very entertaining as our host and guest of honor. He is going to have the place rolling,” Randall said.
Lisa Heros, senior event specialist for St. Jude, said events such as A Taste of Oxford are vital for the hospital.
“A Taste of Oxford raises significantly more funds for the amazing children at St. Jude every year,” Heros said. “And along with collegiate programs, high school programs, radio-thons, fitness programs, direct marketing, gift planning, corporate partners, and also grants, we have an amazing base of support.”
Randall said last year’s fundraiser was a watershed for the event.
“Last year was the most significant jump, from $58,000 the previous year, to almost $100,000 raised last year, which surpassed our then goal of running the hospital for 1 hour,” she said. “The event’s growth in attendance and fundraising has been very strong since its inception six years ago.”
Randall also attributes the hard work and resources that the planning committee puts in over many months as being important to the success of the event as well as the support, guidance and hard work by, Heros, who is an Ole Miss graduate.
Randall said she and others make every effort to keep costs for “A Taste of Oxford to a minimum to ensure that St. Jude reaps the benefits of those raised funds.
“We are very careful with our spending and budgeting, and run the event like a business – we literally get most everything donated, from the venue and support staff, to the food and alcohol, and of course all the amazing auction items and the sponsorships,” Randall said. “Last year over 90 percent went directly to St. Jude. One of the things that make us most proud of this event is the tremendous profit margin which is made possible by the unbelievable generosity of all the donors and attendees, and the hard work from every committee member. I love this event because it brings out the absolute best in every person involved.”
Randall said when they go asking people and businesses to support the event, not only is the answer usually “yes” but it is an enthusiastic “yes, what do you need” or “sure, we would love to help” because it is St. Jude and because they are asking people to support a proven and important institution, which has been working diligently and prudently to save children from catastrophic diseases for over 50 years.
If you would like to donate to A Taste of Oxford benefiting St. Jude, please call Lisa Heros at 901-373-5051 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or to make a general donation, you may donate at www.stjude.org or by calling 800-805-5856.