Chairman’s Speech at St. Jude Wine and Chocolate with Tony Bennett and Kristin Davis

I would like to thank everyone for coming tonight to support this great cause. Many people have come from very distant places to be here, including Brazil. In fact, I convinced many of my friends and loved ones to fly in by telling them that this is probably the closest thing I would get to getting married, so they had to come.

Every so often, something touches our hearts that changes our lives forever. About a year ago, I met a 10 year old boy at a St. Jude event, Daniel, and he told me about his battle with cancer. He was about the same age as my two beautiful nephews.

He told me his story about how one day he was feeling a bit unusual after playing outside. They decided to take him to the local hospital just in case and the hospital had initially determined there was probably nothing wrong. As he was telling this story, he was as upbeat as can be as if he was talking about eating ice cream.

He continued his story. He told me that a couple days later they called him back to his local hospital. They informed him he had a very rare form of cancer. They told him he had the choice to have some very risky surgery or go home and live the rest of his THREE months of life.

Needless to say, my heart dropped to the floor and I started to tear up. He continued by saying, in a very matter of fact manner, that they went home with what seemed like a hopeless scenario. A couple days later, Daniel’s mom saw Marlo Thomas on TV talking about St. Jude and she decided to call the number given on the TV screen.

After explaining the situation to St. Jude, they immediately flew him to the Hospital in Memphis and started treatment. TWO YEARS later, he is alive and well and most importantly, still that happy kid. Daniel touched my heart in so many ways and started me on this journey that has lead to this day.

Just a couple months after meeting Daniel:

– I meet Josh Neuman (a Committee member) and he tells me his story how he lost his little brother to cancer,
– My sister’s best friend’s daughter is diagnosed with cancer and is being helped by the research and training of St. Jude,
– I approach one of tonight’s sponsors for support and it turns out that his daughter has been saved due in part to St. Jude’s research
– There are so many stories like these, and you will get the opportunity to hear more of them tonight from the individuals most directly impacted.

But the fact of the matter is, St. Jude touches all of our lives in one way or another. They truly represent hope in the most dire of human situations. My hope is that this event will raise millions over time to help St. Jude and their important work. Again, I would like to thank of all of you for being here, Molly my co-chair, all the committee members, our sponsors, Kristin Davis, Cuba Gooding, Sr., and, of course, Tony Bennett and for helping us launch this first step in a journey of hope.

Richard Estevez
Chair St. Jude Chocolat au Vin