If you’ve golfed with us in the past, you may have realized that today we are missing a very loyal and foundation member who usually golfs and who played a very big role in all the little details that make this event successful. Last May the world lost a great man, Ken Lawton. He was a founding member of our foundation and Gracie’s papa. For those of you that don’t know, Gracie died in her Papa’s arms. I’m hoping she’s sitting in his lap, in Heaven, as we speak and they’re smiling down on all of the love that’s here today. So please raise your glasses in honor of one of our heroes…. My dad, Ken Lawton.
Welcome to the 7th annual Amazing Gracie’s Golf Scramble! Thank you for spending the day with us and for raising money for Amazing Gracie’s Gift Foundation.
I can’t believe what you and all of our supporters have helped this foundation accomplish in the past 7 years, it’s truly remarkable:
- First let me start with today. I absolutely loved seeing all your smiles, hearing your laughter and watching the great interactions from golfers, volunteers and all the people involved in making today successful. I’m not sure if you realize how amazing today has been: Today we had over 160 golfers, over 30 volunteers, over 100 donations from some amazing people and businesses, and sponsorships totaling over $13,000 before the tournament even began!
- Because of our increase in sponsorships, donations and grants over the past 7 years we are able to expand our services and events from Albany to Syracuse. Which means we are able to directly impact and help many more families who are struggling emotionally and financially with their child’s diagnosis. To date we have helped over 500 families through our basket and backpack events, gift giving and volunteer hours at the hospitals and RMH and by individual financial assistance or memory making vacations. We are also happy to announce that we will be sponsoring 2 new programs at the Melodies Center at Albany Med, Beads of Courage and Flashes of Hope. Beads of Courage is a program in which children tell their story using colorful beads as meaningful symbols of courage that commemorate milestones they have achieved along their unique treatment path. Flashes of hope’s purpose is multi-faceted in that it not only gives families the opportunity to receive a professional photo session, but it also provides patients with the opportunity to document their treatment journey and capture in lasting images, their tremendous courage and strength. Both of these programs will allow us to touch the lives of more families and help them create memories.
Today we are not here for Gracie, but instead we are here in memory of Gracie. She touched all our lives in one way or another and we are paying it forward by being amazing in memory of her. What we are here for today is the kids who are battling cancer or a life threatening illness. We are here to help them make memories and to support them, both emotionally and financially. The giving hearts of all the people in this pavilion/room and all those who couldn’t be here today continue to amaze us by helping us achieve this goal.
I’d like to share a story with you of a family we’ve helped this past year. Mya Corigliano is known for her mischievous smile, beautiful blue eyes and messy hair. She is a true superhero, who has courageously battled cancer most of her life. Mya’s family could not be here today because Mya’s older sister has the prom this evening but Mya’s mom Brandi, wrote about their journey with Mya for her friend and fellow cancer fighting mom to share today. Jaimie’s daughter Liliana and Mya battled cancer together at Golisano children’s hospital. Liliana is doing well and is in remission! Jaimie has graciously offered to share Mya’s story with all of you today:
Mother’s Day 2016 was a day my husband Steve and I will never forget, the day I delivered Mya, our fifth and final daughter. Our family was complete, Steve and I could not have been happier. Mya’s first three months went by fast but smooth. After a week of what we thought was the stomach bug, two trips to the Emergency room and one to her doctor, we were devastated to find out that Mya had cancer. We were admitted to Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital for further testing. A few days later it was discovered that Mya had AML (acute myeloid leukemia), and it was a subtype with a very poor prognosis and she would need a bone marrow transplant. Mya and I spent most of the next four months in Golisano for three rounds of induction chemotherapy. While Steve had to stay home because of work and to take care of Mya’s older sisters. We were fortunate that one of her sisters was a perfect match for the transplant.
December 6th, 2016 we made the trip to Philadelphia. December 16th was the big day, transplant day. The day where one of my daughters saved my other daughters life. We spent 81 days in Philadelphia, which brought our total to almost 7 months of Mya being away from her daddy and sisters. I don’t know if there was anything more exciting than the drive home from Philadelphia, our family was finally going to be together under one roof.
Unfortunately, less than 24 hours after we got home, her oncologist called to tell us that the bone marrow biopsy that they had done before we left showed signs of cancer, she had already relapsed. We were told to stop all of her anti-rejection drugs, and her only chance of survival was for her sister’s cells to take over and kill the cancer. It took almost two months, but her sister’s cells did in fact win, and she was back in remission. Our family was together, Mya was flourishing, crawling and starting to walk, eating and drinking and was finally a normal baby. Until June 26th, the dreaded day we found out she relapsed, and not a mild relapse this time, her body had been completely taken back over by the leukemia. Our options were limited, her body wasn’t ready and couldn’t survive aggressive chemo, Mya was terminal. Our options were palliative chemo to keep her comfortable and buy us as much time as possible, or make her comfortable for her remaining few days left on earth. Two days later we were readmitted to Upstate Golisano to have a port placed and to start palliative chemo. We were all devastated, Steve and I decided to make a bucket list with our girls, something they all wanted to do with Mya. We had no idea how we were going to afford it, as it had been almost a year since I was able to work, and though Steve was able to keep us afloat for the last year, we didn’t have anything left over for vacation. Mya was too young for Make-a-Wish. That is where Amazing Gracie’s Gift saved the day. They reached out to us and said that they wanted to make our dreams come true. That every family deserved the best memories. They told us to plan our dream vacation and they would make it happen. They did not disappoint. Our family was able to go to Sesame Place, the Philadelphia zoo, the Adventure Aquarium and Crayola Experience. Our girls had a long weekend of stress free, cancer free, hospital free fun with Mya. We got to see Mya on a tube in the lazy river, we ate dinner and had a meet and greet with all the Sesame characters, we got to hear her bark at every animal at the zoo and aquarium, we got to have our own coloring book pages made with Mya’s picture. We had a perfect vacation. Because of Amazing Gracie’s Gift, Steve and I were able to spoil our girls, thank them for helping us survive the last year, and we got to make memories that will last a lifetime. Thank you again to everyone involved with Amazing Gracie’s Gift, I hope you all know what you mean to families like us!
Unfortunately, Mya did not make it. She passed away December 19, 2017 at 19 months old. Because of all of you Amazing Gracie’s Gift has been able to help support Mya’s family!
We will do whatever it takes to help families like the Corigliano’s make memories to put smiles on their faces and memories filled with love in their hearts.
Each year I state our motto and I ask you to be amazing. So without further ado…
Be Amazing like the RMH of Albany. A place that provides comfort, hope, love, and support for so many families. The RMH now has more room for love in their new house and can hold up to 25 families. One of those rooms was built in Gracie’s name. It is beautiful, warm, comforting and totally amazing.
Be Amazing like the Melodies Center at Albany Med and like Golisano Children’s Hospital whose efforts to help save and cure children are endlesss.
Be Amazing like Lilliana who is 3 years old and is in remission after bravely fighting leukemia.
Be Amazing like Jacinto who is 1 year old and has been fighting a rare brain cancer.
Be Amazing like 2 year old Giada who has bravely been fighting cancer.
Be Amazing like Will who has been bravely fought cancer and has had to have a lung transplant due to the side effects of treatment.
Be Amazing like 18 year old Marcus who is fighting a type of lymphoma.
Be amazing like 3 year old Azalea who has been diagnosed with Stage 4 High Risk Amplified Neuroblastoma
Be Amazing like 4 year old Cooper who passed away last week from leukemia.
Be Amazing like Ava who at 3 years old passed away from neuroblastoma this past September.
Be Amazing like Mya.
Be Amazing today and always for all the kids who are suffering and for all the kids who have lost the fight.
And lastly, my motto and what keeps me going on a daily basis – Be Amazing like Gracie.
Thank you for the past seven years. Let’s keep it going and make it to 10 years!