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FedExFamilyHouse Gala

There’s No Place Like a Home-Away-From-Home

Story by Virginia M. Davis | Photos by Baxter Buck 

Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis serves 250,000 patients each year. Families from around the world bring their ill children there for treatment at the hospital’s centers of specialized pediatric medicine. For many, the journey to hope and better health proves arduous, lengthy and extremely expensive.

Situated across the street from Le Bonheur is FedExFamilyHouse, a beautiful facility that provides cost-free lodging to families who travel to Le Bonheur from outside of Memphis. Respite, comfort and love abound in this home-away-from-home. Amenities include rooms and suites, fully equipped kitchens where families can prepare their own meals, play areas, fitness and laundry rooms and more.

FedExFamilyHouse opened in 2010. In that year its supporters threw a gala picnic of fried chicken and barbecue. Now in its 10th year, the affair remains one of the largest annual fundraising events for the nonprofit facility. This year’s gala at The Peabody celebrated a recently completed $12 million expansion that tripled the number of accommodations available for out-of-town families.

Honorary chair was Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, who is beloved in the community as head coach of the University of Memphis men’s basketball program. After Hardaway’s introduction to several hundred guests in The Peabody’s Grand Ballroom, he spoke of influences on his life values. “My grandmother said, ‘If you ever have an opportunity to do things for people and make a difference, do it.’ ”

During pre-dinner remarks FedEx Corp. Executive Vice President and CFO Alan Graf recognized Edwin Coleman, gala chair and program manager of FedEx Workforce Communications, as the 2019 FedExFamilyHouse volunteer of the year. Also introduced was Meri Armour, retiring president and CEO of Le Bonheur, who described her 12 years there as “a brief shining moment.”

Gala highlights also included a reception and silent auction in the Continental Ballroom and a seated dinner, followed by a boisterous live auction. Receiving the highest bid ($34,000) of any item was a dinner for six guests hosted by Memphis Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol and his wife, Cristina, at their home in Barcelona, travel and lodging expenses included. Guests were then treated to a performance by country music star Martina McBride.

Presenting sponsor was FedEx. Additional key sponsorships were provided by Baker McKenzie, Caesars Entertainment, Cigna, Deloitte, Ellichman Vein & Vascular Centers, Epsilon,Ernst & Young, FedEx Employees Credit Association, Susan and Alan Graf, Oracle, Ozark Motor Lines Inc., PricewaterhouseCoopers, Salesforce, Diane and Fred Smith, and Julie and John A. Smith. 

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