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Courage Thru Cancer

Fifth Anniversary

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger  | Photos by Don Perry

As guests entered the downstairs hallway of the Memphis Hilton for the 2019 Courage Thru Cancer (CTC) Celebration, they were greeted with saki and complimentary sushi from Sekisui. Nigiri, sashimi, crunchy cones and sushi rolls offered a tasty start to the evening. Cocktail tables were interspersed among the tables of silent auction items, giving everyone a chance to bid and mingle. Up for bid were items for Health & Beauty, Entertainment, Sports, Art, Fashion and Dining. Alex Grisanti offered a cooking class for 8. There were certificates for a stay at The Peabody, as well as a lake house in Heber Springs. Sports enthusiasts had a variety of golfing packages available. There was also a certificate for time in a batting cage, an option on a suite for a Grizzlies game, tickets to a Predators hockey game in Nashville, and a one-of-a-kind basketball autographed by the entire 2019-2020 University of Memphis team.

Gerry Finney and Friends provided musical entertainment as guests moved into the ballroom for a seated dinner. The meal included a “build your own wedge salad,” a dual entree of salmon with orange marmalade and braised short ribs with red wine demi-glaze served with vegetables and, for dessert, a triple chocolate mousse. 

Jon Thompson, founder of Courage Thru Cancer, welcomed guests and reminded them of the evening’s mission.

“Courage Thru Cancer was created for one purpose: To support anyone who’s life has been touched by cancer,” explained Thompson. “This year’s Courage Thru Cancer Celebration benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Our 2019 honorees are Kim Culbreath, Tracy Gallagher, Michelle Campbell, Julie Clary, Ed Inman, Loren Roberts, Kevin Kane, and Melissa Corzine, our Dana Burkett Memorial Courage Award honoree. 

The theme for the evening was Hope in Connections, and was dedicated to the memory of Virginia Steele. She was remembered as someone who told others to live their lives knowing that a higher power was in control of their disease, that all they could control was their attitude.”

Kevin Nienhuis from ALSAC came to the stage to thank everyone present on behalf of the children of St. Jude and reminded the crowd that the evening was about hope. After the meal and the presentations, headline entertainment by local artist Rob Caudill was followed by the band Walrus, co-founded by CTC 2015 honoree Patrick Crump. 

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