…she’ll write a recap to go with it.
One of Kate’s favorite foods was, of course, pancakes. She was a purist – only butter and syrup for her; no sprinkles or chocolate chips and she really preferred the kind made at Amphora Restaurant. She called it the Pancake Place and we went there often. (Very often.) I knew I wanted to host an event around her birthday to officially launch the website, the cause and invite people to celebrate her life with us. With that, the idea of the PanKATE breakfast was born.
Turns out, I have really amazing friends who are REALLY good at this sort of thing. Board members Megan & Kate set out to help in any way possible. They helped source the venue, the volunteers (or volunTOLDS as it would be for several families!) and helped me plan every detail. They were my sounding board and told me not to freak out when attendance was low early on. Kate found several local sponsors to help us off-set costs and Megan found us a CHEF to run the kitchen. (Why yes. Our breakfast WAS cooked by a professional chef and a team of volunteers!) Even my co-workers jumped into action beginning with the gift of 20 pink linens for us to keep by my dear friend & co-director, Mellissa. My boss, our food & beverage director and our chef also set to work seeking donations from various purveyors and essentially opened up the kitchen doors to me (quite literally) and said I could borrow whatever we needed to get the job done. What started out as a few donations to help with the overall budget became a completely SPONSORED event that allows us to make a profit and carry our mission forward.
A small army of volunteers helped set up the church hall on Friday night with no a/c. We unloaded approximately 4,000 trucks full of stuff that night. OK…maybe just 3. But it took hours to set up the tables, organize the kitchen and get everything ready. Saturday morning that very same group woke up before the sun to get to work on the business of the day – COOKING FOR 246 people! We had volunteers all over – working registration, refilling the buffet & beverages, cooking in the kitchen and manning the 50/50 raffle. The place was absolutely crawling with love and because of their willingness to help, Mike and I were able to just show up to our own event, mingle with our guests and talk about Kate.
Oh it was such a wonderful day. Kate was absolutely EVERYWHERE. She filled the air, she shone through smiles and her presence was palpable. That darling little girl was just everywhere. I saw it in the eyes of her sweet friends when they took a little pause to watch the slide show scroll through photos of their friend. I saw it in the faces of the other moms there whose children were treated at the same cancer clinic as Kate. I saw it in the little toy dinosaurs the Goldberg girls were giving out to their new friends. And I heard it in the laughter and in the music and in the words of the friends from near and far who came to join us. My girl, never far, was beaming with pride.
People streamed in for three hours – some we knew, some we didn’t. We got a chance to meet a few Prayers for Kate followers, which was a tremendous gift to us, and we got to see a lot of people we love in one place at one time. I wish I’d had the chance to speak with everyone personally for a good, long while. But before we knew it, the event was over and we were once again loading and unloading trucks, giggling at our friend Chris high up on the ladder desperate to save an escaped balloon that I wanted and drinking a celebratory champagne toast in an undisclosed location.
Kate would have gotten such a kick out of it all. Every last detail from the painted faces of her friends and pink and gold balloons to silly Uncle Chris. I know she was there and I know she is proud.