With more than $2.18 million raised over eight years, Discover the Dream has provided major support for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a pediatric cancer hospital in Memphis that operates entirely on donations.
And providing major support for Discover the Dream is a team of dedicated volunteers who work hard to make sure the annual fundraiser at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium goes off without a hitch.
This year’s Discover the Dream – highlighted by a catered dinner, cocktails and silent and live auctions, and hosted by Jack Hanna – is slated for May 16. It is expected to draw a sellout crowd of 700 attendees.
Volunteers have roles in all aspects of the event, which is run entirely on donated time and services – even the catering is donated. They solicit sponsorship dollars and auction donations, plan and execute publicity strategies, put together invitations and programs, greet and register guests, work with catering, serve food, and clean up afterward.
The long hours and hard work they put in are worthwhile sacrifices for the greater good of St. Jude’s cause, says volunteer Siri Groeber.
Groeber, of Upper Arlington, has been a Discover the Dream volunteer for the past seven years. Logistics, coordination, preparation and mailing of invitations, and working the silent and live auctions are a few of her duties over the years.
“It’s wonderful to a part of the event and group of volunteers, and to do something that makes a difference,” she says.
St. Jude’s mission is to research and treat pediatric cancer, and it shares its research freely throughout the medical community. No St. Jude patient ever receives a hospital bill for anything, be it transportation, meals or overnight family stays. That level of service runs up a cost of $1.8 million per day, making fundraisers such as Discover the Dream crucial.
“Childhood diseases and cancer hit at everyone’s heart,” says event logistics chairwoman Suzanne Meyers, an Upper Arlington resident who has volunteered since the first year of Discover the Dream. “People want to help not only the children, but the families as well.”
Though the event has been recognized for its low cost-to-revenue ratio, enthusiastic donation campaign and high level of volunteerism, the top priority for the people who put it on is the patients served by the hospital.
“Once you’ve seen the hospital and understand its mission, you can’t help but attach yourself,” says event co-chairwoman Lisa Khourie, a northwest Columbus resident who has been volunteered for every Discover the Dream.
Morgan Montgomery is a contributing writer. Feedback welcome at email@example.com.