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FAIRHOPE, Alabama (4/12/18) - All things Fairhope will take center stage on Sunday, April 29, when the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute hosts Hope Grows Here, its inaugural fundraiser for the state-of-the-art MCI Kilborn Clinic to serve Baldwin County residents in their own community.
“While Hope Grows Here is a fundraising event with all proceeds supporting operations of our Fairhope clinic, it is also designed to generate awareness about our Fairhope location and the cancer treatment services we offer,” said Kelly McCarron, associate vice president for medical affairs and health development at USA Health.
With a 16-chair infusion suite for chemotherapy and a state-of-the-art radiation treatment department, the Kilborn Clinic made its debut at a grand opening in January that featured an address by former U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin. The center is located adjacent to the Baldwin County Satellite Courthouse on Fairhope Avenue, which will also be the setting for Hope Grows Here.
In addition to an entirely locally-sourced farmers’ market brunch, Hope Grows Here will feature the talents of Baldwin County entertainers and artists as well as a high-end silent auction with all proceeds benefitting the Kilborn Clinic. Among the auction items already committed are a Patagonia fly fishing trip, a dove hunting excursion, dinner for six at Camelia Café, a three-night stay at the Beach Club in Fort Morgan, a CK Collection shopping spree and a host of artwork by local artists.
Maggie Lacey, executive editor of Mobile Bay magazine, is helping organize the event’s food and entertainment as part of the host committee and called the farm-to-table theme “fitting” because of Fairhope’s long agricultural history and prominence of local farmers.
“We are thrilled to have so many (local farmers) step up to take part in this event, support it with their donations of product, and attend and celebrate with us the opening of this new facility,” she said, noting that caterer Will Hughes is developing the locally-sourced menu that currently boasts participation and product donations by Little House Farms, Murder Point Oyster Co., Local Appetite Growers, Kittrell’s Daydream Honey and Penry Farms, among others.
“Will has created a wonderful brunch menu that will be self-serve, and he also will have passed hors d’oeuvres. The menu is still being finalized, but will include grits and grillades, raw local oysters, roasted local vegetables and pickled baby spring vegetables, among other tasty treats,” Lacey said.
In addition, local bluegrass favorite Fat Man Squeeze will perform, and the event will offer a Bloody Mary bar and signature cocktails prepared by local entrepreneur Anna Luce, featuring her locally-produced ginger water, Take Root.
“It’s about engaging with the Fairhope community even more than we already have: letting residents know that we’re here, what we do and that we’ve added a level of care they didn’t have before,” said Cristin Waite, USA senior special events coordinator.
Tickets will cost $125 and are available for purchase online through the Hope Grows Here event page and Eventbrite. For sponsorship opportunities, email Waite directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. The event, which will be held on the Kilborn Clinic grounds, begins at 12:30 p.m. and is slated to conclude by 4 p.m.
“We want people to know that we’re not here to compete with anybody, but we do want them to understand exactly what resources we provide right here in their backyard, so that they no longer have to travel for treatments,” Waite said.
Services at Kilborn
More than doubling MCI’s previous space at Thomas Hospital, the 17,896-square-foot Kilborn Clinic – located adjacent to the Baldwin County Satellite Courthouse on Fairhope Avenue – offers a full range of cancer services, including doctors’ visits, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, genetic counseling, access to clinical trials, support groups and educational sessions.
“Hope Grows Here will give attendees an opportunity to see our clinic firsthand and learn more about our academic approach to treating and preventing cancer,” McCarron said, adding, “Baldwin County cancer patients can now receive care even closer to home through our clinical, infusion, pharmacy and radiation services, and now they can do so without having to travel across the (Interstate 10) Bayway.”
Treatment close to home
One such patient is Fletcher Comer, an assistant principal at Daphne High School who was diagnosed with testicular cancer while living in North Carolina in 2008. While in remission, he relocated to Fairhope with his family in 2014, but mysterious blood pressure issues led him to MCI’s Dr. Daniel Cameron, who detected a malignant, 13-centimeter tumor in the center of his chest in 2016.
“I could have gone to Emory (University in Atlanta) or MD Anderson (in Houston), but both of those options were so far away, and when you are in that kind of fight, anything that’s extra is really significant. Any kind of extra stress just feels so much bigger than it probably is, and it adds to your family’s stress,” he said.
In turn, Comer sought treatment at MCI’s former Thomas Hospital location in Fairhope, and construction on the Kilborn Clinic began shortly after he entered his second remission.
“Being able to go to the infusion center and be home in three minutes was a huge blessing,” he said. “Where you receive your treatment is such a personal choice, but for me and my family, to be healed this close to home, no amount of money is going to be able to purchase that sort of gift,” he said, adding what a gift, itself, the Kilborn Clinic can be for other patients.
“It’s not just that it’s a brand new facility. You can have a shiny building, but if you don’t have high-quality caregivers, it’s not going to be all that it can be,” he said. “The people working at the Kilborn Clinic are true, everyday miracles of that institution.”
Meanwhile, Lacey said she and her family became involved with MCI after her brother, Austin, lost his battle to cancer a few years ago at the age of 28.
“We became motivated to help raise money for treatment for residents of our areas, and to raise funds for cancer research at MCI, hoping for a breakthrough. We hope to keep working closely with MCI,” she said, adding, “In honor of Austin’s life and legacy, we are working to help other families have many more bright futures, and MCI is the perfect partner for this cause.”
Part of USA Health, USA Mitchell Cancer Institute is the only academic cancer research and treatment facility on the upper Gulf Coast corridor. In addition to its flagship facility in Mobile and Kilborn Clinic in Fairhope, MCI also operates a treatment center in Monroeville, Ala.
© 2018 USA Health System