While the world’s attention has been focused on the recent pandemic and the race to find a cure for COVID-19 this year, another fight continues on the home front to help find a cure for cancer and help kids live through their own cancer battles with dignity and hope.
The Scoreboard Charities nonprofit was founded by Hinsdale resident Rick Heinz, who lost his mother to cancer more than 25 years ago. Combining his longtime affinity for sports collecting with a mission of helping others overcome their battles with cancer— including children who are living with the disease—the charity set on a mission to raise funds and raise awareness at the same time. Through Scoreboard Charities, people are able to donate sports memorabilia to be sold, with proceeds benefiting nonprofit organizations that support the fight against cancer.
Four years ago, Heinz and his supporters elevated that concept to host what immediately became a beloved annual fall fundraiser. For the first two years it was known as “Wine, Women & Shoes®” but the event evolved last year (keeping all the same fun, food, and fashion ingredients) into “Uncorked: Pull a Cork for Cancer.” Proceeds from the event benefitted Camp One Step by Children’s Oncology Services and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, bringing Scoreboard’s three-year fundraising tally to $565,000.
The plan was to do it all again this year, following a similar wine, shopping, raffles, musical entertainment, and auction format. Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened, and while the funding need is greater than ever, the logistics of hosting such an event seemed almost impossible.
However, as Scoreboard Charities and its team of volunteers are about to prove, unprecedented times call for unprecedented ingenuity.
“Scoreboard Charities considered many ways to continue its mission this year and decided that a virtual event would allow us to keep attendees safe and still deliver an exciting evening,” explains co-chair Karen Mincheff of Oak Brook. “Our event will still have our foundational elements—fashion, tastings, and Keys to the Closet, but rather than a group event, attendees will participate from the comfort of their home—or perhaps in a ‘pod’ at the home of a friend.”
“Uncorked: Pull a Cork for Cancer” will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. on Friday, November 6—offering a unique opportunity for each attendee to literally create the environment in which they would like to participate.
Mincheff and her committee spent many hours designing an evening that will be entertaining but also leave you with a glow at the end of the evening, knowing that you have supported two very important causes—Camp One Step by Children’s Oncology Services and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“As much as the pandemic has changed our lives, it has not lessened the needs of these two wonderful programs. The need remains constant,” she adds. “As our world shrinks, Uncorked still provides an opportunity to celebrate the gift of friendships, resilience, and generosity.”
Even though the event will be completely virtual, it still promises some of its signature features, including luscious wines, glamorous fashion, an incredible live auction, and a chance to win “keys” to a $10,000 dream closet provided by honorary chair Sweet William—the auction’s largest raffle item.
SavWay Fine Wine and Spirits in Hinsdale will be the wine vendor this year. Each ticket sold will include a swag bag with a bottle of wine, wine glass, and other goodies. Mincheff says the committee’s volunteer “pour guys” will deliver the bags to the respective houses a day or two prior to the event. Participants will be given the passwords and links to the website for the evening. As always, 100 percent of every dollar raised from this privately sponsored event will go to Camp One Step and the Lurie Center.
“This year is especially tough for charities and cancer research because there is a very limited ability to host the annual fundraising events that would normally take place. Scoreboard Charities is working around our current limitations to do what we can to raise money because we know that doing something is going to be far more impactful than doing nothing,” says Uncorked Marketplace Chair Kelly Hiser of Schaumburg. “Even though the pandemic has put our world on hold, kids are still getting diagnosed with cancer every day and that will not stop.”
Hiser and her husband have been heavily involved with Scoreboard Charities over the years, sitting on the board of directors and volunteering their time at various charity events that benefit the nonprofit.
“I started volunteering at the golf events, selling raffle tickets to the attendees and have had the pleasure of getting to know a number of people involved, who selflessly donate their time, money, and energy to support this amazing charity,” says Hiser, who is serving on the board for a second year. “Donations are more important than ever because they enable cancer programs to strengthen and expand, which benefits countless patients and their families. Also, with all of the negativity surrounding this year, it feels so good to be able to give back.”
The two beneficiaries this year are worthy ones. The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University is dedicated to scientific discovery, advancing medical knowledge, providing compassionate, state-of-the-art cancer care, and training the next generation of clinicians and scientists. Camp One Step operates camp programs that give children who’ve been diagnosed with cancer a chance to meet and bond with other pediatric cancer patients and survivors in a non-hospital setting and find a community that offers one another support, hope, strength, and understanding through shared experiences.
Hiser says she had the opportunity to witness the healing power of Camp One Step in Lake Geneva last year.
“Pulling up to the camp and watching all of the kids running and playing, you would never know the struggles they face on a daily basis trying to beat cancer because they are so happy and truly living in the moment,” she says, adding: “It’s so priceless to see. I have been so grateful to witness the profound impact of the money raised and just how much it helps these kids feel like kids again.”
Even though the event will look and feel a little different this year, she and the other organizers encourage everyone to log on, pop some corks, and virtually support Scoreboard Charities on its mission to find a cure for cancer.
“We want people to know that giving back in any way is so appreciated, whether it is money, time, prayers, or sharing social media posts,” Hiser explains. “Together we can all contribute in the fight against cancer!”
“Uncorked: Pull A Cork for Cancer” will be held virtually from 7 to 8 p.m. on Friday, November 6. Tickets are $100 per person, which includes a swag bag and a bottle of wine. For more information, visit scoreboardcharities.com.