“We’re small but mighty,” reveals Thomas Schaffner, founder of the Julie W. Schaffner Ovarian Cancer Fund, dedicated to ovarian cancer research, awareness, and early detection, named after his late wife, who passed away New Year’s Eve 2010 after being diagnosed with stage III ovarian cancer only 18 months prior.
In that short time, Julie and Tom discussed doing something to help in the fight against this treacherous form of cancer, what would become her legacy. A product of those talks—and the hard work, collaboration, and creativity of Tom, their son and two daughters, and others who had known Julie from their Wilmette neighborhood—the JWS Fund was created six years ago to honor Julie’s life, her work as COO of Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, and the other women and families affected by ovarian cancer.
This loving legacy has helped raise awareness surrounding risk factors for the disease through educational programming and invested in the work of UIC at Chicago researcher Dr. Joanna Burdett, who is looking into the origin of ovarian tumors. The majority of funds, however, are earmarked for Lutheran General and its Cancer Survivorship Center, the first of its kind in Illinois, which Julie was instrumental in getting started.
Their biggest and boldest fundraising event to help support such generous giving is this month’s WineHopsScotch!, their annual spring event. Guests are invited to “sip and savor,” as the cleverly worded name suggests, South American wines from the Wilmette Wine Cellar, craft beer, and single malt scotch and fine bourbon courtesy of 1792 Small Batch, E. H. Taylor Small Batch, and Stagg Jr. New this year, by popular demand, WineHopsScotch! will also offer a specialty tequila tasting, featuring selections from Corazon, Siete Leguas, and Casa San Matias Tahona.
While they sample the finest wines and strongest stouts, attendees can mingle to live jazz, provided by Shim’s Trio, taste the gourmet offerings of The Entertaining Company, and enjoy interactive exhibitions by local artists, courtesy of the Evanston Art Center, hosts of the event since 2017. “We feel so fortunate to have such a great relationship with the EAC and are looking forward to having the event there again this year!” says Tom.
Joining other friends and family selflessly stepping up for the cause is Wilmette resident Tina Carlson, owner of event design firm Ivan Carlson & Associates, who is providing the décor for the evening and managing “the logistics that make a regular fundraising event look, feel, and operate like a ‘fantastic” event,’” says Tom.
As you engage all five senses, be sure to treat yourself with a raffle ticket or two—past prizes have included tickets to Hamilton, a wine tasting for 10 at the Wilmette Wine Cellar, Cubs and Bears tickets, wine and liquor baskets featuring top-shelf products, and much more.
A true celebration of life and community, the work of the JWS Fund and its signature event are uplifting spirits and truly making a difference. “We’re proud of what we’ve done,” says Tom. And Julie certainly would be, too.
For more information, to make a donation, or to purchase tickets, visit jwsfund.org. Individual tickets are $150 ($125 with early bird pricing, available until April 16).