Memorials and memories at the eighth annual Blue Hope Bash

MSNBC's Craig Melvin and wife Lindsay Czarniak at the Blue Hope Bash. Photo courtesy of Kate Michael.
MSNBC's Craig Melvin and wife Lindsay Czarniak at the Blue Hope Bash. Photo courtesy of Kate Michael.

By: Kate Michael

“I was going through a fashion show dilemma, as always, and something was off,” said Carmen Marc Valvo on stage at the eighth annual Colorectal Cancer Alliance’s Blue Hope Bash at the National Building Museum Thursday night.

“I had a litany of tests and my Doctor said,’There’s nothing wrong with you,’ and I said, ‘There is, there is, there is.’ So I insisted on having a colonoscopy… [and] they found a huge tumor,” continued the American fashion designer, Colorectal Cancer Alliance Vice Chairman, and colorectal cancer survivor. “The interesting part of this was that after I was diagnosed, I found out that I had two bouts of cancer in my family – one on my father’s side, one on my mother’s side, that nobody talked about. Interesting point…my father was a physician! We need to have the conversation. We need to de-stigmatize this disease.”

Valvo and so many others were on hand at the non-profit’s largest Blue Hope Bash. They shared their own stories and the legacies of loved ones who struggled with or passed from colorectal cancer.

Event co-Chairs Jennifer Chow, Jennifer Redmond, Tammy Sickels, and Alexa Smith came together in memoriam of their friend — and last year’s co-Chair — Michelle Benaim, who passed mere weeks before the event. Craig Melvin of the Today Show shared a story about his brother, who was diagnosed with stage IV (metastatic) colon cancer at age 39.

But the night wasn’t all sad memorials. There were also wonderful memories, too. An invited group of 13 colon cancer patients, survivors, and caregiver “AmBASHadors” from across the country joined for an evening of fun and fundraising by special guests Lindsay Czarniak (Sport Journalist), Jamie Raskin (U.S. Representative for Maryland and colorectal cancer survivor), Henry Waxman (former U.S. Senator), and John Backus (managing partner at Proof.VC and Colorectal Cancer Alliance Board chairman).

The evening included a cocktail reception, special dinner program, and live and silent auctions with themes of travel, food, and family fun.

After the stage program, a “Bubbles, Bourbon & Bling” winner was announced. Guests who purchased special glasses of champagne or bourbon were entered to win a custom-designed royal blue sapphire and diamond necklace — or a Rolex Submariner watch — courtesy of Liljenquist & Beckstead. One Porsche Car Raffle winner also took home a custom 2019 Porsche Boxster!

Since the Colorectal Cancer Alliance’s inception, the Bash has raised more than $7 million. This year, the Alliance has set a goal of $1 million to support its strategic goals.