The place was packed and lines everywhere were long, so it was slow going getting on the rides they really wanted to try out. The family was getting tired and cranky and the park’s closing time was coming soon, when Michelle decided to do something. (She’s like that!)
Michelle with her surgeon, Dr. Greg Midis.
She complained to management and, to make things right, her family was given a special pass that allowed them to skip all the lines and immediately get on any ride they wanted until closing time. It was great. “I called it our ‘golden ticket,'” she said. They ran from one ride to the next, getting on every single one they wanted.
Michelle, a cancer survivor, was the honoree at the Hope Gala. She has amazed her doctors and other caregivers by far surpassing their predictions about her longevity. “I feel like I’ve been given that golden ticket!” she said. And she’s making the most of it by living every day to the fullest and enjoying every single thing that comes her way.
Many people know Michelle. She is the executive director of the Executive Women’s Association and she works part time as a writer at Moxley Carmichael. Her MoxCar co-workers filled a table (and more) at Cherokee Country Club that night and we delighted in her story and in her honor.
Scott Bird and Erica Beck, both of Moxley Carmichael, during the cocktail reception and silent auction.
In 2009, when she was 45 years old, Michelle heard the words no one wants to hear, “You’ve got cancer.” The physically active and happily married mother of two looked healthy, ate right and exercised religiously. Nevertheless, she had Stage IV cancer – the most advanced and deadly form of the disease.
The cancer started in her colon, spread to her liver and later moved to both lungs. To date, she has undergone rigorous chemotherapy twice, a six-week session of chemo and radiation together, and endured four major surgeries. She still has cancer in her right lung.
Through all this, Michelle has maintained a wonderful attitude due largely, she says, to her faith in God. She recently penned a book, “My Anchor Holds,” an inspirational account of her faith journey with cancer, and says that she is blessed to know that her story is bringing hope and healing to others who are hurting.
Michelle is a lifelong resident of Fountain City and has been married to her high school sweetheart, David, for 31 years. They have two grown sons, Drew and wife, Samantha, and Evan.
The American Cancer Society says that in Tennessee, 105 people are diagnosed with cancer EVERY DAY. Thanks in part to research funded by the American Cancer Society over the past century, cancer has gone from being an automatic death sentence to being a treatable and even preventable disease.
The guest chef for the evening was Matt Gallaher of Knox Mason. If you go there as often as I do, you will recognize his signature pimento cheese, normally served in little Mason jars at the downtown eatery.
There also was a sumptuous cheese and charcuterie station.
From left, Christine Bell, Nina Reineri, Leslie Apking and Brad Howell.
There were some very distinctive auction items, like these wooden pieces.
And this necklace by Janet Edkins.
I thought this calendar made out of an old window was very cool.
I noticed my hubs, Alan Carmichael, admiring this clock. But, unfortunately, it belongs to Cherokee Country Club and was not for sale!
Here are Bedford and Cecelia Waters during the silent auction.
More Moxley Carmichael folks, from left, our Natalie Bailey and her husband, Chase, Maria Cornelius and Amanda Jennings.
From left, Beverly Gleason, Jerry Askew and state Sen. Becky Massey.
Another awesome passed appetizer. Yum, yum.
These ladies would sing a little later. Jill Smith, left, is with the Smith Family Theater in Pigeon Forge. Amber Vanderslice-Shelton is a casting director with Jupiter Entertainment.
From left Nathan Sparks of Cityview magazine, auctioneer Bear Stephenson and Bob Spining, who chaired the Hope Gala with his wife, Jackie.
Jo Ann Henderson, left, and Melody Harper both are with the American Cancer Society.
Courtnay Baker, left, and Sheila Barnett.
Hallerin Hill was there. He posed with this young fan of his named Neyland.
Clint Cummins and Jessica Stewart both are with the American Cancer Society.
Keith Jones, left, and Ken Finnegan.
Margaret Butler, left, and Avice Reid.
When we sat down in the ballroom, Bob Spining, the co-chair of the event, shared his own story of battling cancer.
And then it was time for the food!
The very interesting first course was a lightly smoked Sunburst trout cake with creme fraiche, trout roe, cornmeal crackers and young arugula. All sourced nearby.
I had never tasted this champagne before, but it was a great accompaniment because the crisp bubbles cut through the richness and saltiness of the trout cake and roe.
The entree was a slow cooked ribeye with potato puree, roasted autumn vegetables and local mushroom Bordelaise sauce.
This cab was another perfect wine match.
Mark Jennings at our table wasted no time in digging in.
Finally, Alan’s favorite course: Southern apple tart tatin with salted caramel ice cream and toasted marshmallow fluff.
Here’s our dessert wine. Yum.
Here’s the happy boy!
Michelle did a great job when it was her turn to speak.
Music was by the Chillbillies, one of the best dance bands around.
The band features Juvenile Court Judge Tim Irwin.
And businessman Teddy Phillips.
I think Nina Reineri had fun on the dance floor.
Jim and Mary Lee Keeler.
Lisa Shouse, right, and Sheila Barnett sat this one out.
Bear Stephenson and Shirley Elder hit the floor after his live auction duties were finished.
The Moxley Carmichael crowd didn’t waste the opportunity to dance. Natalie and Chase Bailey are at left and Amanda and Mark Jennings are on the right.
We grabbed the chance to get Michelle’s photo with our whole crew. From left, Scott Bird, Erica Beck, Maria Cornelius, Chase and Natalie Bailey, David and Michelle Henry, Alan and me, and Amanda and Mark Jennings.