Carley McMaster was about to turn 8 years old when she found out she had an ependymoma brain tumor.
She fought with her illness for three years before passing away in December 2008. But, during that time, she never stopped supporting others, loving and caring, said her parents Vindi and Scott McMaster.
On Feb. 3, 2010, the McMasters started the Carley’s Ray of Hope Memorial in her memory.
“We are fortunate we are able to do what we do,” Vindi said. “We help other families, and it helps us. Carley will always be part of the family.”
In addition to the run and the softball tournament this year, McMasters will be hosting a “Night of Wine and Roses” event on Friday from 7 to 11 p.m. at Newberry Hall.
“We wanted this (year) to be a Valentine’s theme, some place for folks to go, relax for a nice Valentine’s dinner, enjoy some music, maybe dance a little, check out some auction items and, in the process, support a good cause,” Scott said.
All funds raised will go toward supporting the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children.
Dinner will be provided by Newberry Hall, which catered the event last year when it was held at the Aiken County Historical Museum.
“David Sacks (hall owner) and his crew were so good to us last year, not to mention how incredibly organized they were,” Scott said. “And the food was outstanding. We thought it would just be easier to have everything in one spot.”
Newberry Hall is familiar with housing these benefits, having hosted events such as Area Churches Together Serving’s Icicle Ball and Children’s Place’s and Helping Hands’ events.
“We are glad to be a part of (the gala) and raise awareness to the cause,” Sacks said.
Eric “Bogie” DeBeaugrine and Tony Muniz will be the entertainers of the night, while USC Aiken baseball head coach Kenny Thomas will conduct the auction.
Last year, Dr. John Tiffany of Southside Pediatrics was recognized for his aid to local children and families. It was Tiffany who caught Carley’s illness in the first place, the Aiken Standard reported last January.
This year, it will be Hitchcock Healthcare that will be getting its dues.
“Our daughter benefitted from the fine work that Hitchcock Healthcare does,” Scott said. “Carley had physical therapy there, and our experience with the staff there was very good. They, of course, do adult therapy as well, so we wanted to honor them for the outstanding work they do in the community as a provider of top notch therapeutic services for people of all ages.”
Tickets to the gala are $60 for a single and $100 for a couple, with sponsorship offers available. People who give $300 will receive two tickets and recognition in the program. Those who give $500 will get reserved seating and eight tickets, a half-page ad in the event program and second billing on the event banner, while those who give $1,000 will gain reserved seating and 16 tickets, a chance to make a speech, top billing on the banner and a full-page ad. Tickets and sponsorships can be bought online at www.carleysraysofhope.com or at www.braintumorkids.org.
The idea for the gala was sparked through a personal experience. In 2006, Carley and her parents set out for the Hitchcock grand event; Carley’s painting she had done through one of the Hitchcock’s programs was up for auction.
“We absolutely loved the gala, especially Carley, and my wife and I said to each other, wouldn’t it be neat to do one of these someday?” Scott said. “Little did we know we’d be given the opportunity to do it through the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children.”
Vindi added, “We wanted a fun evening where people in Aiken get dressed up and raise awareness for these children.”
The Carley Ray Memorial is a subset of the Brain Tumor Foundation and focuses on raising money for South Carolina families and children. Ever since its start, it has raised around $45,000.
“God has given us the opportunity to do something special with our lives, since the passing of our daughter Carley. Being able to work with the foundation has been an absolute blessing, knowing that the work we put into these events can ultimately assist a family and child going through a situation that no parent ever wants to go through. Yes, we lost our daughter to brain cancer, but I know in my heart Carley is very proud of the entire Carley’s Rays of Hope group and what we’ve accomplished to help some of these families out,” Scott said.
Scott and Vindi are grateful for the support they have been given over the years, knowing that it has helped contribute to the success Carley’s Rays of Hope is today and will continue to be.
Want to Go?
Night of Wine and Roses
Friday, (Feb. 8) from 7 to 11 p.m.
Newberry Hall, 117 Newberry St. S.W.
$60 for a single and $100 for a couple, with sponsorship levels available
www.carleysraysofhope.com or at www.braintumorkids.org