Carley McMaster never gave up – not after a brain tumor and a total of five strokes.
Three years after Carley lost her battle, her parents haven’t given up either.
Scott and Vindi McMaster hosted their second “A Dinner of Wine and Roses” benefit and auction Friday – raising funds for their own Carley’s Rays of Hope nonprofit in conjunction with the Atlanta-based Brain Tumor Foundation. The organization provides a number of benefit opportunities, including a 5K/10K run coming in June.
The program named after Carley provides assistance through the foundation and much more to help families with children who are being treated for brain tumors.
Special guests of the McMasters at the gala were Chris and Elisha Thompson of Evans, Ga., and their three children. Their son, Christopher Jr., 7, was diagnosed with a tumor last July. Since then, he has undergone three brain surgeries and 24 chemotherapy treatments.
His attitude is unreal, Chris Thompson said. His son remains happy and never gets upset with all the issues he has experienced.
When the family heard about Carley’s Rays of Hope, they were connected to the foundation, which has been a huge help with basic needs.
“It means a lot to be here and that Chris can be a part of it,” Elisha said.
Vindi expressed her joy that Christopher, his parents and two sisters attended the event, then presented Elisha with flowers.
Carley spent eight months as an out-patient at Hitchcock Healthcare – the rehabilitation facility in Aiken. The McMasters presented its administrators and therapists with the Ray of Hope Award in gratitude – not just for Carley, they said, but for all the thousands of children that Hitchcock has served.
A year ago, pediatrician Dr. John Tiffany received the award for his extraordinary support of children and their health. On Friday, he presented the same award to Heather Raynack, Hitchcock’s rehabilitation services director, and recognized the McMasters, too.
“Carley’s Rays of Hope has a special place in my heart,” Tiffany said. “When the organization was formed three years ago, I saw the courage of Vindi and Scott to give back to the community after going through the loss of a child.”
Tiffany called the award last year the highlight of his career. He is also proud of Hitchcock, serving most recently with the agency by meeting with the pediatric team to discuss therapy issues.
“Hitchcock is more than numbers with the therapy. ... It’s love and caring,” Tiffany said.
Hitchcock staffers constantly meet parents who want their children to eat and get nutrition or learn to walk or say “mommy” or be strong enough to go to school, Raynack said.
“Those basic things are what push us to become excellent therapists,” she said. “Our patients become our children, and we want the best for them, too. Our compassion, care and commitment to these children push us to always do more because, quite frankly, they deserve it.”
Since the establishment of Carley’s Rays of Hope, “We could never have imagined where it’s gone,” Scott McMaster said. “When we first started, we said we would do one event. Now we’re constantly thinking of new things to do to bring in more money for these parents.”
STAFF PHOTO BY ROB NOVIT Joined by older sister Brook, Christopher Thompson Jr. was a special guest at the Carley's Rays of Hope benefit gala Friday. Christopher maintains an ongoing smile - despite enduring three brain surgeries and 24 chemotherapy treatments in the last six months.×