Leelanau’s Rove Estate Raised Thousands to Fight Childhood Cancer
Then cancer touched Rove’s own family.
By Ross Boissoneau | Aug. 3, 2019
When Creighton and McKenzie Gallagher host the Third Annual St. Jude Sunset in the Vines at Rove Estate later this month, it will be about more than just raising some money for a good cause. The event has become even more personal for them.
“My family always supported St. Jude. My second daughter had a cleft palate. We spent a lot of time at DeVos Children’s Hospital” in Grand Rapids, McKenzie Gallagher said. Some of her daughter’s recovery time was spent on the oncology ward, where the family often saw kids undergoing treatment for cancer. That heightened their awareness of the health battles some children faced.
Then, Gallagher herself was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“In September 2017 I was diagnosed with cancer. I had six months of chemotherapy. I was really sick, with a very low white cell count.” She had to wear a mask even at home to prevent the spread of germs and potentially deadly infections.
She was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. That meansthat the three most common types of hormone receptors that fuel most breast cancer growth —estrogen, progesterone, and the HER-2/neu gene — are not present in the cancer tumors. Since the tumor cells lack the necessary receptors, common treatments like hormone therapy and drugs that target estrogen, progesterone, and HER-2 are ineffective. Instead, chemotherapy is the best — sometimes the only — option.
Enduring the treatments wasn’t easy, but something else made the process even harder for her. “I saw children getting infusion while I got infusions,” Gallagher said.
And, with four young children of her own, ages 2, 4, 6, and 9, plus a new business (she and Creighton had opened Rove’s doors in spring of 2016), the timing couldn’t have been much worse.
“My family was impacted. The children had a hard time. I had long hair, and to see me bald was hard for them. I let them pick out my wig and headwrap. That brought some normalcy.”
With help from their extended family and friends, they were able to get through. “I think it made us stronger. You appreciate the little things. My husband’s family and my family are very large. They all were very helpful with kids’ appointments and extracurricular activities. The community support — all that made a huge difference. I couldn’t do anything. It was such a blur.”
She’s now been cancer free for a year and is looking forward to being able to give back again through the fundraiser they had launched well before her own diagnosis.
Sunset in the Vineswill take place Aug. 21 at the winery, located on M-72 just west of Traverse City. The first year it raised nearly $50,000. Last year the event raised just shy of $100,000 for the hospital. Gallagher laughed at the prospect of doubling it again this year, though she’s hopeful it will best last year’s total. One hundred percent of the money raised goes to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The event includes a catered dinner by Uptown Catering, live music by TC Celtic, a local patient speaker, and — of course — wine from Rove Estate.
Tickets are $100. VIP tickets are also available at $175 per person or $300 per pair, which include the above plus appetizers and hors d’oeuvres an hour before the event officially opens and unlimited wine (regular tickets provide two wine tickets each). There will also be a live and silent auction; prizes include tickets to Criss Angel’s show in Las Vegas, which he donated when he appeared earlier this year at Leelanau Sands. The event runs from 6pm to 9:30pm.
Tickets can be purchased online at stjude.org/sunsetinthevines. Anyone interested in sponsorship opportunities can contact Gallagher at email@example.com.
Photo above courtesy of Captured by Grace Photography