A 22-month-old girl was the center of attention Saturday night at a fundraiser for Creve Coeur-based HavenHouse, though she didn’t know it.
Meghan Tackett has a combination of rare diseases that attack her immune system, and she’s in St. Louis for medical care. While in the city, she and her family—who are from Joplin—stay at HavenHouse St. Louis, a home away from home for anyone who needs to travel to St. Louis go to any medical facility.
Saturday's event marked the first time that a family served by HavenHouse has attended the organization's annual fundraiser, Hope Fest, which was held at the Crowne Plaza St. Louis-Clayton. HavenHouse raised more than $100,000 during the event.
“This is all about bringing people together to not only bring awareness about HavenHouse but also to bring families together to see what we do here," said Paula Kinney, director of family services.
Nearly 300 people paid $100 for the dinner and the opportunity to donate to HavenHouse through a silent auction, a live auction and Fund-A-Family, in which participants give money directly to families in need. HavenHouse raised more than $80,000 at last year's event.
Businesses such as , Jilly’s Cupcake Bar and Cafe and Vom Fass donated items for the silent auction. The live auction included a golf package with the Fusz family, a cooking class taught by St. Louis restaurateur Kim Tucci, a vacation in Marco Island, FL, a spa party and a puppy.
Chesterfield resident Ellen Cressey served on the Hope Fest 2011 committee and volunteered throughout the year.
“We’re fortunate here to have wonderful medical facilities, great doctors, so it’s a great organization that’s here to help families,” said Ellen Cressey, one of approximately 30 volunteers, many from the , who helped with the event.
Perhaps the biggest announcement of the night: Clayton-based Centene Corporation will contribute $50,000 to start a new fund for Haven House called the Meghan Fund.
Centene Vice President Jim Messina made the announcement after the auction alongside Meghan's parents, Tiffiney and Tommy Tackett. Meghan will soon return to St. Louis for a bone-marrow transplant that's expected to happen over the course of six months, and Messina said Centene will cover the cost of the family's stay at HavenHouse during that time.
Her mother, Tiffiney, said she is hopeful about the outcome of the transplant.
“She has four big brothers, and you can tell she’s a fighter,” said Tiffiney, who will stay with Meghan in St. Louis.
Still, Meghan will miss her daddy and her four big, “very protective” brothers, Tiffiney said.