Bourbon & Bowties Spotlights Norton Children’s Hospital

By Remy Sisk  |  Nonprofit Profile

When 2017’s Bourbon & Bowties: A Taste of Corbett’s takes place on June 8, it will not only be a powerful fundraiser for Norton Children’s Hospital but also the latest entry in a series of annual events aimed at raising awareness and funds for the hospital’s work while shining a light on a specialized area of research or treatment.

Bourbon & Bowties, which is a yearly sell-out affair, will be held at Corbett’s: An American Place and feature eclectic tastings from a variety of Louisville’s top chefs. This year’s honoree is 13-year-old Mason Christensen, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 9. For his father, Tony Christensen, his passion for the cause is earnestly genuine as he and his family know first-hand the vital importance of Norton Children’s in the community. “We are very lucky to have a wonderful children’s hospital in our community,” he affirms. “It’s something none of us ever want to have to use, but if the need arises, we are very fortunate to have such a great place to treat our children. To allow the children’s hospital to be positioned to provide our children with the best possible care, we need to make sure they are able to attract the latest technology and the best people. That takes funding to make those things a reality.”

Norton Healthcare Chief Development Officer Lynnie Meyer is, of course, dedicated to the advancement of the hospital but additionally sees the evening as a rare opportunity to expand its reach. “It’s a huge opportunity for us to raise awareness about the mission and work of the hospital, but it’s an unbelievable fundraising event – it’s a three-hour cocktail party that nets more than $250,000 annually,” she enthuses.

Moreover, as Mason – an otherwise healthy teenager – is bringing awareness to the diabetes work being done at the hospital, Meyer sees this year’s event as especially important: “We have a real focus on our diabetes center – it’s a top-tier program for us, and we’re on a mission to continue raising dollars for support of the Novak Center and have a goal of building one of the top programs in the country right here. … The Christensens have been involved and are very passionate about the program, and I think Mason has got a great story to tell because he’s an adolescent. A 13-year-old boy is not what you typically think about – somebody who’s really active, who participates in sports – you don’t think about that child needing the children’s hospital, so I think it’s a great opportunity for us to elevate the awareness of the hospital and then at the same time raise dollars that are vital for the services we provide.”

Seeing his son as this year’s poster boy, whose image and story will help facilitate further growth at Norton Children’s Wendy Novak Diabetes Care Center, is tremendously rewarding for Christensen as he and his family may use their experiences as a way to help others. “[We are] honored and humbled,” he relates. “To be able to be included in such a wonderful event with wonderful people for such a wonderful cause is really special. We just want to do everything we can to get the word out and get the community behind the children’s hospital. Again, when our kids in the community need medical help, we couldn’t be more lucky to have this great asset available to all of us. Lives are saved and improved there every single day.”

And the work that goes on at the hospital is far greater and more expansive than that which is highlighted at Bourbon & Bowties. Though it’s a magnificent event for an extraordinary cause, Christensen emphasizes there’s always work to be done: “Sometimes life gets moving very quickly and I think we all have a tendency to take things like this for granted. Anything we can do to position the children’s hospital to provide the best possible care is something we absolutely want to do. We’d like to make sure this children’s hospital continues to be one of the best in the country. And that takes funding support.” VT