For 300 guests at the Healing Hands Luncheon, Scott Hamilton‘s reputation for winning Olympic gold took a backseat after serving as the featured speaker at the HHM Health fundraiser on Friday, April 21, at Dallas Arts District Mansion. As important as his skating accomplishments were, his life’s journey of overcoming all types of challenges and adversity made him an all-around super hero and an inspiration to all. Here’s a report from the field:
In the words of Healing Hands Luncheon master of ceremonies Joe Trahan, the luncheon featured speaker Scott Hamilton “is a living example of good guys who finish first.” The New York Times bestselling author of “Finish First,” Olympic champion, cancer survivor, broadcaster, motivational speaker, husband, father and self-declared “eternal optimist” captured the undivided attention of the 300-plus guests at the second annual luncheon at the Dallas Arts District Mansion on Friday, April 21.
Under the leadership of Co-Chairs Shannon Graham and Julia Cunningham, the luncheon included presentation of the Healthcare Innovator Award to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. According to HHM Health CEO Brian Hawkins, who presented the award, more than 17,000 patients were seen last year since the two organizations formed a partnership. Virginia Rose accepted the award on behalf of THR Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.
Former Crystal Charity Ball Chair and HHM Health supporter Tucker Enthoven was honorary chair who was joined by her mother, philanthropist Julie Ford. Following their introduction, Brian updated the audience about HHM’s recent expansion including the opening of an Oak Cliff Clinic, an imaging center and pharmacy at the Vickery Meadow location.
HHM Population Health Team Director Katie Irwin also provided an update on the outreach programs, initiated in 2021, that included 107 events to provide information, vaccinations, screenings and outside clinic visits throughout the community last year.
During the luncheon, Scott was interviewed by Trahan about his foray into ice skating, childhood health misdiagnoses, growing up as an adopted child, an unsurpassed skating career, and eventually his passion for cancer awareness and personal for advocacy the eradication of chemotherapy.
“No matter how accomplished or important you think you are, nothing can shield you from the reality of being human,” said Scott in describing his diagnosis with testicular cancer in 1997. “It was exactly 20 years after losing my mom to cancer.”
How did he cope? “I put on my skates and performed a show. The next morning, I started my adventure of getting my life back. Everything I learned about being a champion-about fight and drive-what it meant to be a winner on ice-I used to fight the most important battle I had ever fought-the battle for my life.”
“My successful skating career gave me access to people, resources and opportunities I could use to help. And, now with the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation, I get to play a key role in research, education and survivorship for hundreds, perhaps thousands, or people who suffered like my mom and I have.”
While he is candid that chemotherapy played a critical role in his cancer survival, Scott’s current platform is the avid promotion of funding for research that will allow immunotherapy to replace traditional cancer treatment. He believes the funding and technology exist to make immunotherapy accessible to all cancer sufferers “very, very soon.”
Several months after his last cancer diagnosis, surgery and treatment, Scott performed in “a comeback show” at the Forum in Los Angeles. After his performance, which he described as “physically and emotionally taxing,” he was handed a microphone.
“When I finally could gather my thoughts, I spoke clearly and resolutely. The first words were: I win.”
With that, Scott literally leaped from the stage and returned to a group of luncheon guests eagerly waiting for an autograph, or like many, to share their own story of cancer survival or overcoming adversity.
Among the guests were luncheon Presenting Sponsor Lisa Cooley, daughter-in-law Bela Cooley fresh from chairing the previous weekend’s Art Ball, Michal Powell, Kim Hext, Caren Kline, Healing Hands Luncheon Inaugural Co-Chair Gina Betts and 2022 Honorary Chair Pam Busbee, fundraising veterans Stacy Walker, Susan Farris, Suzy Gekiere, Lindsey Ballotta, Kristina Whitcomb, Tiffany Divis and Debbie Raynor.
* Photo credit: Melissa Macatee