Partner Stephen J. Murphy has been recognized by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as the national 2019 Event Chairperson of the Year for the 10+ years of work he has put into organizing the annual St. Jude Autumn Wine Tasting fundraising event, which is sponsored by Block O’Toole & Murphy.
Mr. Murphy was presented the award at the St. Jude Volunteer Leadership Conference for the “excellence of on-going leadership” he has consistently displayed in the decade that Block O’Toole & Murphy has sponsored, organized and supported the event, according to Caroline Sparico, Senior Development Director at St. Jude. Since 2007, Mr. Murphy has spearheaded what Ms. Sparico described as “an incredibly dedicated and generous committee” made up of 5 members, all of whom are Partners at Block O’Toole & Murphy: Jeffrey A. Block, Daniel P. O’Toole, S. Joseph Donahue, David L. Scher, and Scott Occhiogrosso.
In her presentation of the award, Ms. Sparico described this team as “the model of an ideal event chair and committee. They lead by example in their personal generosity, they let no corner of their rolodex go unturned in seeking support, and they wake up the day after the event thinking about what more they can do for St. Jude the following year.”
Mr. Murphy, Mr. Block, Mr. O’Toole, and Mr. Scher were able to tour the St. Jude Hospital Campus in Memphis and see first-hand the impact that fundraisers such as the Autumn Wine Tasting have on people’s lives. In his acceptance speech, Mr. Murphy said of the tour that “to say it left a mark on me would be an understatement.” He was struck and inspired by how “every single detail” of the hospital “was geared totally for patient comfort,” and by the spirit, energy and positive attitude of the patients and employees at St. Jude’s. “When I walked out of there,” Mr. Murphy said, “I was committed, I was inspired, I was motivated like I never have been before.”
As a firm, Block O’Toole & Murphy is deeply invested in St. Jude’s mission to finally end deadly pediatric diseases. Mr. Murphy lost a cousin at a young age to leukemia, and Mr. O’Toole lost a niece to cancer. Other employees at Block O’Toole & Murphy have also been inspired after hearing from families whose lives were changed after their child was treated at St. Jude’s, such as when the Sorenson family shared their heart-touching story at the 2018 Wine Tasting.
Founded in 1962 by philanthropist Danny Thomas, St. Jude’s mission is to treat, prevent and finally cure serious pediatric diseases such as cancer without ever having to charge the family. Since the organization’s inception, childhood cancer survival rates have surged from 20% to about 80% — and until that number reaches 100%, there is still much more work to be done.
The charitable nature of St. Jude’s mission means that the organization relies on donations to keep its doors open, which the hospital estimates costs more than $2.8 million dollars every single day. Furthermore, the cures that St. Jude discovers are not licensed or patented, but instead given away so that children around the world can benefit from St. Jude’s efforts.
Since 2007, this event has raised over $5 million dollars towards finally ending childhood cancer. 2018 was the most successful year for the Autumn Wine Tasting ever after it raised more than $750,000 and was attended by over 700 people drawn largely from the networks of the Block O’Toole & Murphy committee members who helped run the event.
“The Autumn Wine Tasting is a celebration, it’s a lot of fun, but make no mistake about it, people assemble there with a purpose,” said Mr. Murphy. “Each person is making their own personal contribution to an incredibly important cause.” Murphy added, “Your perspective changes when you consider all of the children who are forced to deal with very serious diseases at very young ages. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to work together to raise money for such a great cause.”
In the 12 years that Block O’Toole & Murphy has sponsored the Autumn Wine Tasting, we have been thrilled to see a steady increase in the funds raised, number of attendees, and prizes donated. We are excited to continue growing the event, raising more money towards ending pediatric diseases, and to making 2019 the most successful year for the St. Jude Autumn Wine Tasting ever.