Our fearless and faithful leader, Hope Caldwell, tried to warn us. But when we saw the photos - and read the bios - of the two young benefactors of our most recent clubhouse build, our tickers were toast.
Both boys have a smile that will incite a concurrent melt and flutter, and learning of their loves - from baseball to best friends - will spur a soar. But it’s the struggle they share in common that will threaten to nearly break any heart: in the fall of 2017, both were diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). To consider the despair and anxiety over such a diagnosis is just the beginning of that heartache. Learning of the very real, daily battle being fought by Milo Sligh and Gaige Hernandez is to understand how they are being robbed of the carefree childhood each so deserves. Infusions, injections, and biopsies. Scheduled clinic visits, unplanned inpatient stays, and emergency room admissions. School absences, playdates missed, and holidays in the hospital. It is more than any of the youngest among us should be asked to bear.
So we are called to try to restore a little bit of the splendor of childhood by constructing clubhouses for kids like Milo and Gaige. And on February 28, we partnered with Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI) to plan and co-sponsor a truly extraordinary build day for these two “clubhouse kids.” Members, clients, and employees of the global sales organization had traveled to Charleston to experience the Lowcountry luxury of their newest member property, Hotel Bennett. They also came to make some real social impact, and on introduction of their scheduled event, we had 60 eager hearts well before we had 60 sets of hands.
For over three decades, ALHI has been linking meeting and incentive marketplace professionals to a portfolio of more than 250 of the most esteemed hotels, resorts, cruise ships, and travel partners on the planet. With a mission to match top industry talent with distinctive independent properties and emerging luxury brands, it is apparent that ALHI’s strategy is a thoughtful one. So it is no surprise that the organization’s associates and members would bring that same level of conspicuous care to a cause and an event like this.
The group enjoyed and celebrated the splendor of Hotel Bennett - from the luxurious guestrooms to the exceptional cuisine and cocktails - and marveled at the surrounding city. Then, under a perfectly cloud-studded late winter sky, the ALHI team gathered for an afternoon in Marion Square. Lowes provided many of the supplies and gear, and Other Brother Entertainment kept the beats just above the sound of drills and saws. In just two energetic hours, a pair of clubhouses were constructed, as precious as they were sturdy. Gaige and Milo were right there to not only bear witness to the build and accept its gifts, but to experience a day dedicated to putting something back into their childhoods.
To meet these tender warriors was a blessing, and to lovingly build and present to each of them a dream clubhouse - a special space of their own - was an honor for us and for our incredible partners at ALHI.