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Michelle Benaim

Featured Article

Blue Hope Bash

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance Supports Patients, Families, Caregivers and Survivors at Annual Fundraising Gala

Article by Lauri Gross

Photography by Jack Hartzman

Originally published in Potomac Lifestyle

Everyone needs allies. So, imagine the impact of an alliance unified across the nation with a common goal. The Colorectal Cancer Alliance is doing more than imagining. The Alliance is making an impact by supporting patients, families, caregivers and survivors; raising awareness of preventative measures; and inspiring efforts to fund critical research. The Blue Hope Bash, the premier fundraiser for the D.C.-based Colorectal Cancer Alliance, is being held Nov. 2. “Blue” because that is the color of colorectal cancer awareness. “Hope” because that is what the CCA offers. “Bash” because this party will be fun.  

In 2010, the Alliance held the first Blue Hope Bash in D.C. In 2018, it expanded to other cities across America, led by allies in their hometowns.

“The one in D.C. is the biggest,” says Angie Lawry, vice president of marketing and communications for the Alliance. “It’s run by Alliance headquarters.”

This year’s Bash celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Alliance and will raise funds to support the mission of the Alliance.

Event co-chairs Curtis and Amanda Polk and Stan and Nina Snow will introduce a dinner performance by the original cast of Broadway’s Jersey Boys, and Craig Melvin of NBC News Today will emcee the evening.

More than 500 people are expected to fill the elegant great hall at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium for this gala.

“This is the first time we are doing an after-party for guests who want to stick around for dancing,” Angie says.

The after-party is called the Bash After Dark.

At the Bubbles and Bling raffle, guests can purchase Champagne for a chance to win a custom-made necklace by Liljenquist & Beckstead and a men's Rolex watch. The winner of a 2020 Porsche Macan S will be also be announced at the Bash, and there will be other silent and live auction items.

However, the true focus of the Bash will be on those with impactful stories to share, and none is more impactful than that of Michelle Benaim.

Michelle celebrated life with laughter and warmth, especially with her three beloved children, Alex, Sam and Sophia. Shortly after her 2015 diagnosis of young-onset colorectal cancer, Michelle searched for ways to help people facing similar circumstances. Her family says this was typical of Michelle, who had volunteered with the Keen Gala, Fashion For Paws, The Bullis 5K and at her children's school as PTA president. Michelle co-chaired the 2017 Blue Hope Bash with her husband, Avi, but passed away weeks before the event. To honor Michelle’s generous spirit, her family established the Michelle Benaim Memorial Fund, which, under Alliance leadership, provides local access to screening and raised more than $335,000 to support caregivers, screening awareness and support, and the national screening awareness campaign.

Avi remains very involved with CCA, as do his kids, who are now in high school and college.

“Their mom was so amazing,” Avi says. “The kids are pretty strong. I am most proud that they made it their mission to honor their mom’s work on this charity.”

Avi’s oldest hopes to bring a chapter of the Alliance to his college, while the younger ones create bags of personal care items and more for cancer patients.

“Michelle taught me what it was to be charitable and lived her life doing that,” Avi says.

Of Amanda and Nina, two of the event co-chairs, Avi says, “They were like sisters to Michelle. I am so proud of them and the way they have stepped up to take on the gala. They are doing it all for Michelle.”

Avi attends the Blue Hope Bash each year with his kids, where people thank them.

“They hug me, or they hug my kids and say, ‘Thank you for what you are doing to fight this disease.’ I almost find it therapeutic. It lets me hold on to my wife in a certain way to be still connected to her. I know this is what she would have done.”

  • Michelle Benaim