Zane and Shawna Oliver lost their firstborn child, Seton Blain Oliver, to microcephaly December 4, 2012. It was a sorrowful time for the couple, to say the least.
But they say the pain has since been eased by the joy of the birth of two healthy children, Harper and Jonas — which was accomplished, in part, with the help of genetic counseling.
As this year’s Ambassador Family for the West Texas March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction 2017, the Olivers are testimony to the commitment March of Dimes has to ending premature births and lasting childhood disabilities, according to March of Senior Dimes Development Manager Carla O’Neal. The Oliver family and Seton’s story will be given a spotlight at the Signature Chefs Auction, scheduled 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday at the Cornerstone Ranch Event Center in Bushland at 1901 Cement Road.
“Sharing our story, although it is not like most, we hope we can help the March of Dimes raise money to support research that could benefit many families, helping them have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies,” the Olivers said in a statement through March of Dimes.
Participating chefs will donate their time and expertise in the kitchen to create a singular culinary event described annually as beyond compare. There will also be the opportunity to win ”great auction packages,” according to O’Neal.
Eleven top chefs are confirmed for this year’s event, and the tasting will include two new additions to the lineup plus favorites from previous events that have come back each year to support the March of Dimes.
Slated “culinary masters” for this year’s event are: Bud Anderson of Ben E. Keith, Ashley Bara Parades of La Fiesta & Caterings by Roy, Rocky Dunham of Nineteen49 Catering/Bivins Pointe, John Kuzma of The Continental at Park Central, Roy Lambden of Trail Boss, Juan Lopez of Pescaraz, Joyce Martin of Lakeland Marketing, Brian Mason of BL Bistro, Rhonda Obenhaus of Joe’s Catering, Marcia Phillips of The Grill at Park Central, and James “JT” Thomas of Macaroni Joe’s.
O’Neal shared examples of some of the exciting auction packages up for grabs at the event including the Super Bowl package, Texas Tech package and a ski package. The Super Bowl package includes a catered meal of prime rib and all the fixings on Super Bowl Sunday for up to 40 people along with a bar fully stocked by M&R Liquor and Budweiser.
The Texas Tech package gives the winner VIP sideline passes, a tour of facilities and a helmet autographed by Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury. The ski package winner can expect to be snow bunnies on the slopes with a family cabin and lift tickets in Angel Fire, N.M.
Last year’s fundraising event raised $103,000 for last year’s campaign, O’Neal said. This year’s goal is to raise $125,000 and attendance is expected to be in the 250 to 260 range.
“We were right at about 250 last year,” she said.
Information provided by the March of Dimes indicates that one in eight babies in Amarillo will be born prematurely. Prematurity is one of the most significant health threats to moms and babies today, and it is the leading cause of deaths among newborns and the leading cause of lasting childhood birth defects.
Top priorities for the March of Dimes in advancing the health of mothers and babies: awareness activities, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit family outreach, professional and community education and advocacy.
According to O’Neal, funds raised locally come back to help babies in need in the Texas Panhandle including, in part, providing resources to a local NICU and also training programs to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center doctors and nurses.
For those still thinking about eating, drinking and being merry while raising funds for the March of Dimes? “We do still have a few tables available,” said O’Neal.