In November 2003 the Make-A-Wish Foundation visited Hope Stout a precocious 12 year old who was suffering from a rare bone cancer. They told Hope she could have anything she wanted; to just name it. Hope thought for a few minutes and then answered: “You know, I am lucky…I have been to Disney World, swam with the dolphins in Cancun and go to the beach all the time. You say there are 155 kids on the waiting list? Well, my wish is TO GRANT ALL THEIR WISHES, ALL 155 OF THEM. And to do it just as soon as possible.”
Even though Make-A-Wish was faced with a herculean task–Hope’s wish would cost nearly $750,000—they sprang into action. A local company got the ball rolling with a $25,000 donation; the Charlotte Observer ran a December 19 story on Hope which local WBT radio personality Keith Larson picked up on during his morning radio show.He had Hope on for what is now a legendary interview; one that is replayed every Christmas; the Carolina Panthers went on a roll, winning game after game en route to the NFC Championship and a Super Bowl appearance and a mid January black tie, “Rat Pack” themed event was planned called appropriately, THE CELEBRATION OF HOPE. Appropriate because Hope pretty much planned the event; right down to the last detail.
The 2018 Celebration of Hope
An important part of Hope’s Wish was to help the families and children going through the same difficulties she and her family were experiencing.
To fulfill her wish Hope’s family formed the March Forth With Hope Foundation. March Forth was Hope’s birthday and the foundations mission is to provide financial assistance to families battling cancer or other life-threatening diseases.
This year’s Celebration of Hope Gala at the Balantyne Hotel may have been the best ever! During the donation portion alone over $70,000 was raised by the enthusiastic attendees. The gala was again hosted by former Carolina Panthers All Pro Offensive Lineman Keven Donnalley and the live auction was led by legendary Charlotte Jeweler and Auctioneer Ernest Perry of Perry’s Jewelers.
The night was also special because of the announcement of the movie Hope’s Wish finally being produced right here in Charlotte. It was also the Birthday of co-founder Stuart Stout, which led to a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday.