Longtime Jackson restauranteur pitches in to help cure childhood cancer | Features

After being exposed to the painful realities of cancer at a young age, Jackson restaurateur Gavin Fine has linked up with a childhood cancer campaign and is doing his part in the fight against the terrible disease.

Fine recently recruited other well-known chefs to participate in concurrent Jackson Hole fundraisers for Alex’ Lemonade Stand Foundation, an organization that aims to find cures for childhood cancer and provide services to families in the fight.

The ongoing relationship came naturally to Fine, though partly because of his own experience.

“My mother died of cancer when I was young, and I love children,” Fine said.

So when he reviewed the story of 8-year-old Alexandra “Alex” Scott’s ultimately deadly battle with the disease and her parents’ subsequent creation of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, he recalled, “I absolutely loved it.”

With support from Fine and others, two concurrent Jackson fundraisers raised more than $125,000 for the foundation on July 29.

Fine owns several popular Jackson establishments under his Fine Dining Restaurant Group. He was a key cog in helping the nonprofit, led by Alex’s mother, Lea Scott, and hosts Kristin and Mike Kelly for the lucrative fundraiser.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation was established in 2005 after Alexandra Scott died at age 8 after battling childhood cancer just before her first birthday. At the age of 4, Alex set up her first lemonade stand to pay doctors to find a cure for the ailment she and too many other young people suffer from. That first day, she and her brother raised $2,000, all of which was donated to the cause of curing childhood cancer, according to the foundation’s website.

The foundation has since raised more than $200 million to fight childhood cancer, thanks in part to partnerships like the one Fine developed with the foundation.

On July 29, Fine played a key role in organizing a successful fundraising drive for the effort for the seventh year in a row, which included bringing Lea Scott together with a number of donors — including Jackson Hole resident and noted Motley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx — in a Teton Village home of Mike and Kristin Kelly. They had raised more than $125,000 by Monday.

Fine also recruited his friend and James Beard Award-winning chef Alex Seidel, who owns successful restaurants in Denver, to donate his time and resources — as Fine does — to participate again. Seidel has volunteered for the past few years, although the 2020 event was interrupted due to concerns about COVID-19. Just as Fine and Seidel donated their time and food for free, Kristin Kelly also thanked Washington-based Gramercy Cellars for donating thousands of dollars of wine to help support the cause.

“I am so honored to follow so many amazing chefs who have contributed to Alex’s Lemonade Stand,” said Seidel. “Chef Gavin helped me feel a real connection to the organization when I had the chance to meet [Alexandra’s mom] Liz and hear her story first hand. Knowing that Alex’s Lemonade has contributed so many resources to the fight against childhood cancer inspires me to want to help in that fight.”

The Kellys hosted one of two coinciding events in Jackson Hole last week – the event was divided into two smaller groups to address concerns about the coronavirus. They ensured that the fundraiser was a success. The couple offered a donation of up to $50,000 as a gesture of their commitment to the cause. Kristin Kelly said there were a few potential donors who might be able to get even more on top of what’s already been raised.

“Mike and I are grateful to be able to donate $50,000 to such an important cause and to use our dinner fundraising efforts to double the impact of our dollars by providing the contest,” Kelly wrote in a text message.

The cause of finding a cure for cancer also affects Kelly, as it does to Fine.

“My father has had three different struggles with three different cancers,” she said. “And as a parent, I just can’t imagine what it would be like to go through that with one of my kids. So when I was able to connect the dots and host an event to benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand, it was a no-brainer to host it in Jackson Hole, my favorite community in the world.”

Kelly pointed out that another aspect that drew her to the organization is the fact that all of the research it funds is shared by researchers, with the goal of getting faster and better results for children.

“It just builds this incredible team of data and researchers and just increases the strength of the funding,” she said.

“I can’t imagine what it would be like to go through that with one of my children.” — Kristin Kelly

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