There’s nothing like a Buffalo summer — and one of the season’s highlights is Summer Splash, a waterfront cocktail party that benefits the Courage of Carly Fund. 2023 marked the event’s 10-year anniversary.
As event coordinator Shannon Tedesco plans for the 2024 Summer Splash, she is aiming high with a goal of raising $100,000. It’s a milestone she could have only dreamed of a decade prior.
“We always describe it as a wedding without a bride and groom, because from the second you walk in, it’s a celebration,” said Shannon. “There’s excitement in the air. Everybody is dressed to the theme. You’re usually greeted with a little glass of champagne. It’s very bright and fun and easy. You come in, you eat, you drink, you dance.”
The idea for Summer Splash came about more than a decade ago, when Shannon, along with other volunteers and key stakeholders, sought out ways to reach a new audience.
“We wanted to figure out a way to get younger people involved, the 25 to 35 age range, and make Courage of Carly (then known as Carly’s Club) their charity of choice.”
At the time, Summer Splash served in some ways as an addition to the existing Carly’s Crossing event, but over the years, it has grown into its own standalone fundraiser.
“It’s evolved with us, but it’s stayed so true to itself and its original cause — to bring people in, have a great night on the water and do it for the kids.”
Shannon first got involved with the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation 15 years ago, when she joined the team as an intern.
“That’s when I met Jennifer Hickok, [Director, Corporate Partnerships & Board Relations,] and I moved on from interning, but she didn’t let me move on from Roswell Park,” Shannon laughed. “I stayed in close contact with her, and I had been doing things like helping out with the holiday party and with Courage of Carly. I saw how much of an impact it was having on the kids throughout the community.”
Shannon was hooked and motivated by the mission. She explained, “It became part of my heart, and I couldn’t let it go.” Shannon later became a member of the Roswell Park Alliance Community Board and now serves as the chair of Summer Splash.
Although it’s a one-night event, work for Shannon and her committee is nearly year-round.
“We have a big committee of people who are just as dedicated as I am, so we always have a big celebration after the event. We reflect on what we did, and it’s always like, how can we do more? How can we do better? We start planning almost immediately after the event closes.”
Shannon says what keeps her motivated is knowing they’re working toward finding cures and making lives better for kids affected by cancer and their families.
“Seeing that you helped to make a kid’s day or watching the relief on a mom or dad’s face knowing that they are going to have a little bit of support, that’s all I really need to keep me going.”
Shannon says Summer Splash is always in need of more volunteers. First and foremost, however, they want you to come and experience the event.
If you’re interested in starting your own Courage of Carly event, Shannon offered this advice:
“My advice is to just get started. Even if it’s a couple hundred dollars, it still makes a huge impact.”
Shannon is not only proud of the success and growth of Summer Splash, but she’s also proud of how the dollars they raise are put to work right away to serve people affected by cancer in our community.
“With Courage of Carly, the impact goes far beyond the medicine. The reason that I do this is to make a difference in a kid’s life and to have them experience joys that they maybe aren’t experiencing because of the disease. So, creating memories for them and for their family, that’s the reason that I do this.”