by lisa pierpont | February 24, 2014 | People
Tara Griffith and Kelley Tuthill raise their glasses to breast cancer recovery
More than most, Kelley Tuthill and Tara Griffith have learned to seize the day. They come from different places: Kelley grew up in Hingham, while Tara was raised in Cape Cod. They work in different industries: Kelley is a reporter for WCVB-TV, and Tara serves as a home manager. But they share common ground: They are both young mothers who were diagnosed with breast cancer. The news initially turned their lives upside down, but through the Ellie Fund, a nonprofit breast cancer resource and fundraising organization, the women found support and friendship. We caught up with the pair at the Rowes Wharf Sea Grille in the Boston Harbor Hotel. They wasted no time diving into fresh scallops, bonding over treatment, and planning for the Ellie Fund’s signature fundraising event—the Red Carpet Gala, hosted by WCVBTV’s anchors during a live telecast of the Academy Awards on March 2—with carpe-diem style.
Kelley, you suggested the Boston Harbor Hotel as a meeting place. What made you choose it?
Kelley Tuthill: The Boston Harbor Hotel feels like home to me. I grew up in Hingham, and this has always been my dad’s favorite hotel. He loves what I love about it here. The staff is so service-oriented. They make everyone who walks through the door feel like a VIP. You have the gorgeous Boston Harbor out back and the bustling city out front—and that arch! Just gorgeous.
How is your lunch, ladies?
Tara Griffith: The Pinot Grigio is a perfect pairing with my niçoise salad, which I cannot get enough of.
KT: I’m a white wine girl, even in the winter. You can tell that the chef loves what he does and is doing what he was put on this earth for!
TG: Cheers. Happy lunch!
[Entrées of pan-roasted diver scallops with jumbo asparagus and saffron essence, and three-cheese cannelloni with roasted tomato, basil sauce, and baby zucchini are served.]
Seared diver scallops at the Rowes Wharf Sea Grille
KT: Wow, what a delicious lunch. Not too heavy at all.
TG: My scallops are off-the-charts tasty, resting on a bed of simple but precisely cooked asparagus.
KT: What a treat to have scallops for lunch today. I love eating seafood while looking out at the harbor. We are so lucky to live in New England.
How did you two cross paths?
KT: Tara and I met because we were both unlucky enough to be diagnosed at a young age with breast cancer. But we consider ourselves lucky to have found the Ellie Fund, an outlet for our desire to turn a terrible diagnosis into something good. Breast cancer is such an awful and challenging experience. But for many of us, the one bright side is meeting other survivors and working together to help the next women who get diagnosed. Tara, you exemplify what makes the Ellie Fund special. So many women like you not only receive assistance, but give back to the organization to make life easier for the next woman.
TG: Well, I was in awe of you! You have really inspired me throughout my breast cancer journey. And it really helped for me to see that I will get back to my old self again.
The restaurant offered views of the water just outside
How did the Ellie Fund help when you were diagnosed?
TG: They helped me when I needed it. I had young kids—Ava was 18 months old, and I was just like, How am I ever going to do this? Honestly, the people at the Ellie Fund were like a mom. They cooked meals. There’s no red tape. If you need something, the turnaround time is two seconds. I love the people. I love the mission.
KT: That’s what the Ellie Fund tries to do—help people keep their lives together. It’s hard when you have little kids and you’re trying to work. You feel like everything is falling apart. Trust me, I needed [the help]. I was bald and really having a tough time with chemo. And you don’t want it to be a negative thing in your family’s life, or something that causes fear or anxiety. You want to say, OK, something bad happened, now what can I do with it?
TG: Yes, make it good. That is all you can do. I now sit on the board of directors, which is the biggest honor I could ever dream of.
The Ellie Fund’s 18th annual Red Carpet Gala is on March 2. It looks to be quite a razzle-dazzle event!
KT: Of course! It’s the highlight of the social season in Boston. Tara, what do you love about it?
TG: It’s the Ellie Fund’s chance to really tell potential donors about our mission and let them know what we are all about. It makes up nearly 40 percent of our yearly income.
KT: Wow, so it’s a big night. Well, everyone from WCVB will be there. We have red carpet arrivals and people getting interviewed. You feel like a star when you get there.
TG: It’s such a great feeling, because you guys are always behind us. This year we have between 10 and 12 chefs. We have a photo booth, a live auction. There’s some fun stuff.
[Dessert arrives in the form of a chocolate lavender pot de crème and a burnt orange crème caramel.]
Chocolate lavender pot de crème
KT: How can you resist this dessert? This is sinfully good.
TG: I love the surprise element of lavender sprinkled on top of the chocolate mousse! Beyond amazing.
OK, the big question: What are you wearing to the gala?
KT: I don’t know.
TG: Come on!
KT: I know! I’m running out of time. A lot of people have their dresses made. We’re lucky in Boston to have a lot of designers, like Denise Hajjar and Sara Campbell, who will make you a one-of-a-kind dress.
TG: People go all out. Some women wear cocktail dresses. I’m obsessed with vintage, so I am wearing a fascinator.
KT: Actually, I know what I’m wearing. A spray tan!
TG: [Laughing] Cheers to you.
KT: Here’s to your good health.
The Ellie Fund’s 18th Annual Red Carpet Gala is March 2 at the Taj Boston, 15 Arlington St., 617-536-5700
photography by bryce vickmark
January 14, 2019