As last year’s Todd Miles Award recipient, RJ Hawk continues to exceed expectations through his support of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
By Barrett Gay | Photography by Sara Reeves
Taste of the Finest celebrates young professionals, cultivates civic leadership and generates support for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Each year, the Todd Miles Award honors the individual who secures the most funds for the foundation among fellow nominees, in memory of Todd Miles, who at 40 years old lost his battle with CF. RJ Hawk, last year’s recipient of the award, significantly increased expectations for future Taste of the Finest nominees.
“This was one of the first organizations that I had worked to raise money for solely by myself,” RJ says. “I made it my mission to raise the most money of anyone who had ever been nominated. The previous amount raised was $10,676. I raised $40,000.”
When he’s not busy breaking fundraising records, RJ balances several spinning plates: starting his day at 3:30 a.m., he works as an on-air producer at 103.7 The Buzz, is vice president at Wagner Restoration & Home Repair and owner at Hawk Media Solutions, a company that helps small businesses market their social media. “I think the thing I enjoy the most about all of this is that it is diverse,” RJ says. “I am never doing the same thing every day.”
RJ notes that the most rewarding aspect of supporting the CF Foundation is being a part of the tangible progress toward a cure for cystic fibrosis. “When I see kids like Crosby Smith, who is three years old and has to go through treatments and therapies each day, that breaks my heart. Kids like him shouldn’t have to deal with a disease like this one. I’m hopeful – in fact I believe – that there will be a cure for CF one day.”
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that causes lung infections and other respiratory complications due to mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs. Since its founding in 1955, continued research and medical innovations remain a top priority for the foundation. As a result, the average life expectancy of CF patients has extended from elementary-school age to adulthood. According to Bethany Howell with the Arkansas chapter, in the last year alone “two phase-3 clinical trials demonstrated positive results for people with 3 types of mutations of the CF gene, and the FDA expanded the use of Ivacaftor (Kalydeco) to people ages 2 and older who have at least one of the 23 residual function mutations in the CFTR gene.”
At this year’s Taste of the Finest, guests will enjoy live entertainment from Mayday By Midnight, dubbed “the most interesting party band in the world,” as well as delicious food + drinks from local eateries and breweries and a silent auction.
Executive Director Melody Sugg says, “It is exciting to celebrate the finest young professionals and their fundraising success, especially knowing that their efforts help people with CF. We are also excited about the light-up dance floor! It’s going to be a great time for a great cause.”