With the money we raised from Ava’s Kitchen Benefit, we created Breakaway Adventures with The Jessie Rees Foundation. Through Ava’s treatment, we have been fortunate enough to take her on trips near and far in order to give her memories with her family in a stressful time. We believe that when she looks back on these times, we can replace bad memories with fun family memories. We wanted to be able to do this for other families who might not have the resources to do this for their family.
For this first year we focused on families who have a child battling cancer within California. Families get nominated through a nurse or associate working a the hospital they are getting treatment at. From there, we grant them a short trip to wherever they would like to go in CA up to three days.
Some families are not as lucky as us and all they have left after their child has gone to heaven is their memories. Our goal is to give families this gift because we know how invaluable this is during this tough journey.
My name is Ashley Khalipa and I am married to my amazing husband Jason and am the mother to two beautiful children, Ava and Kaden. No one ever believes their child will get cancer. You always tell yourself “it will never happen to me” and you flip the channel when you see commercials for St. Jude. Unless pediatric cancer has touched your family or friends, most people like to stay in this safe bubble. I completely understand this because it used to be me. Unfortunately, pediatric cancer is more common than we would like to believe and it touches every race, income and lifestyle.
Once Ava got diagnosed, my husband and I made it our mission to bring awareness to pediatric cancer and help other families going through this process.
Once Ava got sick, I realized how important nutrition is when battling cancer. I had always cooked healthy meals for my family so this wasn’t a difficult task for me, but there are so many families who have no idea what to cook once they get home from the hospital. I don’t claim to be a nutritionist or professional in the world of clean eating; I’m just a mom who loves to cook meals for her family that are healthy and tasty at the same time. Kids can be picky so I try my best to be creative while also staying as healthy as possible.
Soon after creating Ava’s Kitchen, I realized I wanted to create my own charity event that revolved around food. This is when I teamed up with Michael Mina (Mina Group) and we created the Ava’s Kitchen Benefit. It was a unique event that had four guest chefs showcasing a dish front and center of all the attendees. We wanted to keep it small to create an intimate experience that was unlike any benefit people had ever gone to. With amazing vendors and donations, the event went above and beyond anything we imagined. In just one night we raised over $200,000. This money went into a private fund through The Jessie Rees Foundation in which we could then choose how we wanted to use the money.