Upcoming wine auction supports saving children’s lives

TOPPENISH, Wash.  — An upcoming event, the Auction of Washington Wines, has a 35-year history in the making that’s raised over $55 million for important Washington causes.

One of the beneficiaries is Seattle Children’s Hospital.

“You see your life trajectory going like everybody else’s life: normal, and then one second – your son might have cancer,” Conan Viernes, father to eight-year-old Tiago said.

In 2016, the Viernes family, from Toppenish, received devastating news.

Their two year old, Tiago, had high risk neuroblastoma.

“Everything just stops and goes in a completely different direction,” Conan said.

Conan and his wife, Geo, uprooted their lives to move to Seattle for Tiago’s treatment. Soon after, they had to enroll their children in Seattle schools; the treatment for the cancer was lengthy and intensive.

“So when it presents, it presents stage four so the cancer is throughout the body, bones, everywhere,” Conan said.

Luckily, Conan was able to transfer his job to Seattle, but most families aren’t afforded that convenience. Conan said most families begin intensive cancer treatment for their children and leave the jobs behind – luckily, Seattle Children’s is able to support them.

WATCH: 100% Chance of Wine, every Wednesday with Jason Valentine

But that support wouldn’t be possible without organizations like Auction of Washington Wines.

“It is a heartfelt type of work to do, I think it’s enriching in that way for everybody who participates,” Executive Director Jamie Peha said.

The Auction of Washington Wines has multiple upcoming events, like the Online Auction, Vinter Dinner, one of which will be at J. Bookwalter and Gala at Chateau St. Michele.

“The mission of the auction is really to uplift the Washington wine industry in an inclusive way from farm workers, to growers, to vintners. The ones that are coming up right now are in the Tri-Cities area and every year we like to focus our may events in wine country — but there’s also an online auction,” Peha said.

That auction benefits the Seattle Children’s Tri-City Clinic, an essential place for families like Tiago’s.

“Which is really important for us families on the east side for routine labs – and I say routine, routine is not routine when you talk pediatric cancer – but for routine lab for those types of labs, that type of care, we don’t have to go all the way and trek to Seattle, we have a local clinic in Tri-Cities which is amazing,” Conan said.

Today, Tiago is a happy, eight year old who loves baseball.

“He’s like any other eight year old, I try to get him to go to work and he throws a fit and all he wants to do is play baseball,” Conan said.

You can watch more on Tiago’s cancer journey here.