Ne-Yo helped his mom raise some money to fight cancer during an elegant benefit for St. Jude’s Hospital.
Celebrity moms Loraine Smith (mother of Grammy award winning artist Ne-Yo), Aliyah “Mama Pain” Najm (mother of rap artist T-Pain), and Jacida Carter (mother of megastar Lil Wayne) hooked up with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and created the Inaugural Soul Celebration to raise money and awareness for cancer research.
The evening included an elegant dinner, silent auction and live performances by Disturbing The Peace artist Rudy Kearns and singer and songwriter extraordinaire Ne-Yo.
“I basically toured St. Jude’s Research Hospital a couple months ago. And what I took from the hospital, which is originally from my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee; I have always wanted to be a part of St. Jude’s," said actress Elise Neal. "And to see the families in person and see the children in person and talk to the moms and dads and see that they were taken care of just as specially as the children were. It really touched my heart.”
Elise hosted the event with CNN news anchor Fredricka Whitfield. Other celebs in the house were NBA great Dikembe Mutombo, producer Roger Bobb, actress Demetria McKinney and Cash Money artist Cymia.
A humble Lorraine explained, “My experience at St. Jude’s was miraculous in that I was very surprised to see the children are not sorrowful and not sad. But they were running the hospital. They were pulling each other around the hospital in little red wagons. And they were indulging in artistic endeavors. One of the great things about St. Jude’s Hospital is no family is turned away because of the inability to pay for services.”
Some kids from St. Jude’s, like sisters Jayla and Felicia Lee, were able to join in on the evening’s festivities. Their mother Elnora later spoke to the crowd about how St. Jude has helped her girls after she took them to the eye doctor and each was discovered to have several brain tumors.
Jayla and Felicia were born with a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis, which can cause tumors to grow on nerves; at five and six years old, the tumors began to aggressively grow. Not too long after that, Elnora was diagnosed with cancer as well. “While they were pronouncing me and giving me a death sentence, St. Jude’s said, ‘We are going to help you so that you can be around to be here for your children,’” Elnora shared.
In addition to the program and dinner, there were two auctions. The Give to Live Auction was conducted before the entertainment and included items like a pledge of $500 for a day of oxygen or $5,000 for two days in ICU. Then there was a silent auction with items like Ne-Yo’s signature hats and autographed journals and T-Pain’s autographed shoes and top hats.
As the night came to a close, S2S ran into Ne-Yo’s mom for a little one-on-one time where the happy grandmother gushed about Ne-Yo’s kids, Madilyn and Mason.
“I am so excited. My granddaughter is turning a year old and the new little grandson is a month old," Lorraine told us. "I’m enjoying how to feed him because things have really changed since Ne-Yo was a baby. I’m like, ‘Do it this way,’ and he’s like, ‘Do it that way.’” She went on to say that both babies remind her of Ne-Yo as a baby because of how much they resemble him.
For more information on St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and how you can help, visit www.StJude.org.