By Lisa Honig
Amercian Cancer Society
Marco Island Executive Director
On Feb. 15, almost 200 guests attended the American Cancer Society’s Imagination Ball presented by BMO Harris Bank and held at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club and Spa. The theme was “Give Your Heart to Finding a Cure,” and the ballroom was decorated as a Parisian lounge with beautiful floral centerpieces that included candelabras and candles to give the ambiance of a romantic evening out in Paris. The guests were entertained by dancers from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio and the Stacey Allison Band.
Returning for their second year as event chairs, Dick and Debra Shanahan, presented a special award to John and Corrie Grado for their years of service in the fight against cancer. The Grados received three standing ovations as they were honored with an engraved Tiffany vase and a perpetual award in their name to be given in future years to others like them who exemplify the meaning of philanthropy in our community. Emcee Stacey Deffenbaugh, NBC-2 news anchor, presided over the evening, and accompanied by auctioneer, Rick Gallo, got the crowd going by auctioning off a beautiful floral painting done that evening by local artist Malenda Trick. Other live auction items were a chef’s dinner and dinner in the Presidential Suite at the Marriott, a sunset cruise on the Ramblin Rose donated by Rose Marina, a week at a North Carolina home donated by Dave and Jeanne Rice, and a dinner in home from Chef Brian Rowland at Crave Culinaire.
The guest speaker for the evening was Isles of Capri resident, Randy Whitson, an acute lymphoblastic leukemia survivor who shared his story about his treatment and his connection to the American Cancer Society. Accompanied by pictures of his journey, Randy held the crowd’s attention and recognized the support of his wife, Kate, and family for getting him through it; and announced he is now in complete remission. His closing remarks were that he was there to give others hope, and he certainly accomplished that.
By all accounts, it was a very successful evening raising an estimated $130,000 for research that will help the American Cancer Society find treatments and cures for cancer. The Imagination Ball was made possible by a hard-working committee of volunteers who worked tirelessly to make the evening memorable, and by our presenting sponsor BMO Harris Bank and sponsors Physicians Regional, First National Bank of the Gulf Coast, Condee Cooling and Electric and Carrier, and Classic Transportation. Decorations were provided by Carrie Darling Events, accompanied by flowers from Marco Island Florist and chairs from Niche Event Rentals. Red carpet photos were provided by Stan Lindsey Photography, and AV support was provided by AVC Audio Visual Center. Pre-event press coverage from WAVV 101.1 and this paper created excitement and provided information for our guests.
Finally, thank you to our guests, our sponsors, our auction donors and our volunteers for their generosity and support of the fight against cancer. Our survivors and their caregivers are forever grateful for your support.