American Cancer Society volunteers donning red scarves recently welcomed 357 exquisitely dressed guests, while ushering them through the JW Marriott to the beautifully transformed “Arabian Nights” Banyan Ballroom for the 2019 Imagination Ball. The magical evening was filled with hope, fun, and more than a few tears. The evening’s festivities included: tables of silent auction items, a photo booth, a diamond dig, speeches, an award ceremony, a live auction, live donations, a survivor video, dinner, and a dance. For many attendees, such as, Marva Sutt, the devastation of cancer made the magical evening bittersweet.
“This year’s Ball is very emotional for us. Our hearts are heavy. Just before the holidays, our daughter was diagnosed with cancer. This disease is so devastating and touches everyone,” expresses Marva Sutt while fighting back her tears.
“Imagine a world without cancer. Imagine a day when a loved one will never hear the words ‘you have cancer.’ Imagine a day when there is a cure,” remarks Debra Shanahan, Event Chair. “Tonight, we are honored to be with friends, family, and cancer survivors who continuously unite together to eventually finish the fight and find a cure for this horrific disease.”
Gary and Anne Landis were honored as the 2019 Grado Award Recipients for giving unselfishly of their time, talent, and treasure to the American Cancer Society. Gary Landis helped launch “Shoot Down Kids Cancer,” a clay pigeon tournament which benefits Pediatric Cancer Research. He and Anne volunteer and serve the American Cancer Society and a variety of charitable committees and boards; all causes close to their hearts, having been personally touched by cancer.
Following the awards and exciting live auction, the evening took a solemn turn, as the Survivor Video played. Silence fell over Banyan Ballroom as everyone watched Lauren Ross tell her Survivor Story. In 2018, Lauren, at age 33, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She shared her message about the importance of early detection, having found a lump and sensitivity in her breast. Hoping it was an early sign of pregnancy, she immediately called mother and her doctor. The happy news she was hoping for dashed as the doctor gave a diagnosis of breast cancer. Lauren’s story touched everyone present.
“We are all here to support Lauren,” smiles a teary Jade Purcell, friend of Lauren Ross, remarking about the large number of young adults present at the Ball.
Tears dried as live donations were heartily pledged. The evening concluded as guests danced to music from the Stacey Allison Band.
Mark your calendars for Relay for Life on March 30, from 2 to 9 PM at Mackle Park. For more information, go to: www.relayforlife.org.